The Wanderess: New Year Visit in Asakusa

Happy 2016 everyone!

          I am really sorry for being on hiatus for the past weeks, it has been a busy holidays for me and my family, because it was our first! Yes, it was our first Christmas and New Year together. Will be sharing our family stories in the coming weeks. ♥

          For now, let me share you my first wander of the year…


          Spending New Year in Japan can be a little unusual from other countries, since most of them are spending their holidays visiting their first Shinto shrine of the year, which they call hatsumōde (初詣 ). This was my first New Year outside of Philippines and since we live in the Greater Tokyo Area, we chose to revisit Tokyo’s famous entertainment district, Asakusa.

Sensoji

          Most people in Japan are off from work and school starting December 30 until January 3. It is the time of the year when people are cleaning their houses, paying all their debts, buying new charms or omamori, visiting relatives and exchanging gifts.

          Upon getting off the train station via Ginza Line, we were surprised that some roads were closed and there were hundreds or maybe thousands of people on the road. Discipline was observed despite the busy event – policemen and road officers were stationed in every corner.

Asakusa 1
As we walk outside the train station, we were able to take a glimpse of Tokyo’s Skytree Tower and Asahi Beer Tower.
Skytree
Tokyo Skytree at 634 meters or 2,080 feet.

Here’s a link for the complete address using Google Maps.

       Japan can be considered as one of the modernized country of this generation, however despite the dynamic growth of technology, they still preserve remaining pieces of their past. They value their own history that much and making it consistently sure to pass it on to their next generation.

          Take a look at the Kaminarimon Gate or “Thunder Gate” (雷門) strikingly painted in red with giant lantern and two statues of guardian gods – Raijin (left, god of thunder) and Fūjin (right, god of wind).

          * This structure was built more than once due to war and fire, take note that the current one was built in 1960 under Edo Period. (Oh yes, Asian History, love it. ^^, )

Pagoda (11)

This will serve as the first gate to the main temple, Kaminarimon Gate.

          TIP If you are planning to visit the shrine during the holidays, you really have to be patient. I mean it, because you have to walk with hundreds of residents and tourists while following their rules

Pagoda (15)
Giant Red Lantern of Kaminarimon Gate

          Their history, vivid as it may seem, signifies their practices and lifestyle. You will never question its visibility all over Japan. Someday, I am going to wear Japan’s national costume while roaming around the city! Yay! #AddedToMyOwnBucketlist

          After entering the gate, look what surprise we found… 👣

Nakamise
Nakamise Shopping Street

          Before reaching the temple grounds, you will be welcomed by more than 50 Japanese Souvenir shops. This is one of the perfect spot to get your authentic gifts/memorabilia like magnets, chopsticks, green tea, biscuits, Japanese dolls, small figurines and the like. PS. This street was only 250 meters long but it took us 20 minutes to reach Sensoji Temple due to the massive crowd.

Kaminarimon

         The second entrance gate is called Hozōmon or “Treasure-House Gate” (宝蔵門) which will lead you to the main hall of Sensō-ji. It features three large lanterns and the most prominent lantern is a red chōchin that hangs at the center.

Pagoda (10)

         On the left, you will see the five story pagoda or Gojūnotō (五重塔) that contains some ashes of the Buddha. I am totally amazed with the temple’s characteristics and ornament, impressively designed thousand years ago.

As I share more photos, I was reminded that patience is actually a great talent and it will go a loooooong way… 👌👣

Welcome to

Tokyo’s Largest Buddhist Temple

Sensōji

Shrine 3
One of the best things during our visit was the cold winter breeze that touches our face. It might sound worst if this happen during scorching summer. (July – September) 

Shrine 4

          It was not in the photo, but at the side of this hall, you will see stalls selling Japanese omamori’ or amulets, incense and ‘omikuji’ fortunes.

Shrine 5
As I said, discipline was observed most of the time and you won’t see them running or rushing into each other.
Shrine 2
Massive Crowd last January 2, 2016.

          As we enter the Sensōji Temple or also known as Asakusa Kannon (浅草寺), we only spent few minutes to make our wish and prayers, so we can give way to other attendees. Please be reminded that the temple is quite dark and the air is covered with thick incense.

          * I am not sure if they allow it or not, but whenever I visit temples, I don’t take pictures inside, to simply pay respect to their beliefs and sacred places.

Pagoda (8)
Intricate details of the temple are mostly painted in red with gold emblems.
Shrine 7
Good weather doing something great in the city.
Shrine 6
What was your wish?

Since Asakusa has a lot to see, let’s look around…


FOOD         

          If you get tired or you prefer to take a break, Asakusa has a lot of food to offer – from fried snacks like chicken, long potato fries, takoyaki, mochi and noodles. (Price Ranges from ¥200-800)

          However, I found something fancy…

Banana
Banana in Pink, Chocolate and Aqua.

For ¥200, you will enjoy this healthy coated banana with candy sprinkles and it is too cute to eat, right?

Cheers to JP for having cool and cute stuff! 😂


SOUVENIR

I got my ref magnet for ¥380.

19abf8710369a20a525657f607b23ec3e1cd956e4119caa1946d12af16ae21a7

MUST TRY!

          You should also try getting your O-mikuji (おみくじ) or paper fortune available at the sides of the hall.

Pagoda (12)
Focus on the left side of this photo, where everyone was almost patiently falling in line to get their first paper fortune of the year.

How to do it?

  1. Drop ¥100 at the tip box.
  2. Shake a box full of sticks.
  3. The stick you draw shows the number of your omikuji.
  4. Take a paper from the drawer with the corresponding number and see if you are 吉 lucky.

Of course, I tried it too…

dde6b77253c1480252d42c56d777db46a4ae1ed45909c6c6d82b8ad76f5e09fc
Senso-ji’s omikuji offer Japanese and English advice.

          My first omikuji for this year was a bit heartbreaking!!! I received a bad fortune which says the following:

“Thunder hit and sound is breaking the sky, it is really dark and terrible. A man of good sense of humor stay within a house closing the gate and doors. All looks really lonesome. There maybe some mistake and misunderstanding in writing a mail to others. Though you do your best with utmost care, troubles may be always your way.”

* Your request will not be granted. Patient will get well. The lost article is hard to find. The person you wait for will not come. Stop building a new house. Stop starting a trip. Marriage and employment are both bad. *

* WARNING *

Do not let this piece of paper decide for your choices in the future.

My simple wish may not come true but no one can stop me from taking wonderful trips and meeting the person I am waiting for. Honestly, there’s no wedding plans on the table. Haha! ♣

c98f185e6f2c23d866dd04b01bd890a4dff76d9d8de6751cc5aa4ba801fdf1f7

          If you received a positive omikuji, you can keep it. In my case, since it is not a good one, I folded and tied it to the tree where bad lucks were collected


 ♦ PERSONAL NOTE ♦

      We had the whole afternoon walking and checking some shops for authentic Japanese goods and it felt good to know traditional practices of this country. It wasn’t so bad to be accustomed to a new environment. More likely a breath of fresh air coming from the ancient times with modern clothes. Lels.

          So if you’re looking for an authentic Japanese thing to do – do not forget to include Asakusa’s Sensōji Temple in your Tokyo itinerary! 🎌


HOW TO GET THERE?

          Asakusa is served by different railway lines such as Asakusa Subway Line, Ginza Subway Line, Tobu Railways and Tsukuba Express.

         I wouldn’t miss the chance of sharing tips on how to travel Japan cheaply.

         Tourists may come from different cities, so I would recommend you to try Hyperdia, smartphone app that has routes and timetable for railway and aviation in Japan. 👌

          For Tokyo Subway Pass, please click here.

HOURS AND FEES

Main Hall is open from

6:00 am to 5:00 pm (April – September)
6:30 am to 5:00 pm (October – March)

Temple Grounds are always open.

*** Admission to the Temple is amazingly FREE.


See you on my next adventure, またね!!!

xoxo,
831521baadd09be864adc7921b59843b5d0bb840c56320a4b1dca90afa9e9a13

Celebrating 1 Year with Go Pro!

Konnichiwa!

Can you imagine how time flies so fast? It was only last December of 2014 when my generous mother gave me one of the best Christmas present, a Go Pro Her 4 Silver Edition. Perfectly, it suits my personality because I love to travel and photographed the places I’ve been to! 📷

Let’s take a glimpse on where we have been for the past twelve months!

DECEMBER of ’14

We decided to spend our year-end climb at Mount Maculot, weather was not friendly then but we still push through with our exchange gift at the campsite.

083600da536801c883c970c10aeaca8b18a63c37d133fcdbef5b26d8d0dd97ad

We are really a small family, relatives are mostly living abroad, but we always make sure to have a Merry Christmas for His birthday!

6ef970613a92a27bd7015d2d3ecdb77415e13c2a415b1c0199699e2b58066933.jpg

Case Verde served as our last ‘mondate’ for 2015.

f9a0e43df5fd43b17591e459c15e8323e94f04cfc6d2cf1334d603cb61e5a56a.jpg

JANUARY

New Year Salubong with High school, Loves!

6051373d8dd575e709f40cfe8cbc2caf99e48d4e23dfb6adfe34283b7dbc3186

Quick day-hike at Mount Pico w/ my best frenemy, John Placer.

603dbd258d86dea601472ff2e7c5b4defd8b0a4033c8a325dc9cc5f9cc8d4f2f

I also started the year by not missing the chance to see Pope during his Papal Visit 2015. Thanks for making this possible Kuya Lawrence!

20fcdd9d74781daf6556b7b041997548751f37544964e4fb8a9c386b38b2bc8f.jpg

First Anniversary w/ RK at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

198c80c8940766b335a91e354d34039caa9bb6d1197b5fbb792c882edbb15e91

Sun, Beach & Sand

af5246facb92e3aadb9addab6b1f4efc4ddddb795e324f05bf5ac3800c3f1b1b

Chasing Sunsets at Kapurpurawan Rock Formation ☀️

d938dc1c816488748a5597cf63772267130a291fe699d699466452733624b244

FEBRUARY

Follow me to Laoag, Ilocos Norte

e93f248cb9f1326d425e827c7c43a9195259e9e4dafe2d724b2f604d3a327099

Follow me to Vigan, Ilocos Sur

3c25b5a32b95577f5a413c71b7993dc473cd85c333a280075cf8b55689c34b0d

19th Hot Air Balloon in Subic w/ my ‘kinder-elementary-high school classmate’, Gemo Ian

7ea643dac5e392b7e408e42d2a69d1005e1f269c18ecaff5b910ba6e8b0dc097

77e1a7428e500ab17dabbea9740960de0fc7eec9007c7e985d5a9d352f892903

MARCH

I didn’t visit any places this month, we had to prioritize some family needs so I just focused starting on my DIY Room Renovation – I personally painted my walls from pink to white, installed wall shelves (w/ Lolo’s help) and bought a new bed & mattress.

1af406cbecfe3e7d1fc750e93d1d3e8d63ff69a4dce985fb620f5170acdd41aa

(Completed in June)

APRIL

Bataan Getaway w/ P4

24abb74fd84542256c3ed5dd517c518e72a884872e26cd225bafabe74e93383f

1be27ad29fe2902d21cb3c28fcb51e021daa99e02bf5d02aeb56fc12d3aa1414

DCIM103GOPROGOPR4369.

“Siblings that God forgot to give.”

MAY

Mount Batulao w/ RK (Our first hike.)

460bc9d0a9f4007af7a652e115d7c50fc6c2bc62cc558463425680c2c22252b0

Quick Escape to Bag of Beans, Tagaytay

Tagaytay

Bag of Beans

Overnight in Laguna w/ my best friend, Pia

d8e10d5bc97a9b232e097c1546531feb70fc0a976c3a7a04f34c71a8e68f4bdc

Night Market in Divisoria – perfect time to buy school uniform and school supplies for my cousins.

Divi.jpg

JUNE

Unexpected Mysteries at Mount Manalmon w/ Daph

6dd2e8b9537c263a5666fc3c4623230aac6472e2bede5688e8ba6c56b4ec111f.jpg

Overnight at Zulaybar w/ P4, My cousin’s send off party.

037e201a1a55ff1c1190d7505a172e1d3fbb865db001ab8d88b4c5c361bb298a
I’m still working on my night shots, this photos was from one of the videos we took that night. If I can only attach their video so you can hear their screams! Haha!

Davao w/ Jmelou & RK

e87233be2381be14ab311bf3b2444a890ea04ff09ebc0a0be0a23bda6bb38a73
Davao’s Wild Water Rafting
8839e46b0a89d2c6bc071fca31b429459c9cec0f7937bb14319cc9c56b33e956.jpg
Traveling Besties  w/ Marri Jmelou =)
8a3dd8af2f663fcafc835013ba18209210920a0ea36eebce9e05332b80cbc570
Davao’s Pearl Farm Beach Resort
d9cb17bd0e2e863c7d54df463bca6784121ebf8eee458067159c291ec25ac1e3
Snorkeling in Samal Island

Surigao del Sur w/ Jmelou & RK

b3efb658840d960a75c4d8a72b55c9b81654396f1785b5d4a496109364b37342

Tinuy-an Falls, Niagara Falls of the Philippines

IMG_7755

Prayer Mountain in Calinan, Davao City

DCIM104GOPROGOPR5934.

Quick dip at Daranak Falls

9c5350afb4a218f6398a76184d8efea80be6af4570875e4301b2fcdb74ee97bd

Tanay Church

Tanay Church

Mount Maculot “Tamaraws Unite”, My last PH mountain for 2015.

IMG_8071

JULY

On July 1st we landed at Narita Airport, Japan.

Narita.jpg

ab2405a70ef01fe9087718f0a26fd50bb0e5a16f4916bb1645390778a0716d4a.jpg
w/ Mama & my Sister-in-Law

Strollin’ at Akihabara

Akihabara

Tokyo Bay

Tokyo Bay

Odaiba

Odaiba
Sibling & Cousins Love

Odaiba Night

Kamakura City

Kamakura

AUGUST

This was the month I decided to “stay” in JP, for good.

Ōmiya

Omiya
I used to pick up my Mama here, right after her work.

SEPTEMBER

My 24th Birthday at Mount Fuji

FUJI 2015

Post Celebration at Fuji Safari Park

Safari

OCTOBER

Solo Backpacking in Osaka City

Glico
Taking pictures made easy by my beloved travel buddy, Go Pro.

One Day in Kyoto City

2inari6
Fushimi Inari Shrine

NOVEMBER

Solo Backpacking in Osaka City

Selca OC2

Mount Haruna in Gunma

dcad778fb27ffb3eca9f8df1683f6e7a001de10989820e783aced8db393967ad

DECEMBER of ’15

Shinjuku

Shinjuku

Shibuya

cddb1ded29f8fed3b72c4cb6083b0c2b380f78545f521ccaeabb6b46f6c548ee

Roponggi

07b5649a83040a2501c1bcdfb941dcbb600da9561080dab271a174943732264d

Two more weeks before we end the year and I still have new places to go, will surely update this post SOON! =)


I just tried to choose one to two photos per city/gathering just to give you a highlight of where I was this Year of the Sheep! As you notice, I was in the Philippines for the first half of 2015, it will always be my home. On its second half, I decided to be with my family. Everyone close to me knows that I made my own choices between these two countries. I had so much changes and adjustments, but everything is possible with Him.

It was a ‘happy yet nerve-racking adventure’ kind of 2015 for me and my family. We survived family challenges and I think my Lola would be happy seeing us together. I’m still thinking of Lolo back in the Philippines, but he will be less troubled now that his two sons and grandchildren are with him. We are very grateful, millions thanks to the man above. ☝️

Despite of the events in our family, I am still able to go places and enjoy life (Thanks Ma, I love you!). I am still smiling regardless of my personal issues. I think that’s how life is supposed to be, to keep your world rolling even if it’s heavy, even if it’s hard.

2 countries, 25 cities.

Numbers above is just a recall, I am not rushing into booking airfares because I still prefer a trip with plans without going broke (that sounds painful, right?). I believe in right timing, if it feels good on the inside, then you may take an action to pursue it.

Think about the pros and cons. 👌

On the brighter side, I just renewed my passport for the third time, and I am preparing something special and memorable for 2016. I’ll surely make it happen with His provision. 👣🌏✈️

See you on my next adventure!

xoxo,

831521baadd09be864adc7921b59843b5d0bb840c56320a4b1dca90afa9e9a13

How to travel JAPAN on a light budget

Konnichiwa!

This year has been so good since I was able to start my own blog to share my endless stories. Lately, I’ve been receiving tons of inquiry on how to travel around Japan and this December I will share you tips on how to do it! This post might be too long but surely it will be helpful on your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.  🎌✈️

I listed all topics that are frequently asked and I ended up with 15 points for you to know before going to Japan, JaFUN! 😂 I promise to update this post as necessary. 👍

1. Travel off peak and you’ll save a lot. Plan your trip by starting to choose from the four seasons in Japan.

PEAK SEASON

(1) New Year Holidays (end of December to January)

(2) “Golden Week” Holidays (End of April til first week of May & adjacent weekends)

(3) “Bon” Festival Season (weeks centering on August 15)

Winter (December – February)

Prepare to layer clothes during this season because the temperature can drop below zero degrees. It’s time to enjoy winter sports and hit the hot springs. Don’t forget to bring your overcoats, sweater, scarves and gloves.

Spring (March – May)

It also known as the “Sakura/Cherry Blossom Season”. A good sign that spring is just around the corner and most of the places are covered in pink. People enjoyed eating at park and drinking their local beers under the full bloom trees. Bring your lightweight jackets, sweaters, turtle necks.

Summer (June – August)

Summer in Japan is seriously hot and humid wherein temperature can be 40° C. People are visiting the beach and attending festivities from different cities. It is also the perfect season to climb up some mountains including Japan’s tallest, Mount Fuji.

Related Article: My Birthday Climb on Mount Fuji (2015)

Visitors from tropical country can wear their usual clothes such as pants, shorts, sleeveless tops and shirts. Please expect rainy days most specially during the beginning of the season.

By the way, summer in Sapporo and Sendai is around 20° – 23°. 😊

Autumn (September – November)

After the scorching hot season, autumn will embrace you with light breeze and invigorating temperature. Most of the mountains are colored with autumn colors (orange, light yellow, red orange).

Autumn5
Full bloom Autumn in Gunma (November, 2015)

Related Article: Serenity in Mount Haruna (Gunma, 2015)

It’s also the ideal weather to walk at the parks and shrines, visit exhibits and watch sports tournaments. Simply bring your light jackets, sweaters, just like the clothes listed for Spring.

2. Visa

If you are already decided which month to visit Japan, let’s now talk about how to get a visa. Yes, Japan still requires VISA apart from the other 67 countries. 

“Japan has agreements with 67 countries that exempt these citizens from having to apply for a visa to enter Japan. Nationals of all other countries require a visa.” (JNTO)

 67 Countries for Visa Exemptions (as of December, 2014)

Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Canada, USA, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Suriname, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Turkey, Lesotho, Mauritius, Tunisia, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

For more information about exemption of visa, please click here.

For other nationalities not stated above, check these websites of Japanese Embassies, Consulates and Permanent Missions, click here.

Since I am writing this for my Filipino friends, no need to visit the embassy because it is a MUST to apply your tourist visa thru accredited agencies.

For List of Accredited Agencies, click here.

For more important details about visa application, click here.

As of April 2015, here is the updated list of Consular Fees:

Single Entry Visa                  1,200 pesos (may vary in other agency)

– period of stay must not exceed 15 days

Multiple Entry Visa              2,450 pesos

– considered as temporary visitor that can stay in Japan for 15 – 30 days; validity is up to 5 years.

Transit Visa                                300 pesos

– a visa allowing its holder to pass through a country only, not applicable for long stay

For more details on the condition for issuance of these visas, please click here.

For complete list of consular fees, click here.

4867298744b2e37ea825997de2ad0fb76c6ce79941162e421c63a6479f8ec0be
Immigration stamps can be the BEST SOUVENIR of your trip.

3. Entry and Exit

Japan has numerous airports that you can choose from as your entry and/or exit points. In this way you can save time from going back and forth to the same city.

(1) Haneda Airport busiest airport in Japan that handles most domestic flights and less international flights. It is also closer to the city than Narita Airport.

(2) Tokyo’s Narita Airport mostly handles majority of international flights. It is located in Chiba, 60 kilometers outside of Tokyo.

(3) Osaka’s Kansai International Airport is one of Japan’s most important airports. Just like Narita, they have huge hubs that can serve domestic and international flights.

(4) Nagoya’s Central Japan Airport is Japan’s fourth most important airport that handles domestic and international flights form the former Nagoya’s Komaki Airport.

(5) Fukuoka Airport handles domestic flights but they also have few international flights such as Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore.

(6) New Chitose Airport is the main airport of Sapporo and considered as one of the busiest. Mainly domestic flights and few international routes.

(7) Kobe Airport offers domestic flights only. The nearest international airport is Osaka’s Kansai Airport.

(8) Okinawa’s Naha Airport served as an international airport that caters to 11 cities (Hong Kong, Korea, China, Taiwan).

Listed above are the main airports in Japan, so you can plan where to begin and end your trip, or simply visit one city at a time.

For example, you can book a flight to Osaka then exit via Tokyo or vice versa. In that case, you don’t need to go back to Osaka for your return flight. ✈️

I would love to share budget airlines within Japan, however I am still researching about it and how it works for tourists. I’ll update this post as necessary. ✈️

 

Airport Map
Main Hubs in Japan (Photo from JNTO)

4. Airline Ticket

In some cases, this will be the most expensive part of the trip. Personally, I haven’t tried budget airlines going to Japan because of ‘trust issues‘. I know it’s cheaper but I am more comfortable on big planes and usually I have check in baggages. Plus, it is my mother’s sole decision when it comes to this part of traveling.

Since traveling is a booming activity for the present generation, it is very economical to search for the cheapest airfare so you can put most of your money allocation in enjoying the country’s sightseeings.

List of Budget Airlines that has flights to Japan:

Cebu Pacific

Jetstar Japan

Simply wait for promos that is usually held every holidays and/or payday. They sell it for as low as 3,000 pesos ($65 per way).

Best Tip I can suggest is to BOOK EARLY.

Some tourists, book their own tickets as early as 6 months prior their trip to save bucks. And mind you, it is helpful!

Keep in mind…

To apply for the visa a month before the trip because single entry visa is only valid within 3 months from the date of approval.

5. Japan Rail Pass

As I said, traveling around Japan is not expensive as you think due to the release of Japan Rail Pass. 

JR
This is the logo of Japan Railway Group

This is the sign that you can see at the train stations all over Japan. A group of privately owned companies that provide railway service to mass consumers in Japan. I am telling you that they are timely and efficient. If you will avail this pass, you can travel around Japan using shinkansen bullet train, non bullet trains and buses.

“JAPAN RAIL PASS

is a special fare ticket that is available only to travelers/tourist visiting Japan for sightseeing.”

* Please be reminded that Japan Rail Pass cannot be purchased in Japan.

You have to buy it from an authorized sales agent/office before going to Japan.

Eligibility Requirements

(a) A foreign tourist/visitor under the entry status of “Temporary Visitor” as seen on your passport. Upon entry in Japan, presenting your stamp will allow you to use the rail pass.

(b) If you are a Japanese National living outside of Japan who meets the following conditions:

a. who has permanent residence in that country

Person meeting this condition must provide written proof of the following:

・ Right of permanent residence
・ That they are living in a country other than Japan

b. who is married to a non-Japanese residing in a country other than Japan

Persons meeting this condition must provide written proof of the following:

・ That they are married to a foreign national
・ That they are living in a country other than Japan
・ That their spouse (a foreign national) is living outside Japan

If applicant failed to provide these papers, issuance of pass maybe denied.

Two Types of JAPAN RAIL PASS

(a) Green (for superior-class Green cars)

(b) Ordinary

Each of these types is available at a 7-day, 14-day, or 21-day Pass.

JR Pass Fees

(As of September 2015)

Green Pass

            Adult                                Child

7 Days                 ¥38,880 / P15,080 / $320        ¥19,440 / P7,540 / $160

14 Days               ¥62,950 / P24,415 / $517         ¥31,470 / P12,205 / $258

21 Days               ¥81,870 / P31,750 / $670         ¥59,350 / P23,078 / $489

Ordinary Pass

      Adult                                Child

7 Days                 ¥29,110 / P11,320 / $240         ¥14,550 / P5,657 / $120

14 Days               ¥46,390 / P18,038 / $380        ¥23,190 / P9,017 / $190

21 Days               ¥59,350 / P23,070 / $488        ¥29,670 / P11,537 / $244

The actual cost in local currency is calculated based on the Banker’s Selling Rate (BSR), etc.at the time the Exchange Order is issued. Please note that the purchase exchange rate may differ from the exchange rate in effect when you actually visit Japan.

 * Children who are age 6 through 11 as of the date on which the exchange order is issued are eligible for child PASS prices.

* Prices are subject to change. The applicable price is the price valid on the date when an Exchange Order is issued.

Validity Period

The validity period of a Japan Rail Pass is the consecutive 7, 14, or 21 days period, beginning on the date of its first used.

Once a starting date has been assigned to the pass, it cannot be changed.

 For scope, terms and conditions of Japan Rail Pass, please click here.

For steps in buying pass, turning exchange order and making reservation, please click here.

These information are also available at http://www.japanrailpass.net.com, I just saved you from clicking another link. I also converted prices into US Dollars and Philippine Peso. You just have to check the rates again since it varies every day. 😊

6. Transportation around Japan

Aside from traveling around Japan using the JR Pass, you can also take advantage of their major highway buses like Willer Express. Book your tickets early and one thing is for sure, it’s CHEAPER as low as ¥1,700 – ¥2,000.

WILLER
Full bloom Autumn in Gunma (November, 2015)

Related Article: Going Around Japan via Willer Express

For more details about Willer Express, click here.

If you are not availing the Japan Rail Pass:

(a) Look for one day or two day subway passes (check their package offers too)

Related Article: Solo Backpacking in Osaka

Related Article: One Day in Kyoto

* List of Train/Bus Pass *

Tokyo Metro Pass       Click Here

Osaka Subway Pass (Available at the Major Stations in Osaka)

¥800 / weekdays        ¥600 / weekends

Kyoto Subway Pass (Available at the Major Stations in Kyoto)

Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass  ¥500

Kyoto Sightseeing (City buses, Subways and most buses run by the Kyoto Bus company )

One-day pass: ¥1,200 (Children ¥600)
Two-day pass: ¥2,000 (Children ¥1,000)

Kyoto City Subway One-Day Pass  Adult¥600 / Children ¥300

One/Two Day Passes are Highly Recommended ★ if you are only staying in one or two nearby cities.

(b) Get a re-loadable Suica Card

22acc357d147a9c0f6c36f77d454c0c5a6e32e77f0d0d03d4c2e884cb21b4b02

Using the trains in Japan can be a little confusing and I would recommend you to get train station maps at the major train stations so you can figure out how to get around the city stations.

They also have the JR East Info smartphone application in English! (mostly includes Tokyo train timetable)

For more details, please click here.

Download the app here.

You can also use HyperDia App in checking timetable of the railway and the aviation of Japan.

For more details, please click here. (Highly Recommended! )

I did not recommend any use of cab/taxi because it is EXPENSIVE.

7. Accommodation

Aside from the airfare ticket, accommodation in Japan can be a little painful. If you are traveling with family and group of friends, hotels can be the best option without compromising your safety and comfort. However, there are options available wherein you can save money and stay on a limited space.

Cheap Hotels (These sites has budget/package deals for Japan)

Capsule Hotels

When I visited Osaka last October, I tried using airbnb for the first time and it was way cheaper than hotels. I got an entire loft for three days for ¥8000 / P3,120 / $66. I can’t have room service or housekeeper during my stay but I can definitely manage my expenditures during the trip. I can also cook my own food and do my laundry!

You can choose from whole apartment, shared room or private room.

To look for airbnb hosts, click here. (Highly Recommended! )

8. Wi-Fi

Will you still travel without Wi-Fi? Nah, it’s everyone’s way of communicating and sharing photos online is something we look forward to in every trips. It is also necessary when we get lost unintentionally.

Please be reminded that you don’t need to buy a new phone compatible in Japan because free WiFi is just around the corner. Mainly at the train stations.

Tokyo Free WiFi, please click here.

Osaka Free WiFi, please click here.

Kyoto Free WiFi, please click here.

Hokkaido Free WiFi, please click here.

Some cities has data limit but I think it’s better than nothing. 😄📶

9. Itinerary/Activities

Most overwhelming part of the trip is planning your itinerary. There’s so much you wanted to do but you have limited time and money. Let’s prioritize what we really want to experience in Japan without hurting our wallet/savings.

What are the activities can you try in Japan?

Winter

  1. Open air bath (hot spring)
  2. Yakiniku Festival in Hokkaido (February)
  3. Illumination in Tokyo
  4. Sapporo Snow Festival
  5. Winter Sports (skiing, ice skating and sledding)

* List of ski and snowboards resorts in Japan, click here.

Spring

  1. Celebrate tons of festivals (Hina Matsuri), White Day, Saint Patrick’s Day and Children’s Day
  2. Strawberry Season means strawberry picking!
  3. Spring Matsuri / Spring Festival
  4. Watch Kabuki Performance
  5. Visit flower parks to see sakura and ume

* List of Cherry Blossom Spots, click here.

Summer

  1. Attend tons of Matsuri and wear yukata (cotton kimono)
  2. Beer Gardens
  3. Bargain Finds for Winter
  4. Best view at the observatory deck of Tokyo Tower & Sky Tree
  5. Best and only season to climb Mount Fuji

Related Article: My Birthday Climb on Mount Fuji (2015)

Autumn

  1. Witness autumn foliage in Tokyo / Gunma / Kyoto
  2. Harvest and eat chestnuts “kuri”
  3. Go camping
  4. Visit Mount Takao (mountain near Tokyo)
  5. Taste their warm sweet potato!
  6. Visit museums, read at the park (weather is definitely cool)
  7. Shopping (Summer clothes are marked down!)

10. List of Japan’s Theme Parks

Prices of these theme parks might be pricey but it’s all worth it! You can spend the whole day here with your family or friends, and be like a kid again!

TOKYO

(a) Sanrio Puroland (Site Here)

Weekdays   Adult ¥3,300       Child ¥2,500

Holidays     Adult ¥3,800       Child ¥2,700

* Kids under 2 years old are free of entrance.

(b) Tokyo Disney Land (Site Here)

1 Day Passport

Adult ¥6,900 / P2,650 / $57

Child ¥4,500 / P1,745 / $37

Tip: Tickets are cheaper at NIGHT!

(c) Tokyo Disney Sea

Ticket prices are the same for Tokyo Disneyland Park and Tokyo Disney Sea Park. 😄

(d) Fuji-Q (Site Here)

It is actually near Mount Fuji. 🗻

Entrance / Admission Only  Adult ¥1,400 Child ¥800

Entrance & Free Pass Ticket (1Day)

Adult ¥5,200/ P2,040 / $43

Students ¥4,700 / P1,843 / $39

Child ¥3,800 / P1,491 / $32

OSAKA

Universal Studios Japan (Site Here)

1 Day Pass (w/ tax)

Adult (12 and up)      ¥7,200 / P2,796 / $60

Child (4-11)                 ¥4,980 / P1,934 / $41

Seniors (65 and up)  ¥6,470 / P2,513 / $54

They also have cheaper tickets varying from 7, 5 and 3 must see attractions. Tickets for limited number of attractions is called Universal Express Pass.

There are numerous theme parks in Japan and I am still trying to explore some of their attractions. One at a time, maybe. 😊 For now, these are the famous theme parks that people, even Japanese residents, go to every season. 

Warning: Always jam-packed.

11. FREE Things To Do (according to cities that I’ve been to)

Again, traveling around Japan is not as expensive as you think. You can add these activities in your list because these places are definitely for FREE! Plus it will give you the real Japanese vibe. As you can see, you can experience Japan’s culture at no cost. 👌

Balance your itinerary with these free places. 📝

Tokyo

  1. Meiji Shrine
  2. Harajuku Lane (Takeshita Street)
  3. Sensō-ji (famous Buddhist temple)
  4. Shibuya Scramble
  5. Pay a visit to the most loyal dog, Hachiko
    Hachiko
    Met Hachiko in Shibuya [October, 2014]
  6. Imperial Palace in Tokyo
  7. Visit Parks (Yoyogi, Shinjuku)
  8. Odaiba (Largest Gundam, Rainbow Bridge)
  9. Otaku Haven in Akihabara
  10. Attend a Matsuri Festival
  11. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
  12. Tsukiji Fish Market (You have to fall in line as early as 5 AM because they will only allow 120 tourists/day. (PS. It is closed to tourists since December 1, 2015 until January 17, 2016 – BUSIEST Time of the Year.)

Osaka

  1. Namba District (Shopping)
  2. Stroll at Dōtonbori
  3. Take a picture w/ Glico Man
  4. Asahi Beer Factory (free beer you just have to book your tour)
  5. Sumiyoshi Taisha (oldest shrine in Japan)
  6. Tenmangu Shrine
  7. Tenjin Festival (July)
  8. Osaka Castle Park (going inside the castle requires admission fee)

OC1

Kyoto

  1. Explore the elegance of Kyoto Station
  2. Fushimi Inari
  3. Higashiyama District
  4. Yasaka Pagoda
  5. Arashiyama’s Bamboo Forest
  6. Gion District
  7. See a real Geisha
  8. Kyoto Imperial Palace

12. Food and Drinks

It’s not Japan without trying their famous cuisine! To experience the Japanese dining culture, try to eat at their specialized restaurants like Izakaya (pubs) and yatai (food stalls). Most of the restaurants in Japan specialized just one type of food. 🍴

Itadakimasu!

(a) Ramen (varies from different cities) ¥400-800 per bowl

(b) Gyōza (dumplings) ¥300 – ¥500 / 5-6 pieces

Shiinhan

(c) Fresh Sushi ¥120 per plate / 2 pieces

For a unique experience, try Kappa-Sushi.

(1)TMT - Sushi

 (d) Yakiniku (grill it the way you want it) ¥500 – ¥2,500

IMG_6192IMG_6114

(e) Takoyaki ¥300 – ¥700 (6-8 pieces)

b839858c6ff687603ec66285e9502352f2c0aa7bc34dd36055d2a15af4ea911d
Osaka has the yummiest Takoyaki!

(f) Meal Set ¥600 – ¥1000

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Karaage Lunch Set
Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu Dinner Set

(g) Mochi ¥100 – ¥150

f12655a55841acbd5a17b57c20c76480448a338d7ebcba7962747d591b5cebc7

(h) Drinks ¥80 – ¥160

Vending machines are almost available in every corner! It’s a little bit pricey tho, price ranges from ¥110 – ¥160. But if you are eager to save, I suggest you to visit big grocery stores like Yaoko, Homes’, Aeon, Maruetsu and Seiyu. Drinks are sold as low as ¥70 – ¥150 (500ml – 1L).

Vendo
This is the cheapest vending machine I saw in my entire stay in Japan. Drinks for as low as 50 – 100 yen. (Osaka Bay)

Almost every week, we visit the grocery stores to buy our food so definitely I can share you an updated price of products.

Drinks

  • Mineral Water ¥90-180 (500ml, 1L)
  • Coffee (to go / can) ¥130-180 (300ml)
  • Milk ¥150-180 (300ml, 1L)
  • Beer ¥90-200 (300ml, 500ml)
  • Sports Drink ¥100-250 (300ml, 500ml, 1L)
  • Sodas ¥80-160 (300ml, 500ml, 1L)
  • Fruit Juice ¥80-200 (250ml, 500ml, 1L)

Snacks

  • Biscuits ¥80-300
  • Bread ¥70-180
  • Chips ¥70-180
  • Chocolates (bars) ¥60-300
  • Chocolates (packs of 12) ¥150-300

Bento (Meal Set)     ¥200-600

Best Tip Grocery items are mark down at NIGHT! Grab some bread and drinks for your breakfast/snack. 🙂

13. Convenient Stores

If I will define Japan’s convenient store in one word it would be A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It’s like a mini grocery store that has everything you need. Open 24 hours to make people’s lives convenient. They have variety of drinks including beer & wine, bento meals, fresh salad, rice balls, fried snacks, doughnuts, fruits, ice cream, chocolates, cookies, chips, supplies, books, magazines, make up, chargers, prepaid gaming cards, prepaid credit cards, toiletries and some stores has MUJI apparels. They also have ATM, fax machines, photocopying machine and clean restrooms.

What are the convenient stores “konbini” in Japan?

  • 7 Eleven
  • Family Mart
  • Sunkus
  • Lawson
  • Mini Stop
  • New Days

14. Souvenirs

Almost every touristy place has souvenir shops, you just have to check the prices carefully. Save when you can! 👌

Let me give you some suggestions.

(1) Don Quijote houses a lot of products from chocolates, clothing, gadgets, bags, apparels, shoes, appliances, make up, and many more. Prices are always marked down. They also give discounts for tourists by simply presenting your passport and visa. Some stores are also open for 24 hours so you can do something even at night! As of June 2015, they already have 260 shops throughout the country.

Donki

(2) Hyaku En Shoppu / Daiso has everything for only ¥100 plus tax. You can find dining wares, toys, craft items, school supplies, Hello Kitty stuffs and a lot more!  

100 Shop

(3) Tokyo KitKat Chocolatory offers unique Kit Kat flavors that is only available in Japan! Some famous cities has their own specialty flavor too! 

031270cc087d5703f2cb58b5c153bc24f2ba6101c16e037246710f1dcf9d6b25

(4) Starbucks Tumblers & Mugs are available everywhere but if you are looking for the collectible items marked with the name of the city, Starbucks at the airport has it. It is also available in their respective cities.

Kyoto Souvenirs
Kyoto tumbler from Kyoto City plus their specialty flavored Kit Kat!

* Each tumbler costs around ¥1,400 including tax.

(5) Buy & Send Postcards! They sell 10 cards for ¥350-500.

15. Lastly, you should be aware that tipping is not allowed in Japan without compromising the service.


I know it’s quite long and may looks boring with all  the information, but hey this post is for everyone who would love to go to Japan someday. I also included useful links that you can read later on. For you to travel on a light budget, you should learn how to plan and prioritize.

Personally, I’m not recommending a travel full of things to do on a limited time.

WHY???

It’s not fun at all and you will end up exhausted.

It might work for those who only want good pictures, but I will suggest you to go for the GOOD EXPERIENCE. Something that you will treasure in your wonderful journey in seeing the world because one day you will pick up a photograph and remember the story behind it. I wish it’s a remarkable story. Would you like to remember how tired you were on the entire trip? Tired in a sense that you forgot to enjoy while spending your hard earned money?

Think about it. 

There are people who don’t need these and they are the spontaneous travelers. They like to be surprise of the things they will encounter. Such a provoking idea, however there are still people who are quite hesitant to travel around Japan because of the language. I also get worried at times when I travel around the city, but I would like you to know that people who works at the airport, train stations & famous tourist spots know how to speak business English. Just give it a try and they will try to help you the best way they can.

I therefore conclude that with thorough planning and preparation, you can surely save bucks in the Land of the Rising Sun. 👌 💰

Cheers to more adventures! 👣✈️🌏

PS. I don’t advertise any of these. I’m plainly sharing facts with you. 🙂

xoxo,

831521baadd09be864adc7921b59843b5d0bb840c56320a4b1dca90afa9e9a13

The Wanderess: Serenity in Mount Haruna

A week after my trip in the Kansai Prefecture, my aunt called on Tuesday night saying that we’re going out the next day leaving at 5 AM. I did not hesitate to say ‘yes’ because we might go somewhere exciting!

On The Road
Get ready to see more Autumn colors!

On the 11th of November 2015,  we had a three hour drive going to…

dcad778fb27ffb3eca9f8df1683f6e7a001de10989820e783aced8db393967ad

Mount Haruna (榛名山) in Gunma

Mount Haruna (1,449 meters) is one of the “Three Mountains of Jōmō” (old name for Gunma), along with Mount Akagi and Mount Myōgi located in Maebashi City, the capital city of Gunma Prefecture.

The road up to the mountain is similar to the road going up to Baguio, Philippines. It follows the inconsistent folds of the mountain’s terrain with set of intricate turns. Drivers would love the road as they drive swiftly while passengers enjoy the countless numbers of irregular trees in autumn colors. The trip was also refreshing in 14° degrees Celsius.

Haruna20
Photography (all photos marked with KC) by my cousin Karen. 🙂
Gunma
Autumn 2015
Cable Car
Upon reaching the straight road, a ropeway awaits you to reach Mount Haruna’s summit.
Tix
Round trip tickets costs 800 yen.
Road to highest pt
Ropeway of Mount Haruna
Overlooking2
They only have two cable cars (painted in red) that transfer 16-20 passengers every 20 minutes. You don’t have to worry because it is in good condition and very efficient.
Overlooking3
At the summit, you will see a beautiful view of the mountain ranges and the crater lake. 
Haruna16
Japan might be one of the busiest and modernized country but their love for nature will never fade.
Haruna19
Most of the visitors that day were also Japanese from different cities.
Overlooking
I love focusing one subject that makes the background a bit blurry. Photo taken using my three year old iPhone 4S.
Haruna21
For 100 yen you can use this telescope.
Haruna18
You can also buy these wooden tablets at the counter and write your wishes.

After the ropeway ride, there is another 100 meters hike going up…

Road Paved
Unlike the mountains I’ve been before, the trail going to the highest point of Mount Haruna is paved.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank you Ren! 📷

Haruna17.jpg
Another huge white wooden torii upon entering the highest point of the mountain.
Haruna5
Being on top of a mountain won’t hinder you from calling, texting or even surfing the net. 😀
Haruna14
Messy hair, don’t care. Lels.

I wasn’t ready for this trip and my Go Pro buddy says “Memory FULL”. It was the worst notice ever.  Lesson learned. 😂👍

End
F O C U S
Haruna11
After an hour, walking around the mountain, we decided to go down and visit Lake Haruna.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were trying a scene from 500 Days of Summer… But I just can’t. Haha!

Lake Haruna Top View
Lake Haruna as viewed inside the cable car.

 Across the mountain, you can rent a bike and roam around…

Biking

This place simply reminds me of Baguio, you can rent bicycles for as low as ¥600 for 30 minutes or ¥1000 for one hour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you don’t want to exhaust yourself from biking, then you can simply…

Horse Ride
Try the horse carriage rides that can load 6-8 persons.
Lake
You can also try boating and fishing around Lake Haruna.

If you have more time, you can try the famous Ikaho Onsen or hot spring (伊香保温泉) located at the eastern slopes of Mount Haruna at 700 meters elevation.

On the other side of the lake, you can view the symmetrical cone-shaped projection of Mount Haruna, also known as mini Mount Fuji.

Mini Fuji
The mountain’s ropeway is located at the shaved part of the mountain.

Haruna Mini Fuji

This mountain is categorizes dormant stratovolcano which has many peaks along with the crater lake at the top, wherein people enjoy fishing, camping and boating.

Shoe selfie
I had to get off the bike when I saw momiji.

Momiji is the Japanese name for Acer Palmatum, the Japanese maple tree.

Mushroom Tea
After returning two rented bicycles, the store owner prepared hot mushroom tea for all of us, for FREE.
Matcha
Aside from bike rentals, she also sells mouth watering ice cream for 300 yen.

I am telling you that this is not your ordinary matcha ice cream! It’s homemade, creamy and authentic!

163413c6cee3444802b664f5073732b1caa9b4e145a5448ab7a271770cd760ad
The cold never bothered us anyway 🍦

 

Going down the mountain, you will see different souvenir shops like this one. You can buy authentic specialties of Gunma, Japan.They have udon, jams, mochi, biscuits, fruit candies and flavored meat. Aside from edible goods, they also sell keychains, magnets, Japanese dolls, purse and handbags. 👍🎌

HK Gunma Candies
Aside from mochi, I also have Hello Kitty special candies from Gunma!

Lunch was served at one of their famous restaurants, as seen on television…

Isawan
There were only 15 – 16 seats available and most of them were willing to fall in line and try their food.
Isaw
This is the closest “isaw” or chicken intestines, that I can get here in Japan!

Complete meal costs ¥650-700. Serving was too many, but definitely the main course was tasty and a bit spicy. Perfect for the cold breeze on the mountains! 🍴 🌄 🎌


Since they don’t offer desserts…

Apples2
We visited an Apple Farm!
Apple KC3
All red and sweet!!!
Apple KC
In different sizes…
Apple KC1
My uncle was so eager to try different apples from different cities of Japan.
Apple KC2
For 400 yen, you can enter the farm and eat apples as many as you can.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thousands of sweet apples 🍎🍎🍎

Selca KC5

Selca KC9

Selca KC8

I ate four apples in that farm, and I think I won’t eat apples until next year. 🍎

Apples
Take home apples for Momma!

After visiting the farm, we decided to go for a walk at the park…

Happy3
SMILE is the best makeup I can wear, ALL THE TIME.
Autumn11
Autumn in November
Autumn5
My first autumn in Japan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


We really had an awesome and fun filled day in Mount Haruna away from the busy and hustling city of Tokyo. The only noise I can hear was my giggles. 😂 My cousin and I were able to spend time together sharing the same passion for photography. Obviously I love to be the subject of my cousin’s photos. Haha! 🍦 🍴 🌄 🍎 🎌 

Most of the mountains in Japan are too much established, roads are paved and cable cars are made available to transport visitors (most specially the elderly). With these facts, it is easier for the Japanese to visit their own spots. Back then, they also have strong belief in deities so please expect that most of the mountains has shrines and torii.

My first mountain in Japan, which tends to be Japan’s tallest mountain – Mount Fuji, was overwhelming and full of hard work. I never thought that seeing my second mountain would be this fun and easy.

Read my birthday climb in Mount Fuji here. 🌟👌

Selca KC4.jpg

Thank you for reading!

 

Planning my third mountain in JP… 👣🌄

The Wanderess: One Day in Kyoto

Welcome to Kyoto,

Home of Traditional Japan!

During my three days stay in Osaka, I tried exploring one of its neighboring city in one day, which is Kyoto.

* You can read my article about Osaka entitled ‘The Wanderess: Solo Backpacking in Osaka’.

Kyoto (京都市) is located in the Kansai Region which is populated by almost 1.5 million people, making the city as the 7th largest in Japan. If you will also recall Asian history, it was once the capital of the Land of the Rising Sun. This city has a big part in Japan’s history and was spared from raids during the World War II.

Let’s see what I found in their city in one day…

As I mentioned during my earlier post about Osaka, I scheduled my trip to Kyoto during the second day. I woke up early, eating breakfast on the subway! Another first. (I am too shy to eat alone in public.)  If you are coming from Osaka, you can easily ride a train and reach the city in an hour.

1transpo
Always have your railway map handy.

I was coming from Tengachaya Station via Sakaisuji Line Subway, upon reaching Awaji Station, I had to transfer railway line which is Hankyu Kyoto Line. Travel time via subway took me an hour and 30 minutes for ¥680.

Alternatively, if you are coming directly from Osaka Station, simply use the JR Line, look for the green train icon, this is one of the private railway company in Japan. It will only take less than an hour for you to reach Kyoto Station for only ¥560 (one way).

1tren4
Unlimited One Day Pass in Kyoto

Once you reach Kyoto Station, do not forget to purchase your one day pass in the city. For ¥1200, you can travel around the city using subways and city buses. It includes a map and guide so you can plan or choose where to go.

PS. You can also choose bus only pass or subway only pass, definitely for a cheaper price.

1tren3
Fresh Hot Matcha at the observation deck of Kyoto Station.

Before I start my tour, I took a moment to sit down and sip some tea…

One of the major specialties of this city is their green tea or what they call ‘matcha’. It is the first place in Japan that planted tea seeds, making it the origin of traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Its taste is very rich and intense, I was able to easily differentiate it from the other matcha I tasted in Tokyo.

KYOTO STATION

1tren2

One of the major works of Hiroshi Hara is the second’s largest station in Japan (after Nagoya Station) opened in 1997 with 238,000 square meters under 15-story roof. It is Kyoto’s main transportation hub that has a contrasting design to many foreign tourist’s sites in the city. Very futuristic and spacious. You can find shopping malls (Cube Shopping Mall, Isetan, Porta Underground Shopping Mall), hotels, movie theater, bus stations, luggage storage/coin lockers and vast dining options.

If you need assistance, visit their general Tourist Information located at the 2nd floor, they have multilingual officers, brochures in English and computers for tourists usage. I know you’re waiting for this, FREE – WiFi.

If you are sending postcards, Kyoto’s Post Office is outside the train station (Karasuma Gate).

 I must say that you can do a lot of things in this station, they have Observatory Deck and Skyway at 11th floor. I took my time to explore the station and here’s what I found…

1tren7
Long series of escalators & stairs.
1tren6
Mini Park at the Observatory Deck

KYOTO TOWER

1tren5
On the observatory deck, you can see the Kyoto Tower

This tower at 131 meters high is one of the iconic landmark in the city located in front of the station. (Karasuma Gate) The tower stands atop the 9-story building which houses the Kyoto Tower Hotel.

1tren8
Skyway at the 11th Floor.
1tren
Welcome to Kyoto!

Next stop.

FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE

Kyoto is also known as the City of Ten Thousand Shrines, which includes all shrines and torii in Fushimi Inari Shrine. Located just outside JR Inari Station, second station from Kyoto Station for ¥140, one way. (Did I just write ‘station’ three times in one sentence? Lol. 😄)

2inari10
Located outside of JR Inari Station
2inari9
Let’s count all torii in this shrine. Just kidding!!!

Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) is famous for its thousands torii gates and considered as important shrine in Southern Kyoto. Inari is the Shinto God of Rice. Along the shrine, you will see a lot of fox statues, they believed that foxes are the messengers of Inari.

2inari1
At the base of Mount Inari, you will see this giant torii (Romon Gate) leading to the shrine’s entrance.

This torii was donated in 1589 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the famous leader I mentioned from Osaka Castle. 🏯

2inari17
One of the thousand foxes you will see in Mount Inari.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can purchase a small torii for ¥800 and write your personal wishes/prayers and hang it at the base of the shrine. On the other hand, you can also draw on these fox-shaped wooden structures and write your wishes.

2inari5
These torii gates are sponsored by individuals or companies, you will find their names and the date of the donation inscribed at the back of each gate. The costs of these torii gates is 400,000 yen each hoping for good fortune and prosperity.
2inari8
The hike up to the mountain is exhausting but definitely worth it.
2inari13
Tourists are almost everywhere! In a split second it’s clear and then one or more tourists will surprise you. You really need to take some patience if you want a good shot.
2inari18
They are all made of wood and painted in the same colors.
2inari6
Relaxing and breathtaking ambiance at Mount Inari, but you have to be ready since you will do A LOT OF WALKING (ascending & descending) on a paved road.
2inari12
Few meters away from the summit, you will see a lake.

The top of Mount Inari doesn’t show skyscrapers of Kyoto, mostly small establishments, apartments, schools, parks and highways.

On my way down, I took some refreshments and I met an artist…

2inari3
Meet Okumura Chie
2inari16
She personally designed and made these postcards, an authentic souvenir.

Khatie, as promised I bought one for you! 👌

2inari14
While I was walking along the souvenir stalls, I saw this man selling MOCHI. (It was blockbuster! I had to fall in line to get a stick.) Three medium sized Mochi for 400 yen. Sweet, Tasty & Chewy!

It was made of rice flour and I was full the whole afternoon , you won’t see me posting another food on this trip.Yeah, that’s the only food I ate. 😊

2inari4

Personally, I consider this place, Fushimi Inari Shrine, as one of the best and must-see in Kyoto, aside from the fact that it has FREE entrance, you can really appreciate and visualize Japanese culture and traditions.

I stayed here for two hours, enjoying the very colorful shrines and torii gates, climbing up the mountain, checking for souvenirs (magnets in particular) and chitchatting with Japanese wearing kimono. I wanted to stay longer but I still have to check some other places…

Hop on 🚌

1transpo1
Here’s how public Japan city bus looks like.

In Kyoto, transferring from one tourist spot to another is quite confusing and tiring. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR MAP, CHECK THE BUS NUMBER AND ROUTE. From my experience, tourist spots are closer to bus stops so I often use the bus during my trip. But you still need to do A LOT OF WALKING.

Next Stop.

From Kyoto Station, ride the bus number 100, 206 or 208 and get off Hakubutsukan-Sanjusangendo-mae bus stop.

 SANJUSANGENDO

3sang1

Sanjusangendo (三十三間堂) is a famous temple made from 120 meters Japan’s longest wooden structure located in Eastern Kyoto. It is well known for housing a 1001 statues of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. There are thousand life sized armed Kannon guarding the 11 feet tall seated Senju Kannon (at the center) with 11 faces and 1000 arms and has been designated as a National Treasure. 

My trip to this temple was very exciting and unique, strictly no slippers  and no picture taking allowed inside the hall. Be responsible and discipline enough to follow. It was not my plan to go here, but it was great to know, see and read stories of Japanese beliefs (Buddhism).

3sang
The intricate details of the temple has meaning too,  I’ll try to discuss it on a separate post. Soon!

Originally, entrance fee was ¥600, however with the one day pass I got in for ¥500. Not bad. 👌

Next stop.

From Sanjusangendo, ride the bus 100 or 206. Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop. From there, it will be an uphill walk to the temple.

 KIYOMIZUDERA TEMPLE

One of the famous temple in Japan and considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994. It is known for its wooden structure stage, 13 meters above the hillside, which will let you view numerous maple and cherry trees. You can explore and look around the temple for ¥300.

Please be advised that some of the buildings in this area is under renovation. The construction has few but not overwhelming impact on your visit.

3dera3
A niomon (deva gate)

A niōmon is a Japanese name of a Buddhist temple gate guarded by two wooden warriors called Niō (Two Kings).

Here’s a map so you can visualize how big the place is…

Kiyomizu Map
Grab from Kiyomizu-dera Website

 I’m a traveler who’s not only after pictures, I grab the chance of knowing the history and culture of the country I am into. An hour or two is not enough for this place. Prepare a lot energy because, personally for me, Kyoto is synonymous to A LOT OF WALKING.

3dera7
Going to the Main Hall
Main Hall
Main Hall
80ab6a36eeead02edb87c0e75262220b40097204f8d0e0ea68dcfc3d4533d4ab
Three Story Pagoda in detailed structure and painted vibrantly.
3dera8
Perspective. I think I’m loving Photography.
3dera9
Overlooking Kyoto
3dera10
Eastern Kyoto
3dera2
Talked to some strangers and they allow me to take a photo of them! One day, on my 25th Birthday, I promise to wear one of those!

You will see a lot of Japanese men and women wearing their kimonos while roaming around the city! So much effort and love for their tradition!

Next stop.

HIGASHIYAMA DISTRICT

Higashiyama District can be found along the slower slopes of the eastern mountains. You can definitely feel the vibe of traditional old Kyoto. The narrow lanes comprises of small shops selling souvenirs and Japanese specialties for take home. If you get tired from walking along Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka Shrine, you can take some rest at the cafe or restaurants along the other shops. There are numbers of shops selling their creamy Green Tea ice cream, don’t miss the chance to try!

3dera1
Japanese and Tourists everywhere!
3dera5
Free Taste everywhere!
3dera6
Thanks Go Pro, you did a great job during my trip! 🙂
3dera4
If only I can visit all shops, they are way too many!

Next stop.

From Higashiyama District, ride bus number 100 and get off at Ginkakuji.

GINKAKU-JI

(Silver Pavilion)

The Silver Pavilion or what they famously call Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺) is a Zen temple that represents the contemporary culture or what they call Higashiyama culture during the Muromachi Period. They also call it “Temple of Shining Mercy”. It was built as a retirement villa of the 8th Shogun.

5gin4
Another uphill walk to see another overlooking view of Kyoto.
5gin1
Relaxing view of the pond with vibrant green trees.
5gin3
This was me capturing the Ginshadan (sea of silver sand) and Kogetsudai (moon viewing podium representing Mt. Fuji).
5gin5
I can’t believe that trees can change into vibrant colors like these. Autumn Season officially begins!
5gin
It was supposed to be overlooking Kyoto, but this was really a good shot during that afternoon!

Walking all day can be absolutely TIRING, but these was all worth it! Everything about Kyoto is totally amazing, exquisitely preserved and maintained! Can you believe that I was on that ground? It is and will always be a part of every Japanese.

5gin2
Presenting one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Ginkaku-ji Temple or also known as Silver Pavilion.

After full restoration in 2008, the temple is now open to the public in full glory. Please do not expect silver foil in it because the plans were halted during the Onin War (1967-1977).

As much as I would like to continue roaming around the other side of Kyoto, I need to meet my airbnb host, EJ Uy, at Osaka Station by 7pm for a dinner.

Please be advised that most of the temples and shrines in Kyoto accepts the last visitor at 4:30 PM only. You better start early if you want to see more.

From Ginkaku-ji, I ride the bus number 100 to reach Kyoto Station. I was almost lost because I don’t know where the right bus stop was, however some residents of this city really knows how to speak in English.

You just gotta give it a TRY asking them.

5a01fb1442f6042a45b16e90a0b1cc40c055b3ef090b9f73ca769d28bbf9da0f
Kyoto Tower at night!

Time to go back to Osaka, but before anything else…

+ SOUVENIRS +

Kyoto Souvenirs
Kyoto Souvenirs

As a traveler, I always make sure that I have something tangible from the place I’ve been to, something that I can display at home. Aside from the postcards I bought in Inari, I collect Starbucks Tumbler & iconic magnets👌 Each tumbler costs around ¥1, 500 (tax included) w/ free coupon.

I also mentioned in my previous article, Tokyo KitKat Chocolatory in Japan offers different and unique flavors only available in a particular city. Kyoto offers new and distinct flavor called Itohkyuemon Hojicha (Hojicha Roasted – Tea Flavor). Special flavor like this may be a bit pricey, I got this box of 12 for almost ¥800.

Some postcards may cost ¥100-300 per piece due to design, but you can also grab box of 12 or 16 cards for only ¥300-400. While on the other hand, magnets may cost ¥250-500, depending on the size.


It was a fun-filled day in Kyoto! My legs wants to give up, but I have to keep moving. As much as possible I would like to share tips and guide for you, traveling around Kyoto can be quite confusing and definitely tiring. Make sure to have the bus guide/map so you can easily travel from one tourist spot to another.

I am grateful that to see this wonderful city even just for a limited time. I am proud of this country in so many aspects. It is very visible that their countrymen is very disciplined and you can see how they embrace their culture and tradition. Wearing kimono and geta sandal (similar to Philippine’s bakya) while paying respect to their temples and shrines is not easy, but they are completely happy and proud of it. They may not be the friendliest folks but don’t hesitate to approach them, they are kind and will definitely try to help you when necessary.

Not everyone in Japan can speak English, but you can expect their officials at the train stations to be of help because they knew business English. As a visitor, I highly recommend you to know some basic phrases and words so you can easily approach them. They will answer in few basic words so you can understand. 🎌 🎌 🎌

I spent less than ¥10,000 for this trip, I think that is a good start for interested travelers to visit Kyoto. I still have to go back and explore the other side of Kyoto! Maybe in 2016. 👌

Thank you for reading! See you next trip. 👣

Blog Series for October ’15

I am currently doing my November #BlogSeries, however you might want to take a look on how I started it last October. It contains series of articles that discusses my other interests (reading books, doodling, scrapbook making, art journals) and personal opinions. 

ooo15

Here are the links to my October 2015 #BlogSeries. ❤️

You also might want to check how my October 2015 went. Successfully, I was able to visit Osaka & Kyoto in a span of three days on a budget-friendly manner. (Read my Solo Backpacking in Osaka here.) If you are staying in Japan for a couple of months, you can simply travel around the country using Willer Express, it is definitely cheaper, safe and comfortable enough to ride on a long trip.

The Wanderess:

OSkPS. I am still working on my story about Kyoto. (Will update this post as necessary.) Read it here.

Once in a while, I also take time to write about my previous travels and climbs when I was in the Philippines. If you are interested in mountain climbing, you can read my stories about climbing Mount Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas. It is highly recommended for beginners, even my best friend, Jme, was able to conquer the famous monolith.

Please don’t forget to read it and message your comments or suggestions about it. 😊

Have a H A P P Y Monday! ⛅👯

The Wanderess: Solo Backpacking in Osaka

Good Day! Konnichiwa! こんにちは!!!

After conquering Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain here in Japan, which  happens to be a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, I am also given the opportunity and resources to explore the Kansai (関西) Prefecture. I was able to roam around Ōsaka (大阪) and some parts of  Kyōto (京都) on a budget-friendly manner for three days from October 30th until the 1st of November 2015.

PlanningLet me show you how I planned my solo backpacking. You  just have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

TranspoFirst, I started planning the trip by looking for a cheap bus tickets, and fortunately Willer Express has a seat sale going on around Japan. I got my round trip bus ticket for only ¥9700; I chose the VALUE bus, which happened to be a double decker bus that has a comfort room, blanket for each passengers and an electric outlet (plug with two flat parallel prongs). Travel time to reach Ōsaka from Shinjuku (新宿) took 7 hours, including two bus stops.

No worries, Willer Express offers different types of bus according to your preferences.

Check it here.

WILLER Express
WILLER Express

If you want to reach Ōsaka in the fastest and expensive way; and you are coming from another country, you can book a direct flight to Ōsaka and arrived at Kansai International Airport. If you are in Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, allow 1 hour and 15 minutes travel time.

Alternatively, you can also try Shinkansen or New Trunk Line, known as the “bullet train”, for ¥14,000 – 15, 000, one way only. For tourists, I highly recommend you to purchase Japan Rail Pass before entering Japan. It is the cheapest way to travel around this country.

Since I am a resident of this country, Japan Bus Pass or Japan Rail Pass is not recommended for us. It is only allowed for tourists and sold outside of Japan.

Sleep

Second, I looked for a place that I could stay in for two nights, dated October 30th and 31st of 2015. I didn’t try looking for hotels because the main goal of this trip is to have fun while not spending too much. My online friend from Paris, Diego of Cafe con Leche,  kept on telling their viewers that Airbnb is such a good choice of stay without hurting your wallet. So I did.

You can search from entire home, to shared or private rooms. The said site was easy to navigate and you will be able to see which ones has good reviews from the new ones, while considering your allocated money for accommodation. These hosts are verified using valid ID’s so you need not to worry about your safety.

airbnb

After a few searches, I found a cozy flat near Namba (most famous entertainment district) that costs ¥8000 for two nights. Not bad, since I almost owned the loft during my stay.

WTD
Third, I planned my itineraries in Ōsaka and Kyōto. This was the most overwhelming part since I wanted to visit a lot of places but I have to consider my allowance and time. I wrote on my notepad all addresses and estimated entrance fee in each place so I can have an idea of how much to spend.
Plan
My actual notebook & pen during my planning phase, with color coded post-its.
These three were the main preparations before my trip – buy ticket, reserve accommodation and plan itineraries. It’s just me and my backpack this time, in the city where English is not the primary language.
 As every trip of mine goes, Let's go

To begin my story in this article, please be reminded that I will focus on how I explore Ōsaka. I will post another article about my one day trip in Kyōto. ♥ 
Day 1
Bus
We left Shinjuku Willer Bus Terminal around 12:15 am.

This trip was really memorable because I had a lot of ‘first’, including my first ride on a double decker bus and I was seated at the second floor. I felt dizzy at first but it made me sleep soundly, no announcements were made and lights were turned off. No one tapped me to ask where my ticket was or where am I going, if you know what I mean. While sleeping, I took advantage of the electric outlets and charged my phone and pocket WiFi.

Umeda
Arrived in Umeda at exactly 7:35 am.

Upon reaching Umeda Sky Building, I immediately head to Ōsaka Station, by  simply following those people who were obviously going to work. But if you have wireless connection, use your maps and and you will be guided on your 10-15 minutes walk.

SPACE1For ¥800, you can also visit the observatory floating garden of Umeda Sky Building. The majority of this building are offices, but you will find restaurants at the basement. SPACE1
Underpass going to Ōsaka Station
Welcome to Ōsaka Station!
Station2
Isn’t it amazingly huge?

You can see thousands of people here everyday, aside from transportation, you can also enjoy shopping, dining and recreation activities. Grand Front Ōsaka is just across the station and Yodobashi (Japan’s biggest store for electronics and appliances) is only 5 minutes walk from the station. SPACE1

PS, Ōsaka Station is one of the most attractive railway stations of Japan.

Barista for 10302015
But first, M A T C H A.

Ohayo Gozaimasu! Meet my barista on a Friday morning and YES, I challenged myself to talk to strangers, and it wasn’t so bad after all. You should do it, you never know because you might gain friends in the most unexpected place. 🙂

First things first, before I sat down, I head over to the Information Center (they know business English) and inquired about train or bus pass. In Tokyo, I always ride the private railway which is Japan Railways Group or JR. However this time, I chose to explore the city via subway because it’s cheaper.

It was also my chance to grab maps and brochures. ✓✓✓

Microsoft Word - Document1

This is what you see if you want to use the private railway.

SPACE1

Subway

While this is the sign you see for Subway, color may vary depending on the subway line.

SPACE1

One of the best part is…

Wifi

Kindly check details here. ☺️📱

After breakfast, I searched for my airbnb accommodation located near Tengachaya Station via Sakaisuji Line (Subway), just three stations away from Namba district.

Subway2
My first ride on a subway, and I must say that it can also provide efficient service and clean environment.
Subway3
Be ready for the traditional Japanese-style “washiki” toilet or known as squat toilet.

You can still see and experience this type of toilet around Japan, so you better flex your legs.

Finally, I after 10 minutes walk from the station, I found my home for three days.

Loft1
The cozy flat near Namba.
Loft2
My loft for two nights and three days.

Aside from having a cozy loft, I can also cook my meal, do laundry if needed, it also has unlimited and strong wireless connection. I am very satisfied with my chosen place and I must say that ¥8000 was worth it. What makes it special, is that my host is a Filipino, he’s an English teacher in the area. He’s nice and very accommodating, he had work schedules so I ended up owning the loft.

I took some rest and started exploring the city by 12 noon.

Day PassAs I said earlier, I took advantage of Ōsaka’s Amazing Day Pass. Since I am all by myself, I didn’t include Universal Studios Japan on my list, instead I chose Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. Originally, entrance fee for adults costs ¥2300, however I bought the Kaiyukan Pass  for ¥2500, which includes my entrance fee to the aquarium, one day pass to all subways, new trams and city buses around Ōsaka.

By the way, one day pass in Ōsaka costs ¥800 on a weekday and ¥600 during weekends. Since it was Friday, it implies that I was able to save ¥600 and many more because whenever I showed it to some tourist spots, I always get a discount. 👌

Before starting to explore the city, do not forget to drop by the Information Center to buy your one day or two day pass. They have different packages depending on the places you want to visit. Please be guided that they have lower price for kids, students and senior citizen. It’s the best way to save and enjoy without Japan Bus 0r Rail Pass.

I highly recommend you to get it at Ōsaka Station because not all train station sells it. Offers are valid ’til March 2016. Will update this post as necessary. 🙂

Harbor Village
I get off at Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line to see the Kaiyukan.
Ōsaka Aquarium Kaiyukan near Osaka Bay

It is one of the best and largest public aquarium in the world, with more than 20 tanks in different exhibits, in almost 11,000 tons of water. As I explore the place, it says that habitats here are from the Ring of Fire of the Pacific Ocean. 

Kaiyukan
That’s me enjoying the place like a kid. ♥️
Here's the huge whale shark and other marine life swimming in the largest tank of the aquarium.
Here’s the huge whale shark and other marine life swimming in the largest tank of the aquarium.
Kaiyukan3
In this picture you’ll see different marine life – penguins, giant spider crab, stingrays, shark, jellyfish and a lot more.

I also had videos of dolphins, sea lions, loggerhead turtles and penguins. If I am not mistaken, 6th floor has interactive exhibits, where you can meet Ringed seals, hear the Rockhopper penguins and touch and feel the texture of sharks and rays. I am very sure that your kids or people who love marine life will have fun in here. I’ll make sure to post the video once done. 🙂

Across the aquarium, you can visit Tempozan Marketplace, a good place to eat and buy “pasalubong” or souvenirs.

I was thinking of conquering my fear of heights via Ferris wheel, all by myself. So I did, entrance fee originally costs ¥800, but since I have my one day pass, I got it for ¥700. 👌

Tempo Me
Tempozan Ferris Wheel at 369 feet, my legs were actually shaking for the last 15 minutes of my life, but the view was totally breathtaking.
At the top of Tempozan
View from the top, as you can see some of the trees are changing color already, just in time for autumn.
Cream Puff
Traveling alone isn’t bad after all, I am currently enjoying every bits of this trip.

It was 15 ° that day so instead of rewarding myself with an ice cream, I chose this Peko Cream Puff for only ¥105. 

I go back inside the marketplace and looked for some magnets, however I found another animal park or what they called “anipa”. Entrance fee was ¥600 but I got it in around 40% off using my amazing one day pass.

Anipa
Tempozan Anipa

After which, I headed to Namba District to have a little bit of shopping, sight seeing and food trip for dinner. Be cautious, you might get robbed in this city because of SHOPPING! 😄

Using the subway for transportation was made easy by my railway map labeled in English, I got it from the train station. Go get yours!

Here's a copy of the subway map!
Here’s a copy of the subway map!

Earlier I mentioned that I listed all places I wanted to see and include the train station where I should get off – I think it’s helpful and time efficient.

Welcome to Namba District in Minami (南, “South”)

Your one stop shop for shopping, entertainment and gastronomic adventures.

Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
While walking, I grabbed one MATCHA Cream Puff to keep me company and my tummy happy.
While walking, I grabbed one MATCHA Cream Puff for ¥200, to keep me company and my tummy happy.
The famous Dōtonbori
The famous Dōtonbori
Jap Street
Feel the vibes of Japanese streets, it was like I am a character in a manga series. 😄
Hello there GLICO Man!
Hello there GLICO Man!
Taking pictures made easy by my beloved travel buddy, Go Pro.
Taking pictures made easy by my beloved travel buddy, Go Pro.
Namba
Glico Man in Paris, if you can see the Eiffel Tower on his back. 🗼
Tako
Never missed the opportunity to try Takoyaki.

You will easily noticed that big octopus on the wall, usually the lines here at Dōtonbori Konamon Museum is long, but it was getting late when I took this shot.

Takoyaki
8 medium sized Takoyaki balls for ¥650

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with flour and filled with mayonnaise, ginger, onion, diced octopus and tempura scraps. It’s very hot when served so be careful, I swallowed one of it and I ended up crying! Lol. 😄

Even vending machines have sale. This by far is the cheapest 'jidohanbaiki' I saw.
Even vending machines have sale. This by far is the cheapest ‘jidohanbaiki’ I saw.

In Tokyo, Coca Cola costs ¥160 per 500 ml and while walking around Osaka it is sold for only ¥100. If you got thirsty while roaming around Japan, you can see a lot of vending machines for a quick refreshments.

I went home around 9 PM and took a warm bath for a good sleep on my Japanese futon. And that summarizes my Day 1 in Ōsaka. I will try to make a more detailed story of each place soon! ♥️


Day 2

I spent my Day 2 in Kyōto, Read it here! 🎌

Related Articles

Going Around Japan? Willer Express it is.

The Wanderess: One Day in Kyoto

After roaming in the former capital of Japan, I spent dinner near Osaka Station, with my airbnb host and his friend.

Ej Taka
Meet my airbnb host, EJ and his friend Takahiro.

We had few talks about the good places in the Philippines, hiking facts and how my day went in Kyoto. It was a great feeling that you can meet and talk to fellow Filipinos in another country. Takahiro was able to get along because he knew how to speak in English, by simply watching YouTube videos. 👌

Ramen
Authentic Tonkotsu Ramen in Osaka for ¥700

One of the best Ramen I tasted here in Japan 🎌 is their Tonkotsu Ramen, very creamy and nearly white in color. Its broth came from pork marrow bones that have been simmered. (Marc of @norecipes)

On my way home,  I met my friend from college in FEU, Kuya Anthony. We took some time to sit down and talk about anything and everything right after graduation. It was a busy night in Namba since everyone was enjoying Halloween Party wearing their costumes. Walking in this particular street that night was a real struggle for the two of us!

with Anthony
Another shot with Glico Man!
Parfait
Kyoto Delight from St. Marc Café for ¥590

I treat him with coffee since he already had dinner and I tried Kyoto Delight, which has corn flakes topped with green tea and vanilla ice cream, red beans and two kinds of mochi (like bilo-bilo in Philippines).

It was really a long day in these two cities, so I decided to take 8 hours of refreshing sleep. 🌟


Day 3Ohayo! It was a good day to explore the city again; weather was bright and the air was very cool. I packed all my things, making sure not to leave anything including my inner wears! 😊

Park
Outside the loft, you can see a park wherein trees are starting to change its colors for autumn.

I bought my one day pass for ¥600 since it was a weekend.

Ticket
Buy your one day pass on machines like these, it might look rusty but it’s perfectly working. Choose ‘English’ before inserting your money.
🍂Autumn🍂
🍂Autumn🍂
Tsuten
Tsūtenkaku at 103 meters high, a well known landmark in Osaka

I get off at Ebisucho Station on the Sakaisuji Subway Line (Exit #3),  just two stations away from the loft I stayed in.

In order for you to save time and avoid long walks, make sure to exit at the right path. After you get off the train, look at the yellow signage to check where to exit and follow the number indicated.

Originally entrance fee was ¥700, but since I am a pass holder, I got it for ¥600. More discounts, more fun! 😎

Upon falling in line, I was welcomed by these machines that dispensed capsule toys. Price ranging from ¥100-400, some of it are cute souvenirs that depicts Japan’s culture.

Gashapon
gashapon (ガシャポン) or gachapon (ガチャポン)

Tsuten3

This tower is actually the second one to occupy the space because the first one built in 1912 suffered a lot of damages in fire back in 1943. After the war, they reopened this one in 1956 and continuously advertises Hitachi. In 1999, they celebrated the completion of Billiken, the God of Happiness, enshrined at the 5th floor of the tower.

One of the amazing facts I learned is that it has 6 LED patterns around the year! They use it to depict the season better.

  • January – February has white lights to depict snow.
  • March – April has pink lights to depict cherry blossoms.
  • May – June has green lights to depict new leaves.
  • July – August has blue lights to depict the sky/sea of summer.
  • September – November has gold lights to depict ears of rice.
  • December has blue green lights to depict Fir tree.

4th and 5th floors are the tower’s observation platforms.

View111
Enjoying the overlooking view of Osaka!
Tsuten1
Despite being a busy city, you can still see trees around the area.
View222
Did you know that Osaka City is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan? 🎌

3rd floor have diorama displays of the Luna Park, 100 years ago. You can also find their Cafe de Luna Park that offers different parfaits and for souvenirs they have Glico-ya,  buy your favorite Pocky here. 🎌

Tsuten4
100 years ago. 🗼

museum

On the 2nd floor, you can see Kinnikuman Museum and more shops for omiyage or take home souvenirs. After checking the museum, I finally saw a good gashapon (ガシャポン) or gachapon (ガチャポン) that offers unique Osaka souvenirs, I got it for ¥200.

Tako1 Tako2 Tako3That’s my Takoyaki! 🎌 Photo credits to my cousin, Karen.

Please be reminded that entrance and exit of this tower is at the basement.

After exploring this tower, I headed to Shitennō-ji Temple at Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line (Exit #4). Entrance fee was ¥300.

Entrance
Stone torii entrance just a few minutes walk from the station.
Tenoji
Great West Gate (Gokuraku-mon)

On Sundays, Japanese entrepreneurs build their tent and sell food, accessories, crafts and fresh delicacies. 🎌

Tennoji2
Kondō, main Golden Pavilion.

As I read on the brochure, this is one of the oldest temples in Japan and the first temple to be built by the state. (Buddhism)

Tenoji3
Courtyard on the sides and Kondō at the middle beside the pagoda.
Tennoji
Courtyard
Tenoji1
Here’s the five-story pagoda, currently under construction and will be finish and open on July 2016.

Visiting temples, shrines and towers gave me so much amusement. It was like traveling back in time and seeing the vivid history of this country. What happened in the past, was right in front of me.🎌

Lastly, I went to the famous Ōsaka Castle 🏯. Along the Tanimachi Subway Line and Chuo Subway Line, I get off at Tanimachi 4-chrome Station.

OCC
One of the biggest parks I’ve been to, I swear it is very clean and beautiful.
OCC2
Osaka Castle, 大坂城 or 大阪城, Ōsaka-jō, played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century in Azuchi-Momoyama period.
OC8
Built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Originally, entrance fee to the castle turned museum is ¥600, however I got ¥100 off because of my one day pass ticket. This park is totally huge and you need to stretch those legs. 🙂

inside OCC
I will post another detailed article regarding the facts I learned inside and history pieces of this structure.

The castle’s museum features different artifacts from which you can learn more about history and its construction. It has large variety of historical materials that they were able to preserve. Take a glance of history on the 2nd floor, and kindly be reminded that 3rd and 4th floor does not allow photography. 5th floor has miniatures that depicts “Summer Wars in Osaka”. While on the 7th floor, it has dioramas of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s life. Lastly, on the 8th floor, another observation deck of Osaka.

Do not forget to buy souvenirs located at the 1st floor.

PS, restroom is only available at the 2nd floor.

selca OC
After exploring the museum, I deserve to take a selfie! ♥️
OC7
Additional to my magnet collection! 🏯

OC5 OC6 OC3 OC4

I just can’t get enough of you, Osaka Castle. 🏯♥️

OCC night
The height of this castle is approximately 58 meters.
Selca OC2
Follow me to Osaka ♥️
Kain
Across the castle, you will see food stalls selling sweet potatoes, ice cream, drinks and other snacks. You can also buy souvenirs here for your loved ones, colleagues and friends.
Osaka Castle is truly a Majestic Urban Oasis.
Osaka Castle is truly a Majestic Urban Oasis.

OC2 OC1

The exquisitely done, vibrant castle at night.

Let me show you some souvenirs I got from Osaka. 🏯♥️

Omiyage

  1. Post its from Kaiyukan around ¥500
  2. Collection seals from Tempozan Marketplace for ¥30 each
  3. Matcha biscuits around ¥230 and Matcha candies for ¥60, all from Dotonbori
  4. 16 Postcards from Osaka Castle for only ¥350
I also bought delicacies for my relatives. These cute and yummy snacks only costs me
I also bought delicacies for my relatives. These cute and yummy snacks only costs me ¥1050, available at Tsūtenkaku Tower, Osaka Castle and Osaka Station.

OS night

My legs totally hurt that night and my tummy was growling, so before I head to Umeda Sky Building for my ride to Tokyo, I looked for something to eat…

I ended up at the basement (B2F) of Lucua Umeda in Osaka Station and I found Hakata Shinpu Ramen, it was full house compared to other food chains. I had to fall in line to get a seat. As I read the menu, it was a family business ran since 1968 and that explains why Japanese loved it.

ShiinhanI am so hungry so I decided to grab extra five pieces of gyōza for ¥300, these dumplings are filled with ground meat and vegetables, wrapped in a thin dough. Dip it in vinegar and soy sauce. 👌 For my main dish, I chose their famous Authentic Hakata Pork Bone Broth in White with egg for ¥850. It was prepared in front and me, and I must commend its taste and texture. Price was totally worth it in every sip and slurp. 

After eating, I took some minutes to rest. I can’t stay any longer since I can see other customers falling in line just in time for dinner.

Uwian na
It’s time to go home…

Figuring out my expenses…

Exp


I am glad to share this trip with everyone using my photos and stories, from preparation phase until the actual days of my trip. I hope you are enlightened and determined on how to explore Osaka! You really have to prepare your legs for A LOT OF WALKING! 👣 👣 👣 You need not to worry how to fill your tummies because I guarantee you that there are a lot of food stalls in the area, or you can even drop by at their convenient stores which has a lot to offer as well.

Last September I posted about Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory and may I remind you that Osaka offers new flavors of Kit Kat, uniquely available in their city. Grab ones if you must!

As I explore the city, people I met and talked to were very amazed how Go Pro works, they saw that it is small yet captures good photos. I didn’t mind holding it since it’s very handy and convenient to use. This camera helped me to build rapport with other residents and tourists. Although, I am planning to get another camera like Leica 📷, one of the best and I have to work hard for it. 👌

I guess it’s quite cheap to travel and roam around Osaka than in Tokyo. I had a lot of fun figuring out what to do, where to go. I realized and did a lot of new things I never thought I could. Surely, it helps me discover myself even more and I am loving every minute of it.

Being an adult can be overrated at times, but it can also be FUN like this. You just have to broaden your options and have the will to do it. But keep in mind that in every adventure, prioritize your safety.


As always, Thank you for reading! 🏯♥️

10 Things I love about J.A.P.A.N

Aside from the fact that I am half Japanese, of course, I Love JAPAN!

I started visiting Japan when I was 12 years old, my parents processed our papers as early as they can after they reunited in 2002. Basically, I am a resident in both countries.

Living in another country has distinct advantages and disadvantages. As for me, I was raised in a tropical country, the Philippines, and I am quite not comfortable with freezing temperature. Honestly, this is my first autumn and winter experience in Japan. A big luck for me.

For now, let’s talk about the reasons why I love Japan.

1. Availability of Vending Machines.

Yes, you can see vending machines everywhere and this is not your ordinary ‘jidō-hanbaiki’.

e322f1051e0c07642e4c6ea509d4ce04388c0f0a4e63e4045716e30f9dac562a

What can you get in a Japanese vending machine or ‘jidō-hanbaiki’? Basically, it offers hot and cold drinks, and surprisingly some of these machines also sell ice creams, toys and even hot meals like hot dog, French fries, Takoyaki (grilled octopus) and Onigiri (rice ball). No worries, these machines are managed daily.

Convenience at its finest.

2. It’s not Japan without Hello Kitty!

She is a fictional character born on November 1, in the suburbs of London, England. She was produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, created by Yuko Shimizu.

IMG_5693

Hello Kitty stuff toy in Tokyo Solamachi of Tokyo Sky Tree.

Hello Kitty is almost everywhere in Japan. From clothing, toys, bags, shoes, key chains, stuff toy, kitchenware, food and the lists goes on.

IMG_2107 1

To eat or not to eat?

They also have Sanrio Puroland, a theme park that features Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars and My Melody. It is located in 1-31, Ochiai, Tama-shi, Tokyo for only  ¥3,000.

Shall I visit you soon?

3. Craft Haven!

I’ve been making art journals and doodling for a month now, and I cannot deny the fact that ZIG and Kuretake products are easy to find and cheaper.

Read my article about Craft Haven in Tokyu Hands.

https://lifeandmisadventuresofaki.wordpress.com/blog-series/crafty-wednesday/craft-haven-in-tokyu-hands/

ddf898460d385bd097c3367feb4fac3f46dbedc8a3d0205b112301e418b7f2ba ba05fd35419bc3b3855001631d37c9f1551e54f397844d98ab497faa62643ede 1a7483d9b80654cb74ed51791a7cf865b1c8a71eaec1404c261ffc213316576e

28ac2c273f2f5e55f579e39f4c985391f55aadb4d099b835d61f2a4fd0c67134

4. Electronic Japanese Toilet

What can I say? It’s amazingly awesome! In one press or merely the sensor can flush the toilet. If you need some rinsing after urinating, no need for physical bidet, just simply press the button.

IMG_2232

You can also increase/decrease its water pressure and sound volume.

IMG_2410

Most of the time it is located just beside the ‘throne’, however I found some establishments that simply install it on the wall.

Aside from these buttons, they are also generous with tissue paper and you can immediately dispose it off the ‘throne’. No worries, it won’t cause any clogs in the sewage system.

5. Accessible and Efficient Transportation

Japan’s Rail System is truly one of the best, you can never question its speed, cleanliness and astounding service of efficiency. You can even travel around Japan by simply riding their Shinkansen (新幹線)/ Bullet Train.

They have reloadable Suica Card for passengers, it works as simply tap & go. You can also use the same card when buying at the convenience store or vending machine.

17acda6493c1c27dd5af9e11fa43d7ac979aef63d78c02464a0108c287345959

Trains have schedules and always on time, in case there is a delay, there might be suicide or earthquake.

379e0f24109add9cbed56519e0659ca79f6fdf27447e2c96960fe654bea7d23e

Watch trains, come & go.

22acc357d147a9c0f6c36f77d454c0c5a6e32e77f0d0d03d4c2e884cb21b4b02

 You can reload your card or buy tickets here.

IMG_2087

If you don’t have Suica Card, you can still buy single journey tickets like this.

6. It’s a 4 Seasons country.

It’s just a four hour flight from the Philippines and you can experience spring, summer, fall and winter. Yay!

Sharing my Sakura experience! Cherry blossom usually starts in late March ’til May. They say that it’s the best season to visit Japan in a cool weather.

IMG_2064   Cherry Blossoms when we visited our relatives in Kamakura City.

(My mother will kill me if she see this photo. I love you, Ma!)IMG_2421  Cherry Blossoms in 2014

Since this is my first, I still don’t have any pictures of autumn and winter. As soon as I have one, I will update this post. ♥

7. Matcha Lovers!

Matcha (抹 茶) is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea, it’s widely available in Japan. Most of the restaurants I’ve been to offered green tea rather than water.

5cbc3c08ad0650d54f9756991ba96c275ea6259b6340ec0c83ef3e499d85428f         c0ebea6841d1ad046311ad73069232db60ede495390618c1679d9d3fb26c2123

                    Hot Matcha after Sushi.                                      Vanilla ice cream topped with Matcha.

59c93ec7072ceef6fea158161b2cd5ec34d72eb600ff76606fe117d8f3a9a2de    bfb7957ac0846c643879124f225cda56d1d0696b20d4d5a5df533c9037cbb5a1

Matcha Biscuits

6f2198eaa8ab374fa39f1da1739d1a071a067781dd73d041cc22288dd9855785

Krispy Kreme’s Matcha Doughnut is ♥

dd2db95a541e85439c43f3e747569b9f7df0581db60eb500e52b96afafa4ac0c

Of course, Starbuck’s Matcha Frappuccino.

8. Strawberry

Japan has the largest production and consumption of strawberries ichigo in the world. You can find it easily because of  its availability throughout the year, although the best season is from January to March. 

IMG_6875

Strawberry Shortcake, anyone?

7650a824943401e41206e3cd78f0127f0d9453b04b8061238209cb9433a94f88

8ed1df645f7a7b90d3dc30c69d866b90e77992f5979855658a9863a8d7c17f66

How about strawberry picking? Hey, that’s my beautiful cousin!

9. KitKat Assorted Flavors

Yes, I admit that I am trying and eating new flavors every month. They sell each pack of 12’s for only ¥230 – ¥250.

615e7a90236130cb8b159726fddc92e43e0cac2831be139ed6e916d80af86632

From Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory

Few weeks ago I wrote about Tokyo’s KitKat Chocolatory, Read it here.

60d0befe78ed6f9b7e0c975eb72eeb9f57edadcccabdf31c481b356287867517 1c389c0b088d499664def795d11f9687d39a67a8fe2e710940c6ee9fb74ae227

                            Raspberry                                                                  Green Tea

They say that every city has KitKat specialty; next week I will look for new flavors available in Osaka & Kyoto.

10. Authentic Japanese Food!!!

I love their food! It’s tasty, healthy and comes in big servings. Even Japanese are travelling around their country to try different specialties offered by local towns.

IMG_6192

 IMG_6114

Fresh and Tasty Yakiniku

Authentic Karaage Set

Tonkatsu

Authentic Tonkatsu Set

Ramen

 Shoyu Ramen

7cb8efd6be29495c98f7ddc127ee53537bde705ecec72e4b6daee6df09139ed0

Fresh Sushi Overload!


That’s all for my second post for Japan Diaries.

I know some of you are tech savvy, fascinated with kawaii stuffs and Gundam. I already have it listed and will include it on my next posts.

Again, Thank you for reading!!!

See you! / ja ne / じゃね ♥

Going Around Japan? Willer Express it is.

You read that right! Willer Express seems so perfect for traveling

Japanese residents and for tourists as well.

WILLER Express

WILLER Express

Willer Express is a major highway bus company operating in Japan since 1994.

I know, pink buses are too cute! It’s like it was made for pink lovers.

Last September, I posted my story about climbing Mt. Fuji in celebration of my 24th Birthday. It was totally fun, amazing and very organized. It was my first international climb so I did not risk my safety and took the chance to have my reservation via Willer Express.

It was very easy to make a reservation via their website at http://willerexpress.com/en/. They had schedules for the Mt. Fuji Climbing Package, and I chose the dates closer to my birthday. I would suggest you reserve your slots early, it is honestly cheaper.

  • Reservations are available three months in advance!

Here are the routes available that are also eligible for BUS PASS.

53d80102c80c3a9699a536e9bd7a50bf20ed6b052a1e96774ce3d22f322de337

Sounds good for tourists with Japan Bus Pass

384f1bc65015c2d0ea0ffa3db928e5bd155ac7721e8cbd986d5b73755acc0043

55855519bce93d435bc4873cd746899a30784935e9d38431a18ca9ff0de8e5ef

There are also other routes, however these are not available for Bus Pass. 

dc6b91fa24f31edc133d4190e318c9cdcdd1bba6e53aebf067aed864aeed43ba 564e68ac5d310627ca9248131adca7d969513f0c16adc3241fac857a8e030c9a 43a62e74a6d6349c5315dd684c922d9d9295876849d4f1b955a581345671b462

You can pay using credit card immediately or pay within two days if you opt to pay via convenience store within Japan.

3bf36b20357e3adb2bb16177a9e1717d168cba081fe22a789cdbee461aee8e91

As soon as I made my reservation, I received the confirmation email in less than a minute.

a25e975719e2524cfc8efad5248700f7f5bc4e2fcd0c1261a18b4b456bc1d183

Since I am not a fan of any credit card, I immediately visited Family Mart and pay.

6c79d2f6652e57971363a58e80abe613a3ae5f548e6ad4468ed1a1cbd3ffe796

Ready for my trip!

Their website was easy to navigate and you also have the option to choose which bus you personally prefer, but keep in mind that price varies.

This popular RELAX bus has a blanket, electrical outlet, personal monitor/television, foot rest, leg rest and has wide seat.

1

If airlines have business class, Willer Express also has their EXECUTIVE Bus. It includes blanket, electrical outlet, DVD player, television, foot rest and privacy curtains. This bus also has toilet.

Business Class

You can also choose BEAUTE Ladies in three colors, Pink, Yellow and Red. It has only three seats in a row, blanket, electrical outlet, leg rest and privacy curtains.

Beaut

There are also other buses available depending on your own preference. Comfort and safety is not questionable with Willer Express.

They are also offering free membership registration, each point is equivalent to ¥1.

When we went to Mt. Fuji, we just had a standard bus that has 60 seats capacity and for my upcoming trip to Osaka, I chose the VALUE Bus that will travel overnight. It has blanket, electrical outlet, foot rest and toilet.

It’s also a DOUBLE DECKER BUS! Another first. ♥

Double Decker

Thank to Kuya Eric Muñoz for introducing Willer Express!

Happy Trip!!! 🙂

24th Birthday in Japan’s Tallest Mountain, Mt. Fuji

I am finally turning one of my dreams into reality.

Few weeks ago, I shared my first climb in the Philippines way back 2013. Today, I will share my experience in Japan’s Tallest Mountain, Mt. Fuji, which also served as my first solo pre-birthday climb.

It was late July when I chatted Kuya Eric Muñoz, a good friend I met online. We were supposed to climb together last August however our schedules didn’t matched. He taught me everything I needed to know so I can still push through with the climb.

I started climbing since 2013 and I cannot hide the feeling of gratification whenever I reached the summit. From sunrise to sunset, you will see through your bare eyes, your very own lens, how amazing this world could be. I believe that climbing a mountain is like achieving your goals in life, you work hard and you certainly do your best while reaching the top but the road is steep and you will need people to help and guide you. You will realized that this journey is not just about yourself. However, you still have to be cautious with the people you work with. As you grow, you will learn how to find balance in everything you do.

Mt. Fuji Postcards, Photographed by T. Watanabe
Mt. Fuji Postcards by T. Watanabe

Mount Fuji, is a symbol of Japan and one of the most famous mountains in the world. This mountain contributes to Japan’s physical, cultural and spiritual geography. It is also their tallest mountain, standing at 3,776 meters (12, 380 feet). It is an active stratovolcano that is formed by violent eruptions. It has layers of rock, ash and lava.

– National Geographic

Fuji-san is the most popular tourist site in Japan, for both Japanese and foreign tourists. There are more than 200,000 hikers every year during summer season, from July to September, and I am not confident enough to plan my own itinerary so I decided to have my reservation via Willer Express in advance. There were only four dates available for September, so I chose the dates closer to my birthday and that was September 12th to 13th.

I highly recommend Willer Express because they made our tour climb very easy and well organized. I paid for ¥27,800, which includes our roundtrip bus transportation from Shinjuku to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, accommodation at 8th Station, dinner, breakfast, gear rentals optional) and an English speaking tour guide.

6c79d2f6652e57971363a58e80abe613a3ae5f548e6ad4468ed1a1cbd3ffe796

No need for credit card, I paid my reservation

via Family Mart.

WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

I did not expect my parents to grant my request to climb Mt. Fuji on my own. They were worried because of its difficulty and I am not yet able to fully converse in Nihongo, however, Willer Express made it so easy for us. In line with this, I will write another article about how I got my reservation.

WILLER Express
WILLER Express

After making my reservation, it’s time to prepare the things needed for this major climb. Most of my things were bought by my mother, totally my first time to organize my stuff with Mama. Yes, when I was in the Philippines, I was used to doing things on my own. Please do not misinterpret the statement, I am really happy that I am now living with my family. Who wouldn’t want mother’s care? ♥

Mother knows best. ♥
                          Mother knows best. ♥

I brought the usual essentials for mountain climbing such as the following:

1.5L of water toothbrush and toothpaste bonnet
500ml of Pocari Sweat waterproof bag for my phone      (it might rain) small towel
trail food power bank gloves
wet wipes sunblock jacket
soap hat extra pair of clothes & socks

For capturing memories, I have my three years old iPhone4S, Instax Mini8 and Go Pro Hero 4S.

I wasn’t able to bring my hiking stuffs from the Philippines, so we took advantage of Willer Express Gear Rentals. It includes waterproof Berghaus hiking bag, hiking shoes, headlamp with extra set of batteries, two ski poles and rainwear.

9dbba2038155f38fdaad1ceb91ead8c48cb13b9b4757e7347551b3eefb89ed88

Gear Rentals 

As much as possible I plan to pack light during this climb to avoid too much exhaustion.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

Aside from planning, it is also very important to know what to wear during hiking. Back then, as long as I am comfortable, it won’t matter. 

However, climbing a mountain as high as 3,776 meters or 12,380 feet is alarming. I am supposed to be ready but I still ended up wearing leggings, t-shirt, hoodie, gloves, bonnet, and an extra leggings and socks to wear for the night. Plus the rain wear I rented, in case of rain and strong wind.

Ideally, you should consider the following:

  1. Various layers of clothing since the temperature on the summit is close to the freezing point. 
  2. If rain occurs, I personally don’t advised umbrella. It’s useless. Rainwear is a lot better to keep you dry and warm too.
  3. To keep you warm, do not forget your gloves, bonnet and scarf.
  4. You can also bring head wear for safety due to falling rocks.
  5. Most importantly, please use a durable shoes. 

DAY 1 OF MT. FUJI CLIMB (September 12, 2015) 

Before I do something or go somewhere, I make sure I made my own research of what to expect. I have read few blogs narrating that they were not able to see the sunrise due to bad weather, and I am really good at overthinking. For one month, I prayed for good weather and strength to survive. I was so excited, I didn’t get much sleep. I am supposed to wake up at 4:30 am, and I was up an hour early.

cd78ccee90262f3a794faa599a6ca90fa463759c21588d1f38fd1e0993c207a4

J A P A N by Fodor’s

I’ve got the most caring mother, and the sweetest father.

f692ef80f41fd942ed8384d64ba413356f58905996ad61770fe4b064c34baae4

He woke up early to take me to the meeting place in Shinjuku. We left the house around 5:15 am because we have to be in Sumitomo Building at 7 am. Good thing we left early, train schedules were messed up due to earthquake around 5:50 am. If you noticed, I didn’t mention any breakfast, I am really controlling my bowel movements.

From Shinjuku, it will take a ten minutes’ walk to Sumitomo Building.

IMG_0723

Finally, we arrived around 7:10 am.

41b8f089a6de7debbfc24ceee804bb6efd673c35ce5aa774f327fc12cc50d462

Sumitomo Building

As I checked – in, I was given a piece of paper indicating my bus number, which was 3. Before I proceed in getting my rentals, I said goodbye to Papa and ask him not to worry because I’ll be home tomorrow.

Let the adventure begins. 

On the other room, I was instructed to approach the marshals in yellow vest to claim my rentals. Even though there are a lot of guests, in a minute or two, I was attended already. They provided my gear rentals and asked me to check it. All of the items turned out to be in good quality and clean.

87e2a195b18e099d7a3e8fc560918c045e558e9c8302a136f18d5c818563be7f

While transferring my stuffs, I was already seated beside Hune Lin Liu. She’s a student from Taiwan, who is currently studying here in Tokyo. We looked for the assigned bus and was hoping to seat beside each other. However, we were the last to get inside, so I ended up sitting beside a guy from Germany. I hesitated to start a conversation, since I am so nervous about the whole trip. Seriously, I can’t imagine myself climbing with foreigners, but I know I can take advantage of the English language.

We left Shinjuku before 8 am and I can say that all seats for Bus #3 was taken. My eyes were too observant, I can see participants from different countries.

To start the trip, our bus tour guide introduced himself as Ritsu Orihara. He has been a tour guide for Mt. Fuji for two years, I cannot imagine how many times he climbed their tallest mountain. He has the capabilities of a professional mountaineer and he really can converse in English.

On our way to the 5th Station, he even talked to us one by one. He made rapport to everyone. As I made my turn, I told him that I am from the Philippines, however my family is here and my father is a Japanese so I am staying for good. He was very grateful and has a big smile on his face, saying “Thank you for staying.” I appreciate all his efforts, we all know how Japan needs to boost their young generation.

Moreover, we were given reminders such as the following:

  • bring at least 1.5L of water
  • upon reaching Mt. Fuji all trashes must be kept on our own since there are no garbage bins at the mountain
  • commodes are available in every station but make sure to keep ¥100 coins handy for tip
  • food and drinks are available in every station however it will be pricey

Welcome to Mt. Fuji, A World Heritage Site!

ef7d1b2ce53648892a47c58e743097008cf5a0aab0cd8a784ebc16ac5753e3ba

Our initial view.

It took us three hours to reach the 5th Station, including a 20 minutes stop over. We were still inside the bus, and the view was totally breathtaking! At first I hesitated to take pictures but I can’t contain the urge, so I made a few shots. And that’s when Mr. Germany and I, started a small talk. I’m sorry I forgot his name. He asked what my camera was, and I told him it was Go Pro, an action camera you can use for outdoor activities. He told me that this was his first climb, and he mentioned we were both lucky for a good weather. I totally agree.

Finally at the 5th Station (2,305m) by 11 am. It was a special holiday weekend for the Japanese, and I can say that Mt. Fuji was jam-packed.

4a1fb71e5c06f0280442e67d5660016d6c8e798010aea5b649b0b5d60b465861

5th Station (2,305m)

We were given an hour to eat lunch, go to the rest room and rent a locker if we need to leave some stuff. We were dropped off at Komitake Building. First floor served as the souvenir shop, diner at the second floor and lockers available at the third floor for only ¥300. I leave my backpack and shoes, making my bag lighter. One of Hune Lin Lius friend approached me if she can leave her shoes and I said yes, since I got more space. She handed ¥150 in exchange. I guess we both want to save some bucks.

d3f2b891d1d31c372966992571f0f57f2e9f3a06f8285d5f7c8d710eca4ba9b4

Hashtag Selfie. Hashtag Half Face.

At 12 noon, we all meet at the center of 5th Station (Bay D). All along I thought it was only Ritsu who will guide us, however we have additional tour guides and they were Ishida Motoyuki and Yasuko Kitahara. We had some stretching and short briefing of what to expect, do’s and don’ts.

79fa86e3757a3d7723d177df838c3a8e145b69b0bf58a74b2ffe28d8c2a8a55d

All of them were speaking English, it wouldn’t be so hard to communicate if needed.

Since there were a lot of guests, we were given a badge attached to our shoes and a green fish bag tag indicating we were from Willer Express. In that case, it will be easy for us to acknowledge our group. Instructions were made very clear. They mentioned that the climb usually take 6 hours to 8th station, however guests that weekend were tripled so it might take a little longer.

They assured us that food and drinks were available in some parts of the trail. Same situation applies with restrooms. On the other hand, the higher we climb, the pricier it gets. For example, restrooms in 5th Station costs ¥100, while in 6th to 8th station it will costs ¥200, and at the summit it will be ¥300.

While discerning my environment, I can see participants from all walks of life – there were group of exchange students, couples, families and surprisingly, there were some adult in their late 50’s/60’s.

For safety purposes, they informed us that we should not hesitate to inform them how we are feeling. Climbing Mt. Fuji can still be dangerous because of the weather condition. The weather can be different in every station, simply expect the worst but stay cautious. If in case someone cannot pursue the climb, they can stay at one of the lodgings in 7th Station and meet us the next day at the 5th Station. Trails are properly identified, no need to worry of getting lost.

d7f2704d3144243066e0ced6e23b5baf1a5ea8e2f4d794a091524c68eb2e58c0

Shoe Selfie, my best friend during climb.

We all know that listening to instructions is very important. It’s not just about my safety, but for everyone I am with during this climb. We have to be responsible enough to follow the rules and respect their culture.

Mt. Fuji is named for the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama, whose shrine is found at the summit.

It is the holiest of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains.”

Although especially important to Shintoists, Fuji is also sacred to Japanese Buddhists,

who revere the mountain is a gateway to another world.

Deep inside, I am excited and fidgety at the same time.

Inhale, Exhale.

I can do this with Him. 

In this journey I learned that we all need sometime alone to think and reflect on our own.

We were asked to fall in line. All tour guides were dispersed, Yasuko was in front of the line, Ritsu was at the middle & always does his headcount from time to time and lastly, Ishida or “Gen” at the tail of the line.

We started climbing around 12:35 pm.

e3530a98e5a84415853b823e62cce684cea58501004dcf844e3827f85ae7a19a

Yellow for Yoshida Trail. Go #TeamRitsu!

There are 4 different trails that lead you up to the summit of Mt. Fuji.

  • Yoshida Trail (Yamanashi Prefecture) – most popular; best route to take for climbers with zero experience
  • Fujinomiya Trail (Shizuoka Prefecture) – shortest distance to the summit.
  • Subashiri Trail (Shizuoka Prefecture) – suited for more experienced hikers
  • Gotemba Trail (Shizuoka Prefecture) – most difficult route

At first, the weather was quite tolerable. I remembered applying sunblock as advised by Kuya Eric, and since I am buddy with Hune Lin Liu, I offered the lotion. My hoodie didn’t have any closed pockets so I asked her to keep it, so we can reapply easily. Yay! Big thanks, Darling! ♥

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset
w/ Hune Lin Liu

After almost an hour of walking, we reached the 6th Station, where the ascending and descending trail meets. It was foggy and cold, but I can still manage.

6c8334a17149161dc2599e1e8c8038c293cdec08a09c2202ad5370ab53f45ab5ccc1ac664cd755e7a45b3253a9b0e45c46d08d5d0edb18d789273a88a2ee92bf

64e518475d8616bdb8d6be37cde5ba74592f8d5dedc831d4476236672831dc07

However, we were told that we might reach 7th Station in 2 – 3 hours and there will be no restrooms available along the trail.

c9c2e09fa3f7999885853ad1d64902f8ba94edd446000b71788e5fdc566ae407

Portable restrooms costs ¥200. Please be reminded that no one will collect fees from using the restrooms. You have to drop the coins at the tip box. As I go inside, it was totally smelly but no litters around. I guess everyone was disciplined enough to follow rules.

2cbb4747fce180d2dd83074e35238066d669419dbf80d3207a217157d593ec05

As we continue hiking, trail gets steeper and busier.

af97126117d7d41b83ec1ce8384c3ab2f27c5dc9349128a15c0aacfb181ab740

The mighty sun says “Hi” to everyone.

It was getting hotter and I don’t want my usage of Koji soap into waste! So, I didn’t removed my hoodie. If you noticed, I didn’t eat much but I drink a lot. Along the trail, I already finished 500 ml of Pocari Sweat.

Here are some photos showing how ‘konderu’ it was during that day. 

da32ee93d776a60eb6e32607434063405c2efaab81e047433bec8fb1203c00b5

cae77199714fae62ade265f18350b6c5f9218bc53ac1f582f42972a6b45777c1

konderu (混んでいる) means crowded

3a0f84f1e56ad07f09074a465476a4bca27a84815b5961bab0be7bf9936cf4c6

As we walked along the sides of Mt. Fuji, we were in awe of the sea of clouds

on our way to the 7th Station.

7d60730e457788a6f5718f2f8e79b29f7a579940ac6317af7b8a75fdba65f516

It was beautiful and breathtaking.

804e17ae239868cd2646a31b7b513b73531092cf7bd76be93e8db94399e50bc6

Hiking Buddies!

Since it was the last week of hiking season for September, they were expecting thousands of hikers that weekend. Everyone had a smile on their faces, I think we were all excited to reach the 8th station and take a rest.

We walked continuously and I took a drink once in awhile. The water was cold and refreshing. I noticed I am having dried lips, good thing I have my lip balm. 

We reached 7th Station (2,700m) around 4 pm and I was already gasping of air. I made some deep breathing exercisesThe higher we climb, the air becomes thinner. 

0c68cf6a7782c5c9200f2183775ea339831d4593265e39ebc2602a341aac1c79

Meet Ishida Motoyuki and  Yasuko Kitahara.

I kept on telling myself “I can do this”. I am thankful I found a good company. They were really nice, including the tour guides who constantly checked on our condition.

Be reminded to replenish with water and few snacks to have enough strength. I was indeed challenged with this climb, aside from the altitude, I was struggling with the cold temperature.

“Gambarimasu” Team Ritsu!

I saw Mr. Germany, and I did not hesitate to take the available seat beside him. We made a small talk. He told me that the pace was too slow, due to traffic jam of climbers. Oh snap! It was absolutely all right for me, on the other hand, it will take us longer hours to reach the top.

Since I drink a lot, goodbye ¥200.

7d320ee15b04d4df39582aa657c57f6e44c313a5184ed8bc218afa8b6b160254

This restroom was way better than the portable ones in 6th Station, it has flush available and supply of tissue. As advised, we can flush after a few use, since the water supply is limited at the mountain.

At the  7th Station, around 2,900m, you will see the red Torii-gate as the land mark of Torii-So.

753f84485d210aa7b66fbbcdbd4fbb91a069884361eb6d660f62356262072f05

Torii-So at 2,900m

Before we continue walking, our tour guides reminded us that the trail to 8th Station will be harder, steeper and more challenging. Again, I told my inner self to stay calm and be cautious.

Aja! I can do this.

We resumed walking and I bumped into some Malaysian folks. We had a good small talk about mountains and my previous visit in Kuala Lumpur. As much as I would like to join them walking, I needed some rest, so I let them get ahead of me. I found Hune Lin Liu and we walked side by side. She was so kind, and I am very grateful.

I did not noticed I was already walking with Gen and the lady from India. Again, I forgot her name. My bad.

6c534e8f92953e22f1ca1123da18acab4d5dacfaa7fe794fcbce806befe3f99b

4 Asians in 1 Photo

Gen from Japan, Lady from India, Hune from Taiwan and yours truly from the

beautiful island of the Philippines.

This photo was taken at 6 pm and we were half way through the 8th Station. 

f9536e7a1a6cdcf52257ab4216869cb21a7a71792a1ecb81160abf42f45d67ed

My legs were already tired from walking. I remember the lady from India sharing her jacket because I was already shaking. It was a cold, windy night. Participants from Team Ritsu continue their hike, while six of us took a 10-15 minutes rest while waiting for Gen, he was assisting last few hikers from the group.

Aside from my short legs, I am not used to cold weather.

I told myself, ‘Challenge Accepted’.

As soon as he arrived, we continue walking. Gen kept on telling us to walk slowly and perform deep breathing. I saw his heavy hiking bag, but he can still smile and cheer for everyone. He was very kind and considerate. I walked with him so I can push myself to continue.

I had no pictures for the night. Priority: Safety.

We reached the 8th Station First Aid area around 7 pm. Unfortunately, we have to leave some of the members of #TeamRitsu.

7 hours of walking amidst the moody weather, was no joke at all. 

We were just 300 meters away from our mountain lodge. I walked hand in hand with Gen and it was like hiking with your personal coach. He taught of deep breathing and lend me another jacket. We had few small talks, I am not sure if he had been or he wanted to visit Cebu. Little did I know, we were already at Hon-Hachigome Tomoe-kan (本八合目トモエ館). Without his help, I couldn’t make it. I was also grateful, I did not experience altitude sickness.

If you are planning to hike Mt. Fuji next season, you should make your reservation ahead of time. Most of the mountain huts turned out to be full during the crowded season.

For the list of mountain huts, please click here.

We arrived at Tomoe-kan (3,400m) at 8:15 pm. We took some rest until we were called for dinner. I had no picture of the food, but it was hamburger-topped curry and rice. I wasn’t able to finish everything but it was delicious.

They can accommodate up to 250 guests with their bunk beds, with Japanese futon or sleeping bags. If you are hungry, you need not to worry because they are also serving dinner and breakfast for hikers. At the entrance of their hut, you will also see that they are selling noodles, water, energy drink, chocolates, chips, souvenirs and post cards.

These photos from Official Travel Guide Yamanashi were the exact place were I slept with international strangers turned new friends.

Tomoe-kan 2 Tomoe-kan

Hon-Hachigome Tomoe-kan (本八合目トモエ館)

I forgot to mention that you can buy Mt. Fuji stick that will serve as your pole. In each station, you can have stamps on it for ¥300-600. 

fs stick

I am lying comfortably on my Japanese futon at 9:30 pm, while charging my gadgets. FYI, WiFi signal was excellent at Mt. Fuji. I wanted to sleep but my head can’t stop thinking of the sunrise.

DAY 2 OF MT. FUJI CLIMB (September 13, 2015) 

a74e854c3f26ed3f05ae7b06669af6ba6cd82ad7b2faafa443a23fea24c03109

I woke up around 1 am, it was very cold and immediately went to the restroom. Goodbye ¥200. 

We were supposed to climb the summit at 2:30 am to witness the sunrise at 5 am, but they rescheduled it to 3:30 am due to strong winds. I got cough and colds already.

The long wait is over, sunrise at 5:20 am.

1d39a302bcdf1743afbbeea2a862e66edb5d6aef466cda2e47a889aafa3a8fff

It was indeed one of the best Sunday Morning I had.

524e6bce8badc9c86be31498c1d370d019ca6c459c8d646ea8acff0f541556d0

Meet the Sun and Moon in one picture.

9c7ef49427098637cadd9187331eefe3f3b3aa090bdc90c7f1549322cff6cffd

Goraiko (ご来光) means Sunrise.

1b6ebe2076664bd8b31ba7909a2f6d21f762cb415833bf69291558d67442082f

Go has the meaning of politeness and respect. Rai means coming. Ko means light.

84def631f1a92940ca2283e4269070e48c5eccf1eac66eb708b19f70875f41c9

Words are not enough to describe how beautiful you are. 

b7a522aa21979f07ae86753d7c2d5ad1abc0b46b48afad49fa50800bea3f6e2a

My 8th Mountain for my 24th Year of Existence. 

Despite the challenges of this climb, I am still grateful for the opportunity and the people around me. I felt like I am a new person facing a new world and starting a new beginning. My decision to live away from the things and people I am used to will be hard and entails a lot of adjustments, but to live with my family is the greatest.

Last night, our tour guide informed us that we can walk around the crater of Fuji-san for an additional ¥500. 

b3aac11013f0ee6a4883f6d8a2b373afe9899ed041e88ab76ac4a5b1b78003a6

However, the weather wasn’t that good after the sunrise contradicting the forecast above. There was strong winds and mild rain.

Before we begin the descent, we had a sumptuous breakfast.

e24f2ff023d3f320395a15e5cbf45484876195bc9ea6fa26d0abe3e2bd39c0ca

Gomoku Rice. Salmon. Tamago. All for Mt. Fuji Breakfast.

According to Ed Viesturs, “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory”. I guess no matter how great things turned out to be, we still have to go down and face our own mountain.

We left 8th Station at 8 am. If you think you were strong enough to ascend this mountain, going down was a lot more challenging! It was slippery with pebbles, wind gets colder and stronger with rain. Honestly, this was the the worst part.

119c9becfd841574ed26ce67755e6de68449c55ef5eab6c92fdee95f9407da2e

One and Only Photo while descending Mt. Fuji.

I descended the mountain from 8 am to 12:50 pm. I heard myself praying a lot of times, praying for the strong winds to stop. It didn’t stop, even the rain continues to fall and I have to continue despite these challenges. Just like in reality, you don’t let your problems stop you.

We were supposed to meet at Komitake Building at 12 noon. During that time, the Indian lady and I, were still at the 6th Station. I am already exhausted and crying of pain, it was very cold and my body was shaking. Gen and Yasuko, tried their best to assist me while walking. While holding my legs, Gen performed few massage and I can’t help but cry. He knew I am in pain. I saw him talking to some security officials and that’s when he told us that someone will take us to the 5th Station. I don’t know what to say, I am so thankful for this man. I couldn’t make it without him. 

We were late for an hour and felt so sorry for the inconvenience. Again, I am seated beside Mr. Germany, he asked me where I had been and I told him what happened. They arrived at the 5th Station at 11 am and took all the time to rest while waiting for us. This time I did not hesitate to thank everyone.

We left 5th Station at 1 pm and arrived at the Kawaguchiko Lake at 2 pm. We have our option to try ‘onsen’ or rest inside the bus. I chose the latter. I took some rest and arrange my stuffs. No worries, I got my things from the rented locker. We returned the gear rentals at 3:15 pm.

Finally! We reached Shinjuku at 8 pm, it was traffic at the expressway.

That was long, but hey if you reached this part,

THANK YOU FOR READING, I APPRECIATE IT! ♥

Learning doesn’t stop inside the four walls of your classroom, it is a continuous process. I am already 24, and I am still learning a lot in various aspects. Once in a while, you have to do something new, something that will challenge yourself. We all have our own mountain to conquer, each path might be different but it will be worth it. I don’t pray for an easy climb or life, I pray for the strength to carry on no matter how hard, how high it will be.

We’re not cats, we have one life to live, so make it worthwhile.

Reach what you aim to be and I wish you the best. 

e9ae138b688add45d256cea327ca5bd6e2079c0a78eaca6aed59da61af2fe2e6

Post Climb Selfie

It was indeed a very memorable weekend and birthday, at

Japan’s Tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji.

“24 Hours in Mt. Fuji for my 24th Year of Existence”

Again, I am forever grateful for the gift of life.