Japan in 7 Days for Only ₱18,000

Sounds good, right? And this includes plane tickets, airport fees, accommodation, food, a pocket WiFi, a trip to Universal Studios Japan and a few souvenirs. But a little disclaimer, I just have to say that this isn’t easy. You need to have the stars aligned in your favor to be lucky enough and get the cheapest flight, to not be choosy and book the cheapest (but still decent) accommodation, and be patient enough to do some research to score some deals (ticket discounts and vouchers).

I actually didn’t spend ₱18,000 because I bought a lot of stuff for my online shop called RanShoppe (shameless plug) and I also did some art tools hunting for my artsy projects (for watercolor painting and calligraphy – check out Dust Designs if you’re interested) (yeah, another shameless plug). But not everyone has an online shop and not everyone has this art hobby, so all the money I paid for those things doesn’t count. Some of you may think that this is a joke and say that the ₱18,000 could just cover the plane tickets and terminal fee alone. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, you have to be really lucky to get a roundtrip ticket for just ₱2,400 like I did (thanks to GetGo). But even if the circumstances are different for you now, I think you can still pickup a couple of money saving tips with this trip. So this is how I managed to do it:

Visa Application (₱950)

For the second time around, I applied for my Japan visa via Reli Tours and Travel agency because they have the cheapest handling fee. Luckily, I was granted a multiple entry visa for this trip. Yay!

Roundtrip Tickets (₱2,400) + Terminal Fee (₱1,620)

I booked my ticket via Cebu Pacific using my GetGo points. At that time (maybe 7 months before our actual trip), GetGo held a promo. For only 10 points, you can book a one-way ticket to any country you want (so 20 points for a roundtrip ticket) and all you had to pay for is the travel taxes and web admin fees which amounted to ₱2,400. If you have a gazillion points, you can also have the option to pay the taxes and fees with those points so you can basically fly for free. I had about maybe 15,000 GetGo points at that time because I kept on converting my BPI Real Thrills Reward Points to GetGo points. You can do this as well if you have a credit card and love traveling. If you can cover the base fare with just GetGo points, all you have to do is pay for the taxes.

Accommodation via Airbnb (₱2,650)

I stayed in Japan for 7 days so that’s just ₱450 pesos per night! Some person gave me a referral link and that includes a ₱1,000+ voucher discount for my booking. You can also get an additional discount from Airbnb for a one-week stay. I came with four of my friends on this trip so what I did was, I gave them my own referral link and they got the same discount. I’m going to share with you my link as well if you also want to get that P1,100 discount on your first booking with Airbnb which is: www.airbnb.com/c/gleniza.

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We stayed at Four Letter Words Hostel which is a very humble and straightforward accommodation. All the basics are available: comfy sleeping nooks, fast WiFi, hot showers, it’s also in a great location plus you get an entertaining and very kind host. He even offered us a free stay on our next trip to Japan! He said that we can stay there for as long as we want and bring some friends. I honestly don’t know what more could you ask for.

Pocket WiFi via Klook (₱1,615 – only ₱230 per day)

This I think is optional for some people. But I like renting a pocket WiFi when traveling to Japan. Their train lines can get pretty complicated so I always have to look up train stations and the appropriate fare for each train ride online. When navigating, the site I always go to is called Hyperdia. This amount could get much cheaper if you’re traveling with your friends or family since you could just split up the total rental fee. I was given a 7GB data allowance and I only consumed around 4GB during my whole stay.

Kansai 3-Day Pass via Klook (₱1,990)

I got a 3-day pass since I planned on traveling to Nara, Kyoto and Kobe. You can opt for a 2-day pass which is a couple hundred cheaper if you want to leave out Kobe in your itinerary. But going to Nara and Kyoto is highly highly recommended! In my case, I lost my pass when we were in Kyoto so I had doubts to go to Kobe the next day. So it’s up to you if you would like to get a 2 or a 3-day pass. Klook also offers promo codes, and since I’m a first time Klook user, I was able to get roughly 15% discount when I purchased the pass and pocket WiFi. I just used the promo code GETKLOOKD (not sure if this is still active though).

As you may notice, I kept on thinking of ways to get discounts in every purchase I make for this trip. That’s what I meant when I said that you got to have patience. Research first before making hasty (and expensive) decisions. Ok next:

Universal Studios Japan ticket via Klook (₱3,380)

I didn’t really visit USJ during this trip because I had the chance to go there last year. But my friends did so I included it here. I was busy buying stuff in Don Quijote while they were enjoying their USJ visit. I think last year, we spent ₱3,500 for our USJ ticket; so booking via Klook is a bit cheaper. And as you may already notice, Klook really helped us a lot with this trip. It’s very convenient that we can book all these things with just one app. Aside from convenience, the most important thing is that it’s cheaper.

Transportation to and from Kansai International Airport (₱850)

I included this separately because traveling to and from the airport is pretty expensive. From the airport, we just rode a train going to Tengachaya station which is just a 10 to 15-minute walk from our hostel. It was quite a long walk because we had our luggages in tow. But it’s much easier since we don’t have to transfer train stations.

Tourist Spots (Almost Free)

With our Kansai Passes in hand, we toured around Kyoto, Nara and Osaka for cheap. So all we need to set aside are the entrance fees for the different shrines, temples, etc. But the great thing is, most of the entrance fees for some of the great tourist spots are free! I think I only shelled out ₱200 when I went to Osaka National Museum of Art. It would have been another ₱200 when we visited Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) but our good friend Irving took care of that (Thanks Irving!). But still, it’s just a couple of hundred pesos and the rest of them are free! Let me show you around:

Nara

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I think this is at Kasuga Taisha
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Nara Park
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Nandaimon Gate
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The five story pagoda near Kofukuji Temple
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One of my most favorite shots by Doc Irving
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Some cool background we found
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Eastern Golden Hall
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Photo Op
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Somewhere around Nara Park

Kyoto

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Tenryuji Temple
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Somewhere around Arashiyama
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Arashiyama Bamboo Grove!
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Near the Togetsu-kyo Bridge
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Fushimi Inari Taisha
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Torii gates
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Kinkakuji aka Golden Pavilion (₱200)

Osaka

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Dotonbori
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Osaka National Museum of Art
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₱200
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Osaka’s New World: Shinsekai

Food (it depends)

This is somewhat tricky because different people have different appetites. In my case, I can go having only two meals per day; but I’m always tempted to buy desserts (which can get a little expensive). And it also depends on your food choices because some restaurants are really pricey (like when we craved for katsu). Your best bet for a filling but inexpensive meal is at gyudon restaurants. It’s a good thing that everything is somewhat still fresh from my memory so I can give you a general food price guide when eating out in Japan.

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Crab flavored piggy
  • Instant noodles [₱60-80]
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Pwede na
  • Sandwiches at Family Mart/Lawson/7-11 [₱100-120]
  • Mcdo [₱150-200]
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Best takoyaki (somewhere in Namba)
  • Takoyaki (6-8 pcs) [₱250-300]
  • Gyudon [₱150-200]
  • Ramen [₱300-500]
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Mouthwatering okonomiyaki
  • Okonomiyaki [₱200-300]
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Sosyal na chami
  • Soba [₱300-400]
  • Katsu meal set [₱500-600]
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Lengua cone
  • Ice cream cones [₱150-200]

Souvenirs (₱400-500)

The above amount can buy you a keychain, maybe two fridge magnets, and one pouch of Kit Kat. So if you have a lot of friends and relatives requesting for their pasalubongs, or if you want to try all the different flavors of Kit Kat and other Japan goodies, adjust this amount accordingly.

And that’s it! So a sample itinerary would be:

  • Day 1 – Arrival at KIX (in our case we arrived at night)
  • Day 2 – Nara
  • Day 3 – Osaka (USJ)
  • Day 4 – Kobe
  • Day 5 – Kyoto
  • Day 6 – Osaka + Shopping
  • Day 7 – Departure

I hope this helps! Enjoy your Japan trip in the near future!

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Dust Designs

Haven’t done any blogging lately and I’m hating myself for it. It always crosses my mind but I wasn’t getting myself around to do it. I almost didn’t want to write now because I’m about to sleep already. My neurons are still kind of recuperating from the art class that I took this morning (I took an art class! Yay!). But so much stuff has been happening lately and I need to talk about it. I want my future self to go back and remember these things. Let’s have it as a list.

  • CANADA We’re done with our medical test and we passed! All we have to do now is wait for the passport request. Once we get notified of this, it means that they’re going to stamp our passports with PR visas (finally)! So keeping our fingers crossed for that. It’s kind of bittersweet though because that also means we’re leaving our families here in the Philippines. 😢 Oh well.
  • ART VENTURE I’m becoming more serious in pursuing my passion in art. Last week, I took my first ever art workshop about water brush calligraphy and it was a lot of fun. It was kind of bitin and pricey (Php 2,000 for 2 hours) but I enjoyed it. What I liked most about the experience is meeting the artist. I saw firsthand how she works and just listening to her tips and insights made me feel really good about this art venture. Seeing how good she is at what she does motivated me more to be as skilled as her. And then earlier this morning, as previously mentioned, I attended another workshop. This time, it’s about the fundamentals of drawing (Php 1,950 for roughly 5 hours). I guess I’d have to reserve a separate post for this because I’m thinking of writing every detail that happened today because it’s still fresh from my memory. To cut things short, I learned A LOT today. Didn’t think of actually being able to draw this (pictured below). I felt more confident than yesterday and I’m actually glad that I’m taking the necessary steps to improve my skills (even if it comes with a price). It’s definitely worth it! The instructor (Joms de Mesa) said something that I want myself to always remember. He said something along these lines, “If you were able to do this on your first try, just imagine what you can do if you keep on doing this for a year.” And that’s very true and a really good reminder to keep on going. To tie this all up together, I made an IG account dedicated to my art called @dust.designs (hence the title of this blog post). I hope to see a transition (from noob to expert) on my future posts so I need to keep on learning and practicing.
  • TRAVEL Hope everything goes well when we apply for our Japan visas next week. We’re hoping to go back there again this coming October. Nick should better be approved this time! I’m excited to stroll around the districts of Osaka then maybe go back to Kyoto. Not sure. Haven’t made an itinerary yet. I’m also looking forward to go visit some art stores in Japan. I hope I won’t get overwhelmed and start buying everything that looks kawaii. I also notice that most of the quality tools that’s being recommended in art blogs are from Japan, so I think I can buy it cheaper there. More better reasons to go back!
  • LIFE IN GENERAL I’m actually in good spirits right now. Mainly because of me trying to do the things I love like drawing, watercolor and some traveling. I feel happy whenever I produce a decent work and see myself improving. It’s an extra boost if I post it and somebody likes it (sometimes ❤️ or 😲 if I’m using Facebook 😄). Although in hindsight, I sometimes worry and think about some negative things. Thoughts like, “What are you planning to do with art? Are you going to get money from it? There’s a lot of people better than you.” and “Why do you keep on traveling? Traveling costs a lot of money. Do you have a lot of money? No you don’t! Why not save it instead and use it for things that really matter? You’re being selfish.” Stuff like that. I try not to think of these things because it dampens my mood and it demotivates me. I know that this “art thing” isn’t something that’s certain to make me earn money; but I’m loving every minute of it! What’s important is that I’m doing what I’m passionate about and for me, that matters. But it doesn’t mean that I’m going to quit my job (for now) and just do art. Of course I’ll keep my job (for now 😁) while doing stuff I like on the side. I’m just now in a state where I fully understand that life is really short. Yes, earning money is necessary to live. But making art and traveling is what I live for. For me, it gives more value and quality to my life. I’m just thankful that I finally know what I want to do. I felt very lost before. I was in a position where I’m very discontented and don’t know what I’m doing. I wan’t someone to tell me what to do and give me the answers because I have no clue what I’m supposed to be doing. And then, just like magic, I finally figured out who that someone is. That someone who will give me the answers. Me. Finally, I was able to figure it out. And I’m not gonna stop now.
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My logo!

Okay, that’s it. Got kind of emotional back there. Haha. I hope I can blog more frequently. I almost forgot that writing feels soothing and therapeutic. It also keeps my mind in the right perspective. Until then!

Japan Itinerary Day 5/7: Meiji Shrine, Shibuya Crossing & Tokyo Sky Tree

Sep 12, 2016

We arrived in Tokyo at around 7 AM. Our stop will be at Shinjuku. From there, we’ll figure out how to get to our next Airbnb accommodation. Our host sent us very clear instructions on how to get to their house from Oshiage station. Navigating around Japan gets easier and easier because we’re getting used to their transportation network. But we also learned to immediately ask questions when we find ourselves utterly dumbfounded.

So the plan is, once we get settled in, we’ll just take a shower, eat breakfast, then start our day already. Nauwi nanaman kami sa gyudon resto cos they’re usually open 24 hrs. Natutuwa na talaga ko sa chopsticks skills ko (say “chopsticks skills” 10 times). Naalala ko lang uli nung kumakain kami dito. As for those two (Benson & Bong), they’re already in Tokyo as well. Bong will stay with us for one night and Benson will be with his aunties. Medyo nag-kanya kanya na kami when we were in Tokyo. Our itinerary for the day:

  • Meiji Shrine
  • Photos with Hachiko
  • Cross Shibuya Crossing
  • Tokyo Sky Tree

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Japan Itinerary Day 1/7: Osaka Kansai Airport & Ken and Mark Guesthouse

Sep 8, 2016

We were already at the airport three and a half hours before our flight. The plane will depart at 3:00 PM then 8:00 PM (Japan time) would be the arrival time. At first, I thought the 8:00 PM that’s indicated in our ticket is also Manila time so I thought that it would take 5 hours to get to Japan. That’s why at 6:45 PM (Manila), I was just chilling in the plane because I thought we still have one hour before arrival. But the pilot suddenly spoke and announced that we will deplane in about 15 minutes. I got excited and started to fix my things and my hair then wore my shoes.

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