Travel and Tour Japan
Japan is well known for famous car makers, Sushi, Mt. Fuji, and much more. It is vastly rich in culture, history, art, food and sightseeing. Even as a country that requires a tourist visa for Filipinos, it is one of the top destinations we Filipinos would love to go to. From manga (comics) and art collectors, Pokemon collectors, to cheap electronics hunters, we always have a lot of reasons to visit Japan. Aside from Filipinos, other nationalities love to visit Japan for it’s rich tourist attractions and for being one of the safest places on earth. Also, thanks to the increasing number of Japanese being able to speak English, the tourism industry has picked up its pace fast after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. More and more budget airlines are flying into Japan and they are planning to operate both Narita and Haneda international airports (near Tokyo) round the clock to cater to more tourists. We have just recently journeyed to Tokyo to share with you some of our experiences in our tour to Japan.
|Tokyo, Japan Tour October departure
Free and Easy Tokyo Japan Tour
|Christmas in Japan|
We have taken Philippine Airlines’ flight to Narita International, but there are also other commercial airlines that flies direct, like Delta Airlines, Cebu Pacific and All Nippon Airways (some are code share with PAL). Just 4 hours away from Manila, just double the flying time of our favorite Hong Kong flight. Although it is just a short flight, schedules always fall early or mid morning, or mid afternoon, so might need to eat heavy before take off if you are flying on a budget carrier or if you don’t fancy airplane food.
Tokyo hotel room sizes and space are almost synonymous to Hong Kong. Centrally located hotels may not be as comfy and spacious as your Holiday Inn hotel stay in Manila, but you will get the comfort of having an easy access to public transportation. We stayed in Yokohama, particularly in Yokohama Royal Park hotel, which is outside Tokyo city center (1 hour away), have more spacious room, and have a perfect view of Mt. Fuji on a clear sunny day. Accommodations are really quite expensive compared to rates in Manila, but you will always get a decent breakfast in most hotels.
Every package tour you take in Tokyo would most of the time include the Tokyo Tower where you could take an elevator up to the viewing deck and see a 360 degree panoramic look of the whole Tokyo. It is a communications tower used by the Japanese for most media and you would get to see Manga characters displayed at the lobby of the tower.
Still currently in use by the emperor, tourists get to see the Imperial palace from afar (around 200 meters away) at the Nijyu-Bashi Bridge where they could take a photo stop.
Shinjuku, Asakusa, Akihabara and Odaiba
These are the famous shopping districts in Tokyo where you could find cheap electronic products (Asakusa) that are brand new or pre-owned, novelty stores (Asakusa), shoes and watches (Shinjuku) and outlet stores (Odaiba). Most Uniqlo outlets in Japan are on sale and have specially marked down prices compared to branches here in the Philippines. These districts are full of life, people bustling from places to places. It is a haven for locals and tourist alike.
Like any Disneyland park in the world, it features Disney characters and rides from hit movies and attractions in Disney. But unlike in Disneyland Hong Kong and Anaheim, the wait time is 3 to 4 times longer than the usual, and you would see the patience and virtue of the Japanese people, waiting in line, even for an hour just for an ice cream. If you are staying in Tokyo (city center), visit the park on its opening hours, get a fast pass and ride as many as you can while the hoard of tourists is still thin. A day in the park would only let you ride 5 – 6 attractions, but if they are your favorites, then it would be worth the wait.
Japan is also famous for its Sakura or Cherry Blossom trees, riddled along river banks, some streets and lakes, which is a once a year treat for locals, and once in a life time for tourists. The Japanese even tasks their weather bureau to predict when they would bloom, not just for a heads up for tourism, but also to schedule their annual Cherry blossom festival.
Eating out and shopping
Like Manila, Tokyo is filled with malls, shopping centers and restaurants. With the current inflation (rate almost similar to Philippines), you would find food and everyday items relatively the same price here in Manila (if you convert Yen to Peso). You could always dine in malls and eat authentic Japanese food ala carte or in buffet, but for a more unique experience, visit traditional restaurants (a lot in Asakusa) where you could eat traditional Japanese meals served in the most traditional way: you leave your shoes at the door, you sit or kneel at the table, they will serve soup and traditionally cooked meals. Although, traditional way would also mean more expensive. Some would pay 20,000 Yes or almost P7,000 just for a chef to prepare fresh sushi or Tempura or Katsu in front of you. But there are always food stalls where food is cheaper (also a lot in Asakusa) and get the same experience like we see in Japanese cartoons and movies.
For a country so near, geographical and in the hearts of some Filipinos, it is so far as well as some find it hard to get a visa. Even if Japan is in a recession and have made visa requirements easy, some of our fellow Filipinos are denied of a visa. Most of the time the reason is insufficient travel history, or you haven’t traveled that much yet (to Hong Kong or Singapore or to any country not requiring a visa). Let’s face it, we have a lot of undocumented Filipino migrant workers in Japan, and their government are having some problems with it. If you plan to visit Japan, try Hong Kong or China first, before applying for a Japan tourist visa. If you have been to places already and need a list of requirements, check out the list below. The embassy/consulate of Japan accept application only from accredited travel agencies, so it is best to get the tour and visa assistance from a reliable travel agency.
Here are the requirements for a tourist visa application:
– Passport Original – Must be valid for 6 Months
– 2pcs 4.5cm x 4.5cm size photo with white background
– Original NSO Birth certificate
– Original NSO Marriage Contract
– Original Personal Bank Certificate with at least 3 months bank Statement
– Income Tax Return (ITR)
If Self Employed:
– DTI and/or SEC Business Registration Certificate
– Certificate of Employment stating position, tenure of service and gross annual income Approve and signed leave of absence
If a Student:
– Photocopy of School ID, School Certificate, and Affidavit of Support
There is no need for personal appearance, just provide an authorization letter to the travel agency.