Traveling has always been a dream of mine. If asked where do I see myself five years from now, I would always visualize myself walking on the streets of some random country, being one with the crowd, feeling completely and utterly at ease. Japan has always been a passing travel dream destination, I’ve dreamt about it but that’s all there really is to it. A dream.
Osaka, Japan: Where it all began
One spontaneous decision turned into one spontaneous adventure. It was November 2015, I randomly asked my cousin if she still wanted to push through her Japan adventure on March 2016 and she told me she did and she asked me to go with her. I thought, I’ve always wanted to travel somewhere, anywhere, so why not? After a few hours of discussing everything, we impulsively bought a ticket for March 6th until 13th. It was actually a quite expensive ticket because we were in a rush to buy, thinking it’ll get more expensive that it already is (it was about P12k+ in Philippine peso for a round trip ticket from Mnl to Kansai). You can actually watch out for seat sales at Cebu Pacific Air for flights going to Japan, there are 3 destinations (Narita/Tokyo, Kansai/Osaka and Fukuoka). A month before your trip, you have to apply for a Japanese Visa. It’s actually quite easy as long as you are able to pass all the requirements. You will get your results after 5 working days of passing your requirements. Don’t forget to reserve a hotel or in our case a hostel (where I highly recommend J-Hoppers Osaka Guesthouse if you decide to stay in Osaka, Japan) 2 months before your trip. Make sure you have a credit card with you because you’ll need it for the reservation fee, don’t worry it’s safe. Another tip is to rent a pocket wifi (you’ll need it, I swear). We used Global Advanced Communications wifi and you can actually choose from a lot of options depending on which is more beneficial to your travel situation, you don’t even have to worry on how or where to pick it up because you can choose for it to be delivered to your hostel or hotel for free (they will even deliver it the day before you arrive, you just have to inform your hostel beforehand about the delivery).
Fast forward to March 6th, it was the start of everything. We arrived at Kansai Airport at around 8pm (Japan time is an hour ahead from Manila time), it was approximately 4 hours of plane ride from Manila. It was about 18 degrees Celsius when we arrived, if you love cold weathers like me then you came to the right place. My advice to you is to track the weather report a few weeks before you arrive (if you’re traveling between the days we went there which was March 6-13, you can bring any light jacket or a leather jacket, a winter jacket (yes, the weather is unpredictable so better be prepared), boots (because there would be a lot of walking) and tons of sweaters. Due to my uncontrollable giddiness, I accidentally grabbed another person’s luggage. I didn’t even realize it until an airport staff asked me if I was sure that was my luggage and when I checked, oops! But as luck would have it, it was settled.
First thing’s first
Make sure you change your pocket money to yen. The airport provides currency exchange centers when you exit the departure area. First thing’s first, you have to buy the Osaka Amazing Pass, highly recommend it especially if you’re planning to stay in Osaka for 2 to 3 days. It will give you options from 1 day pass to a 2 day pass (again, I recommend the 2-day pass, definitely worth it). It includes a lot of free admissions on different tourist spots in Osaka, discounts on some restaurants and there’s unlimited subway ride (which will definitely be a big help on your budget). The price is very reasonable. You can purchase it at the tourist information counter at the airport. If you’re planning to travel inter-city or from one city to another, I recommend Japan Rail Pass. It will be kind of pricey but if you’re traveling from city to city then I’m pretty sure it would save you tons of money (although if you’re only planning to travel between Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Kobe or other near cities, then I personally would not recommend the JR Pass). Note: The JR-Pass is bought online so you better purchase one before arriving Japan.
Osaka, here we come!
After buying our Osaka Amazing Pass, the biggest dilemma occurred. We didn’t know how to get to our hostel but the awesome thing about our hostel is they have instructions on how to get there, click on this link to know how. We followed the second travel tip where we took Kanku Kaisoku and got off at JR Fukushima Station but if you’re still in doubt, there’s always another option to ask a random japanese. You can purchase your train ticket from the ticketing office in the airport, you can ask around to find out where. We actually just “followed the crowd” when we got there so it was pretty effective. My advice after buying the ticket is to “follow the crowd” again because they will usually lead you to the right place but the next dilemma is deciding the correct train to ride in. You basically have two trains to choose from, one going to the right and one to the left. Best way to not get lost on your first day in Japan is to directly ask the train driver if you’re on the correct train by showing your ticket, then you relax and wait.
After an hour and a few minutes of train ride, we finally got to our destination. It is actually quite easier to navigate if you arrived at Fukushima Station because the instruction on J-Hopper’s website is quite easy to understand. Again, here’s the link if you’re too tired to scroll back up. Follow the instruction from JR Fukushima station (3-minutes walk).
See! Look at how cozy our hostel is. The downside was the unending stairs, if you brought a big luggage, then sucks to be you but you’ll get used to it. Like I did.
First night out
After a long day, we decided to go out and look for something to eat. We walked for about few blocks from our hostel and we saw this restaurant, it was called Buff. Looks good enough to have our first ever meal in Japan. The best thing about this restaurant is that every time someone comes in, the staff would yell some random japanese words. It was so funny to witness.
Wasabi pasta (It’s really good, I swear!) and some random chicken food (I actually forgot what it was). We had dinner then returned back to the hostel to get a good night’s rest for the awesome adventure the next day.
Enjoyed my post?
To know more about my 7 remaining days in Japan, you can always check out wait for my next spontaneous post on my travel blog The Spontaneous Wanderer. See you!