Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts

Oct 22, 2019

Itinerary: 11 days 10 Nights Tohoku in Autumn

I'm incredibly late with this post but if anyone is planning a trip to explore the northern tip of the main island in Japan, they might want to read this and take a page from my book. In this blog post, I will list the itinerary and share my selected transportation for a 10d9n solo trip. This trip focuses mainly on pursuing scenic autumn foliage.

Jul 22, 2017

Hokkaido Spring Day 4: Nakajima & Maruyama Park, Mt Moiwa Ropeway

I wasn’t quite sure what to do on my fourth day in Hokkaido so I decided to focus on my main theme for this trip – Cherry Blossoms. I sought the advice of the staffs at my hostel (The Stay Sapporo) and decided to get myself to the local parks first.


I crossed some gorgeous red poppies frowing by the sidewalk along the way. Aren’t they amazing?

New folder

Jun 30, 2017

Hokkaido Spring Day 3: Noboribetsu

It was the last working day for my Hokkaido Rail Pass and it was perfect to offset my JR Super Express Train Hokuto to Norboribetsu. A one way trip on this train from Sapporo to Noboribetsu will set you back at 4480 yen (roughly 72 minutes) so if you ever intend to make long distance day trips like these, plan them according to your Rail Pass availability.


Jun 19, 2017

Hokkaido Spring Day 2: Hakodate Morning Market + Onuma Park

Rise and shine at 6:30! I wasn't planning on waking till 7am but it was so bright I found it hard to continue sleeping. After taking a shower, I packed up and checked out of my hostel. I found myself at Goryokaku Koen again by 8:18 am because I just couldn't get enough of these Somei Yoshino!


I wandered aimlessly like the hopeless dreamer I am, soaking in every bit of the Sakura rays. Let my photographs show you the beauty I saw.

Jun 4, 2017

Hokkaido Spring Day 1: Hakodate, Goryokaku Park & Mt. Hakodate

I took a red eye flight with a layover in Kuala Lumpur on my first ever trip to Hokkaido. I had bought the tickets only 3 weeks before the trip so AirAsia’s tickets were the only ones I could get that didn’t break my bank. My return tickets cost me SGD$628.50


My flight was scheduled to fly at 8:45 pm and it was a whirlwind of a busy day! Thank God I managed to get everything together in time! After finishing all my morning and afternoon appointments, I rushed home and took the MRT to the airport because what do you think? because I’m cheap! I checked myself in with AirAsia's check-in booth to avoid having my bag weighed. I hadn’t bought any baggage space for the trip over (Cheap alert!) but I think I might have accidentally crossed the 7kg limit by one of two kilos, oops=X. I had grand visions of leisurely whizzing through the departure gates with just the booth printed boarding pass but verification of travel documents was required for entry into Japan so I was sent back to the counters to have my passport checked.

Had a brief layover at KLIA. Maybe it's the fact that I'm flying a Budget airline this time but man, the boarding gate between my flights were so far away! I also had to go through the x-ray machines twice even though it was a transfer. The last time I flew with Malaysia Airline to Osaka, I didn't have to do any of that. Was it just a difference in airline or are they stepping up security after that fiasco?

Mar 11, 2016

10 tips to travelling Japan for Cheap!

I marvelled my friends when I told them I travelled Japan for 15 days, covered 5 cities, 1 distant village and spent a grand total of just SGD $1730, all inclusive! I kinda cheated a little by spending 6 nights at 2 friend’s place. But given my spending record, even with 6 additional days of accommodation, I doubt I would burst SGD $2000.

And take note that within those 15 days, I did not starve. There were even days that I even splurged on restaurants (Korean Barbeque and Japanese Sukiyaki, yums!) and presents for my family and friends back home. So I'm here to share a few tips on how to travel Japan for cheap.


Nov 9, 2015

Getting Data Sim in Kansai

So I visited Japan for the Cherry blossoms earlier this year. While I was there, i bought so-net’s Prepaid LTE Data Sim card. Unlike b-mobile which needs to be pre-ordered and shipped to the airport, so-net’s prepaid data sim are sold either via a vending machine or a shop inside the Airport. Which is of course, extremely useful for people who decide to splurge on a data sim card in the last minute. Not to mention the data plans are the cheapest by far.


Official website:




May 14, 2015

Review: Dolphin House Osaka Hostel (Japan)

When I impromptu-ly decided to fly to Japan for the sakuras (Cherry Blossoms), the first obstacle I faced was the unbelievable lack of accommodation during the last weekend of March to the 1st week of April. Hotels and hostels everywhere were sold out! God must have taken pity on me as I somehow chanced upon this little place in Osaka.
Here is my review of the Dolphin House Osaka .
Hotel Name: Dolphin House Osaka
Address: 577-0801 Osaka Prefecture, Higashi-osaka, Mikuriyaminami 2-1-38-A802, Japan
Contact: +81(0)80-9554-5580
Price: SGD16 - SGD20 (Price varies)


May 3, 2015

Cherry Blossoms @ Gion, Kyoto

Gion is a historical area in Kyoto that IMHO, serves as one of the most iconic representative of Japanese culture.


“ Gion (祇園?, ぎおん[note 1]) is a district of Kyoto, Japan, originally developed in the Middle Ages, in front of Yasaka Shrine. The district was built to accommodate the needs of travellers and visitors to the shrine. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan.”

Source: Wikipedia




Gion is famous for it’s large amount of traditional wooden houses (Machiya) which so embodies the image of traditional Japanese architecture. Gion has evolved into a highly prosperous district that is filled with restaurants, shops and Teahouses. Most notably, is the Hanami-Koiji street where there is the highest concentration of Ochaya (teahouses) and where the Geishas receives and entertain guests.


“ The most popular area of Gion is Hanami-koji Street from Shijo Avenue to Kenninji Temple. A nice (and expensive) place to dine, the street and its side alleys are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, serving Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) and other types of local and international meals.

Interspersed among the restaurants are a number of ochaya (teahouses), the most exclusive and expensive of Kyoto's dining establishments, where guests are entertained by maiko and geiko.”


Apr 26, 2015

Cherry Blossoms @ Kema Sakuranomiya Park

“ Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a riverside park boasting water, greenery and cherry trees, which is built on the river terrace between Kema Araizeki (overflow weir) and Temmabashi Bridge. Incorporating classical buildings such as the Mint, Water Square and walking trails, the park is a good place for strolling and jogging. It is known as a cherry blossom-viewing spot for its magnificent 4,700 cherry trees. “


After my failed attempt to dine in the Sailor Moon Cafe in Nakatsu, i took a train down to Sakuranomiya Park. At that point my spirit was pretty down and my hunger was not making myself any better. But with time ticking by I decided not to waste any time lunching in a restaurant but instead aim to have a picnic in the company of the cherry blossom trees.


So onwards I go!




ADDRESS :〒530-0025 Area including 1-chome, Nakano-cho, Miyakojima-ku, Osaka City
TRANSPORTATION : Short walk from Temmabashi Sta. on the Subway Tanimachi Line or the Keihan Line, Osakajo-Kitazume Sta. on the JR Tozai Line, or Sakuranomiya Sta. on the Osaka Loop Line


I alighted at the small JR Sakuranomiya train station and pondered about how to go to the park. Unfortunately,  the locality map was more confusing than anything. I eventually decided to try my luck by picking an exit and going that direction. I exited from East Exit 1.

Apr 21, 2015

Cherry Blossoms @ Kita-Ku, Osaka (Seeking SailorMoon Cafe!)

On the 3rd day of my Kansai trip, I decided to stay within Osaka city and for the first part of my day I decided to lounge in the Sailor Moon Cafe called Cafe Talismen.  I arrived at Hankyu Nakatsu Station (中津駅 Nakatsu-eki?) on the Hankyu Railway around noon and tried to navigate myself with GPS.




Nakatsu Station (中津駅 Nakatsu-eki?) is a railway station in Osaka on the Hankyu Kobe Line and the Hankyu Takarazuka Line, and is operated by Hankyu Railway. There is another train station with the same name nearby but they are not linked. Nakatsu is within Kita-Ku (北区 Kita-ku?), which is one of 24 wards of Osaka, Japan. This particular area is 1 train station away from Umeda and is primarily a housing estate area.


“ Kita-ku, particularly the Umeda area surrounding Osaka Station, is one of the main commercial centers of Osaka. Kita-ku is also a financial administration center, housing the headquarters of the Japan Mint and the Osaka branch of the Bank of Japan. “


Apr 11, 2015

Cherry Blossoms @ Wakayama, Japan 2015

I went to Wakayama on the very first day of my spring Kansai 2015 trip. I hadn't thought nor researched much about Wakayama prior. The idea of going beyond Kyoto and Osaka only struck me while i waited for my flight to depart Changi Airport. Talk about YOLO LOL.




“Wakayama Prefecture (和歌山県 Wakayama-ken?) is a prefecture of Japan located on the Kii Peninsula in the Kansai region on Honshū island.[1] The capital is the city of Wakayama”


Mar 13, 2015

Getting picked up in Osaka & nearly missing the last train. Adventures in Osaka Castle & Dotonburi !

29th October 2013, my 3rd day in Kyoto! This is the day I conquer Osaka! Well, not really. The day didn’t go super well but I had quite an adventure as after 4 trips to Japan, I finally encountered the weird, perverse and shady side of Japan. Will talk more about it at the bottom!
After getting around the Kyoto for the last 1 and a half day, I've started to get the hang of the things. With thanks to one of the staff from Ayado Gion, I found out that it is actually cheaper for me to take a Railway Train to Osaka instead of taking a Bus to Kyoto JR station and then take the train to Osaka. 

Jan 8, 2015

First experience at a Japanese Public Bath (Kyoto)

As most of you might know, I went to Japan for a short holiday (last last year. This is a VERY delayed post). In the last week of my CoFesta trip I went to Kyoto and stayed at Hostel Mundo. Nearby the hostel was a public bath which the owner of the hostel highly recommended. According to her, Choja-Yu (长者汤) is the second oldest public bath in Kyoto.

Address: 上長者町通松屋町西入須浜東町, 450上京区 , 京都府Japan
Tel: +81 75 441 1223 
According to Midori-san (Hostel Mundo’s Owner) , Choja-Yu Public bath operates till 12:00 midnight. But when i was there the public bath signage seems to say that it closes at 11:30 even though I did stayed till 11:45 pm =X.

Jan 5, 2015

Autumn Kyoto day 7 (Kinkakuji & Nijo Castle)

The 28th October 2013 marks the 7th day of my extended CoFesta Ambassador trip in Japan last autumn. I was invited as an Ambassador for CoFesta in recognition of my continuous work of sharing Japanese related content online. I extended the trip and made it into a 12 days trip from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto.


- Read about my CoFesta related travel trips here (Click!)

- Read about my Japan related travel blogs & tips here (Click!)





So yes, that Monday morning marked my first morning in Kyoto! I’ve been dreaming of a Kyoto flooded red with maple leaves ever since reading the grotesque and romanticised descriptions in Yami no Matsuei.  After a tedious and anxious day of rushing for my Shinkansen and lugging my luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto the day before, I woke up at 10am haha. By the time I got out of the Hostel it was already 12:30pm hahaha. This is why I like travelling solo; I sleep and rise according to my own wishes. 

Jun 24, 2014

Review: Smile Hotel Tokyo Asagaya Hotel ( Tokyo, Japan)

I stayed in Smile Asagaya Hotel during my Spring Tokyo trip and had a very good experience there.


Nearest Station: 1 min walk from Asagaya station
Address: 3-37-11, Asagaya-minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo 166-0004, Japan
Contact : TEL:03-3220-8755/ FAX:03-3220-8766







I stayed alone in their single room for 4 nights. As that was the only room type I had access to, my review will solely focus on that.


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The rooms are really small and only absolutely necessary walking space is allocated. However, being in space constrained Tokyo, that is something to be expected.  I am a petite Asian girl and I find the space comfortable enough for a single adult. However friends of heavier volume might find it difficult to manoeuvre around. 


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The room includes the basic amenities such as

  • A small fridge
  • Cup and water boiler
  • 1 Complimentary green tea sachet that is refilled everyday
  • Telephone (I did not try calling out)
  • Television with remote control
  • Air conditioner / heater
  • Small 1 door cabinet with 2 hangers
  • A bathing robe/nightgown
  • Towel
  • Disposable slippers
  • Air freshener spray
  • Comforter
  • Single bed with 1 pillow and blanket
  • A wooden chair
  • Toilet
  • Shower and bathtub
  • Complimentary shower soap, shampoo and conditioner. 
  • Complimentary vanity pack (shower sponge, comb, toothbrush & toothpaste)


In front of level 2's lift is a metal rack with pillows that hotel guests can freely take to their room. Staying in level 2 itself meant I quickly grabbed a buckwheat pillow for myself the first day I checked in :D .




The bed was a simple mattress with pillow and thick blanket but man, it was SO COMFORTABLE!


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The mattress was soft but not too soft and was at the right density for both comfort and good spinal support. The buckwheat pillow also gave the sleeping experience additional points as not only does it smell heavenly, it also felt very good on my neck.

I tend to feel anaemia easily so I always have to sleep with a high enough pillow. If I don't,  I wake up with massive headache. I might have to say the bed and pillow is probably the best of all hotels/hostels I've tried, beating even 5 star hotels.

There is additional comforter in the top cabinet.




The toilet is tiny and feels a little cramped even for someone as small as me. However the basic amenities are in place.


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There are hot and cold water for shower and  at the wash basin. Complimentary vanity items such as toothbrush, tooth paste, shower sponge and comb are provided. 


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Much like most of Tokyo, the hotel also provides automated toilet bowls.




Everything looks clean and new. Nothing to jump about ;)



Absolutely in love with the location! The nearest JR station is JR Asagaya Station. And any hotels near a JR station is good for tourists!




On first look, Asagaya looked like an unfamiliar place for a tourist to stay in. But it is actually only 5 JR Train stations away from Shinjuku.

The hotel is a comfortable walking distance (5 minutes walk) from JR Asagaya train station and the area is a bustling little suburb by itself. Being an area where local Japanese reside in, the area is filled with restaurants, cafes, super markets, grocery shops and drug stores. Things there are generally more affordable too.




I bought most of my souvenirs from budget stores or candy stores around Asagaya (Alert: cheapskate! LOL) . I bought a lot of Japanese chocolates back as souvenirs for my family and friends xD




The counter service is available 24hours a day, which is good of course.  The hotel requires all guest to leave their room keys at the counter before going out. When they return, the Hotel guests will pick up their room key by telling the staff their room number.

To be honest I find this arrangement highly insecure. No form of identification was required to pick up the keys. What if some stalker decides to try something funny?




The hotel staffs I came in contact with were all very helpful and friendly.  Deep conversations in English would be difficult but simple directions and usual travelling questions would not be a  problem there.

One of the staffs even kindly printed out a train map and wrote down travel instructions for me!  Highly impressed and touched ;)



Overall, I must say I am very pleasantly surprised by the hotel. Other than the ‘key pickup’ part which made me felt a little insecure, I really enjoyed my stay with them.

The hotel has relatively new furniture, is clean, well maintained , reasonably priced and well located. I honestly cannot ask for more!

May 31, 2014

Autumn Japan Day 6 : Kabukicho + Izakaya & overnight KTV

On the 6th day of my Autumn 2013 Japan trip, I went to the Square Enix cafe with Amanda!




She graciously allowed me to bunk over at her place when I was in Tokyo T_T. Helped me out a lot!

Apr 27, 2014

Acquiring a Data SIM card in Japan

So I asked on Facebook and it seemed like you guys would like to know how to get data service on mobile (for mobile surfing, Facebook, twitter, Skype etc) in Japan. 


Apr 21, 2014

Autumn Japan Day 5: Meiji Shrine, Akihabara & Monjayakki!

Day 5 of my trip marks the end of my itinerary with CoFesta as a CoFesta Ambassador. That means I'm on my own ! Had to check out by 11 am so I spent a lot of time packing the night before x.x

I was invited to Japan last October as one of CoFesta's overseas Influencer Ambassador due to my continuous work on the Social Media in promoting Japanese related content. I extended my trip for 9 more days and it totalled to 13 days and 12 nights trip in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

Decided to brew myself a cup of Japanese coffee!

Mar 25, 2014

Budget Japan: Introduction, Flight & JR Pass

I was invited to Japan last October as one of CoFesta's oversea Influencer Ambassador due to my continuous work on the Social Media in promoting Japanese related content. I extended my trip for 9 more days and it totalled to 13 days and 12 nights trip in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.  I spent a grand total of SGD$2186 on this trip and that includes airfare, JR Pass, accommodations for my extended 9 nights and everything else.




In these on-going blog post about my Japan Trip, I will attempt to share all my spending and experience with you guys because I believe a trip to Japan doesn't have to break the bank! To start off, let me tell you where most of my money went to. $740 went to a return ticket with JAL airline and $380 went to getting a 7 days JR Pass.

Our day tour at NHK Studio Park with the awesome NHK Staffs. Read here



I screwed up and missed my sponsored flight and ended up buying my own tickets on the morning itself. It was a miserable experience and I implore all of you to make sure you check the closing time for your flight's check-in. If there's anything I learnt from this experience, other than reaching the airport earlier, was to buy a return trip instead of a single trip in such situations.


If you have the unfortunate luck of being in the same situation as I was, make sure you ask the staff at the counter for the price quote of BOTH the return and single plane tickets. And you ask me why? That's because surprisingly, return tickets are usually a lot cheaper. The staff at JAL had the wisdom to highlight this to me in my grief (lol) and even wrote the price comparison down on paper to let me make the decision.

Single ticket to Tokyo: $1000+
Return tickets to Tokyo & Back: $740


SERIOUSLY, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU PURCHASE?!! Even if I had no intention of returning, darn I'd still get the return tickets and skip the return flight back. We're talking about over $300 of savings!


If I had bought my tickets earlier, I'm sure I could get a much better deal and slash my spending a further $200 more. So my tip is to plan in advance. And be at the airport early -_-;


Japan Rail PASS:

Before I went to Japan, I had planned and arranged my itinerary semi-meticulously. I said semi because I only arranged the rough flow and left the itsy bitsy parts like places-to-visit till I was there. Normally I would prefer a more meticulous plannign but this time I was lazy and decided to go with the flow when I'm in Japan. Afterall, that's the perks of traveling alone isn't it?



I bought my JR Pass at the Japan Tourism Board (JTB Pte Ltd, ION Orchard) in Singapore. They are located at at ION Orchard. Full address below.

Japan Tourism Board (JTB Pte Ltd, ION Orchard)

2 Orchard Turn, #B4-29, ION Orchard, Singapore 238801

Tel: 6595-0600

For a full list of authorised agents to purchase JR Pass in Singapore, click here.

Online website to order JR Pass: &

JR maps: &


The JR Pass thingy can be pretty confusing and overwhelming in the beginning so I'll try to explain as clearly as I can. The JR Pass is a special tourist pass that allows you to travel on all trains owned by Japan Railway Company ( train lines that says JR Line LOL). The packages are roughly divided into 2 category ( Green & Standard) and further divided into different duration and price.



The JR Pass package is also categorised by directions; directions that the trains you buy can go to. They are categorised into Nationwide, West, East, Hokkaido. Kyushu and All Shikoku Pass For more information about those, click here. I wasn’t able to find any JR Websites that directly talks about the different regional JR Pass so I’m sorry I can’t give more information about that.


The Green category are for use with the "Green trains". In short, they are the more expensive and luxurious trains hence the significantly higher cost. The Standard category is well, for ordinary cars and folks like us. I took the standard category because I am oh-so-ordinary. The Duration columns are the slightly tricky part. They come in 7, 14 and 21 days package and the longer days directly reflects in the price tag.


One thing good about this package is that the duration doesn't start until you get it to. Which is awesome for my trip as I intended to spend 6 days in Tokyo and only leave for Kyoto on the 7th day which is the day I'll have my JR Pass activated. After that, I get 7 days on my JR pass which will then last me right up till the day I fly back to Singapore.



The validity date is printed onto the JR Pass. This is the actual pass you will use to show the staffs at the train stations, this is your ticket!


If you intend to get a JR Pass, planning is CRUCIAL as it affects the overall structure of your itinerary. Getting your JR Pass activated at Japan's train stations requires a whole blog entry by itself so I shall not delve into it now. I believe I bought the Ordinary , Adult, 7-days , National JR Pass for $380. ( seems to sell it a lot cheaper -__-; )


I summarised all the main points below:

  1. 1) JR Pass can ONLY be purchased outside of Japan for tourists abroad for sight-seeing, under the entry status of “Temporary Visitor”. If you want to get it, BUY IT BEFORE entering japan.
  2. 2) Buy JR Pass only if you intend to cross states(Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka etc) more than once
  3. 3) Do not buy JR Pass if you only intend to travel within Tokyo
  4. 4) You can ride on all Shinkansen except the fastest 'NOZOMI' train
  5. 5) Try to reserve a seat for your shinkansen beforehand at the Ticket exchange counter (the place where you exchange for your JR Pass). It is a lot of hassle and embarrassment if you arrive at the next stop and realise you're sitting on someone else's seat.
  6. 6) NEX (Narita Expression, a train that goes from Tokyo striaght to Narita Airport) has power sockets so bring your cables & adaptors (
  7. 7) If you are buying the JR Pass physically at a shop, ask the staff tonnes of questions to make sure you are getting the best suited plan. Share your itinerary and intentions with them.
  8. 8) Bring your passport along when you intend to use the JR Pass,  sometimes they will check. Especially Shinkansens.


More links related to JR Pass:


Hope you guys found this entry useful! I’m so sleepy now zzzz