Mar 11, 2016
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
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: http://www.so-net.ne.jp/prepaid/en/index.html
May 14, 2015
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
Price: SGD16 - SGD20 (Price varies)
May 3, 2015
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.”
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.
Apr 26, 2015
“ 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
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
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. 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 !
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
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
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.
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
I stayed in Smile Asagaya Hotel during my Spring Tokyo trip and had a very good experience there.
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.
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.
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
- Disposable slippers
- Air freshener spray
- Single bed with 1 pillow and blanket
- A wooden chair
- 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!
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.
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.
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
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
Apr 21, 2014
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
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.
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
For a full list of authorised agents to purchase JR Pass in Singapore, click here. http://www.jnto.org.sg/japan_rail_pass_singapore.html
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. (Japan-rail-pass.com seems to sell it a lot cheaper -__-; )
I summarised all the main points below:
- 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) Buy JR Pass only if you intend to cross states(Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka etc) more than once
- 3) Do not buy JR Pass if you only intend to travel within Tokyo
- 4) You can ride on all Shinkansen except the fastest 'NOZOMI' train
- 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) NEX (Narita Expression, a train that goes from Tokyo striaght to Narita Airport) has power sockets so bring your cables & adaptors ( https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=590378644332796&set=a.291151434255520.62428.139368942767104&type=3&theater)
- 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) 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
Feb 12, 2014
This was my 3rd time to Japan and 2nd time to Shibuya 109. I can't remember if I blogged about it previously (found out I did!) but I decided this time I would lol. Our CoFesta ambassador trip was actually pretty tight and the Shibuya trip was just a side quest kindly included by our guide lol.
Also because NHK Studio Park was walking distance to Shibuya hahah. Yamamote-san guided us there by foot and it was a very interesting experience. Even though I've had Singaporean friends who live in Japan brought me around before, it was still a novel experience to walk from one seemingly isolated place to another hippy area.
Feb 10, 2014
So I'm going to share everything I know about the Kyoto Bus systems with you guys, hopefully this is helpful to someone!
Why take the Bus? :Compared to Tokyo, moving around is a very different ball game in Kyoto. In Kyoto, it's all about the buses and you can reach pretty much any attractions with the buses. For in-depth explanation about transporting in Kyoto, you can go to Kyoto City's website.
I'm going to briefly explain the bus system in Kyoto and then explain how to use the Kyoto City Bus Map. I will also share some hands-on tips not found in other tourism website .
Feb 6, 2014
Name: Hostel Mundo
Address: 596 Tenbin-cho Shimodachiuri agaru Higurasidori Kamigyo-ward, Kyoto city, Japan 602-8105
Tel: +81 75-811-6161
Nearest Bus stop: Horikawa shimodatiuri (Take Bus number 9 or 50 from JR Kyoto Karasuma-chuo-guchi Bus bay B1 or B2 )
Nearest Railway: JR Kyoto Stn or JR Enmachi Stn
Nearest Attraction: Pretty close to Arashiyama
Price/night : varies according to date & room type (1667 Yen – 3500Yen)
They offer 4 beds dormitory and Private rooms of various sizes. None of them have toilets attached and all the rooms have tatami mat.
Check out their website for more details.
For my stay, I stayed at the only single private room and really liked it. Most of the room is tatami mat flooring with some wooden flooring. Your bed is a Japanese mattress (futon) you have to lay down yourself before you sleep.
The room has an electronic fan and an air conditioner that functions as both a cooler and a heater. There is a small wooden table, a foldable chair with no legs and a table lamp. There are 2 electrical outlet but no cabinet. The only thing to hang your clothes is some wall hooks.
The futon mattress was thick and comfortable and the quilts kept me toasty. But I'm picky with my pillows and found theirs a little too soft so I slept with a scarf under it.
There are around 2 toilets and a single shower room at the back of the building where all the sinks and mirrors are located. Hair dryer is available and you can bath anytime you want. One thing I quickly noticed in the chilly autumn was that there was no heater in the washing area. That made every wash up session a teeth chattering period for me.
Satisfactory and nothing for me to jump on :)
Amenities & Facilities:
Hair dryer available. The kitchen with microwave , stove and hot water is available for all guests to prepare their meal. Coffee and tea is available the whole day. Take note that Credit Cards are not accepted.
The lights out time seemed to be 11pm. I haven't tried going out of the place after lights out though so I'm not sure how things work.
No food is provided but there are 2 supermarket around (most notably Fresco that is along the main road) and you can get a lot of prepared food at pretty affordable prices.
Staff & Misc:
I stayed there for only 2 nights but very much enjoyed the coziness and Japanese setting of the place.
The staffs were friendly and Midori-San was nice enough to lend me a towel. They own a big black dog called Tidus too and he was very obedient. For the 2 nights I was there, there always seemed to have some sort of gathering at the living /common room .
Travel Directions :
Getting to the place can be a little confusing especially if you are coming after dark. From JR Kyoto train station, go to the bus interchange ( it's right outside its main entrance) , take either bus 9 or 50 from bay B1 or B2 and alight at Horikawa shimodatiuri. According to them, the journey usually takes about 24 minutes.
Your landmark for alighting is Fresco; a supermarket with red signages on your right side.
To see the above Google map, click here http://goo.gl/maps/YcSdk
Walk down the small road on the left and keep going until you spot a bicycle shop on your right . It's really hard to spot it after dark but I guess you can look out for a shop with a mirror signboard going vertically down in the middle. That's the bicycle shop. On seeing it, turn right and Hostel Mundo is the 3rd building on the right. They usually have a small red light in front of the porch.
Every night the guests would gather in the living room to chat or have a party. The vibe going on every night is fun and enjoyable, highly suitable for travelers who enjoy mingling with others. Unfortunately for me , I never managed to hang out with them because I was always busy with something in my room #foreveralone. And I could hear their joyous bustling loud and clear much to my dismay ( I'm so missing out T_T! ).
Like many of the other reviewers on hostel.com I agree that the walls are thin and does not trap sound well. Towels are not included and it was not stated but midori-San was nice enough to lend me one T. T
To be honest, the location of the hostel is not exactly the best. The nearest JR station is Enmachi and you have to take 2 bus to reach it (220yen from Horikawa Shimodachiuri to Horikawa Marutamachi then 220yen to Nishinokyo Enmachi ). Enmachi the station itself is so well hidden it took me a loooooooooong time to find it =_=; I did however, discover that Hostel Mundo sort of have a straight bus to Arashiyama!
If you stay at Hostel Mundo and intends to go to Arashiyama for a day, you can walk to Bus stop Horikawa Marutamachi (just a few streets away), take bus 93 and it would take you straight to the heart of Arashiyama (Bus stop Arashiyama Tenryuji-mae) . One important point though, Arashiyama is outside of the Kyoto City Bus One-Day Pass zone so you cannot use that. The bus ticket should be 240 yen, which is slightly more expensive but worth it for the time and effort saved. Some websites did highlight that during weekends or holidays, Bus should be avoided due to traffic jams.
The entire building is made to look traditional and authentic which is its main attraction to me. If you are traveling in a group I highly recommend the private rooms because they looked so spacious and comfortable. Toilets are not ensuite but for the price, authentic Japanese setting and space, I'd say its a good deal !
Dec 14, 2013
Name: A-yado Gion Hostel
Address: A-yado Gion, 3F Sakura bldg, 244-2, Nakano-cho, 2 chome, Shinm, Kyoto, Japan
Nearest Bus stop: Gion. Take bus 100 or 206 from JR Kyoto Karasuma-chuo-guchi bus bay D1 or D2
Nearest Railway: Keihan Gion-Shijo St
Nearest Attraction: Hanamikoji Street (this is where the Geishas work) & Yasaka Shrine
Price/night : varies according to date (1250Yen – 2500Yen)