How to Plan a Trip to Japan: A Guide for Filipino Otaku, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

In the previous section, we talked about how to get a tourist visa. This time around, we’ll delve into the logistical nightmares of the trip: transport and accommodations.

How to Plan a Trip to Japan: A Guide for Filipino Otaku, Part 2: Booking Transportation and Accommodations

Part 2: Booking Transportation and Accommodations

Despite what some people will tell you, getting a ticket or a hotel room before you apply for a visa is not a guarantee of getting your application approved, so it’s much better to purchase everything after you have secured your visa. This is what we did in our case, which was why we all ended up in the same flights and accommodations in Japan.

Booking Airline Tickets

Three of Japan’s largest cities have direct flights to and from Manila and Cebu: Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. There are also plenty of options for flights, from the always impressive Japan Airlines to the cheap and cheerful Cebu Pacific Air.

In our case, we selected Japanese airline All Nippon Airways for three very good reasons: 1) they are the most affordable airline that flies directly to Tokyo (only Cebu Pacific Air is cheaper, and their flights only land in Osaka); 2) they depart from NAIA Terminal 3 (new!) and arrive at Narita Terminal 1 (accessible!); and 3) they offer a whopping 46KG checked luggage allowance per person (a maximum of two pieces at 23KG each).

To secure tickets, we simply surfed to their official website and looked for flights that both fit our schedules and our budgets. A rule of thumb with ANA is to book as early as possible, as their low-priced seats are limited and you might end up with pricier regular-fare tickets.

Booking Hotel Rooms

After airline tickets, the next thing we had to secure were hotel rooms. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to find cheap hotel rooms in Tokyo as long as you keep your expectations reasonable. Yes — they are still pricey, especially if you are used to prices in Manila or Bangkok; however if you scale your budget to Singapore or Sydney then you’ll be able to find something you can work with.

In our case, we narrowed out options to two hotels: The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo in Shinagawa, and Sakura Hotel in Ikebukuro. The Prince was one option because they had a four-person family room that could easily fit six (I stayed in that room by myself and it was huge — larger than most Tokyo apartments!), while Sakura Hotel was picked because they had affordable four-person rooms with tatami flooring (a plus in our books!).

In the end, we stayed at Sakura Hotel not just because their rooms were cheap (we stayed at their four-bunk hostel room since the tatami room was booked), but because they were in Ikebukuro — which put them in walking distance to Otome Road >:D

If I could share just one money-saving tip when picking your hotel in Tokyo, it’s this: try to find a hotel close to the place you will be visiting most. It could be Akihabara if you want to go toy shopping, or Shibuya if want to shop your fashionista heart out. The important this is it has to be walking distance to your favorite haunts, so you can save money from train rides since the minimum fare is JPY 130 or PhP 65.

Booking a Japan Rail Pass

The last thing we booked were our Japan Rail Passes. For the uninitiated, JR Passes allow you to travel on all Japan Rail lines unlimited — including Shinkansen or bullet trains, for a set number of days. Passes are sold as 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day blocks of unlimited travel time.

You can only purchase JR Passes outside of Japan, so make sure you buy them before you leave for Tokyo. The best place to get a JR Pass locally is from Attic Tours along Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. The cheapest pass is the 7-day ordinary pass at JPY 28,300 or PhP 14,500.

Since we were swinging by Osaka and Kyoto for three days, we decided to purchase a 7-day pass that would take us west and back up to Tokyo. One of our travel companions Nina was using her pass to work her way up to Hokkaido in the northern tip of Japan — literally traveling for free since her pass was paid for on the Tokyo leg alone.

Although the JR Pass seems pricey (you can actually go on holiday to Vietnam or Cambodia on the price of the pass alone), it is really great value for money since a one-way bullet train ticket costs JPY 10,000. For the price of a round-trip ticket, you can travel from city to city to city with the JR Pass; it’s a great travel bargain!

Concluded in Part 3.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. minamic says:

    Mami Rotch, just clarifying, if you get the JR Pass, within Tokyo you can only use it on the Yamanote line? Are the other subway lines also part of Japan Rail?

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    1. You can use it on any JR line not just the Yamanote. Subways are not covered unfortunately as they are owned by other companies.

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  2. Nina says:

    I got more than Php 50,000 value on the trains on my Php23,000 pass ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Freaking osm value for money whichever way you look at it!

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  3. Diego says:

    Here’s a question from a fellow Japan addict: ever tried applying for a multiple-entry visa? I haven’t had a lot of trouble getting the usual 15-day single-entry sticker (been there three times with nary a hitch), but with airline tickets going for a song these days, I’ve found myself sorely tempted to hop between here and there more than once in a year. Naturally, applying for a visa each time can be a bit troublesome (and the agency fees can add up quickly).

    Judging from what I’ve read on the embassy website, multiple-entries are normally given only to businessmen and celebrities (and there’s not much of a chance I can become either of those anytime soon!). Any idea if they’ve ever granted them for ordinary tourists? I know they’ve started offering them to Thais and Malaysians (just this year if I remember correctly) but I haven’t heard anything about our corner of the world.

    On the other hand, have you had any trouble getting a normal single-entry visa more than once in a given year? I might have to go that route if I can’t get a multiple-entry visa, though I’m concerned they might suspect me for a drug runner or something (“why does this chap keep coming back to Japan? mm, must have sinister reasons…”).

    Well, so much for that, and sorry for the long comment. All the best!

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    1. I’ve tried applying for a multiple-entry visa under the auspices of my previous company, but even if we were a large company in the US, because our Philippine office was not in the top 100 companies in the Phisix Stock Exchange, my application was declined and downgraded to a regular single entry visa (which was granted).

      So, short of being a top executive at a Fortune 500 company, and/or a famous artist (a legitimate artist like theatre or dance, not just some masa-movie celebrity), there’s pretty much zero chance of scoring a multiple entry visa.

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  4. aleneya says:

    “Despite what some people will tell you, getting a ticket or a hotel room before you apply for a visa is not a guarantee of getting your application approved, so itโ€™s much better to purchase everything after you have secured your visa.”

    does this also apply to first time travelers??

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  5. aleneya says:

    does that mean it is alright for us to apply for a visa first before buying airplane tickets although this will be our first time to travel abroad especially in Japan??and not get declined by the embassy??

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