Yes patients!!!! I just got back from Japan!!! Woohoooo B.E.S.T vacation ever!!!
So after almost a year preparing for this trip, I finally arrived in Japan in late March. After all these years being a manga and anime addict, I finally experience it myself.
Okay, I'll share a bit about my Japan vacation, I hope it'll be usefull to u guys.
Things to prepare:
1. Plane tickets
Since this is Cherry Blossom season, everything is more expensive. I bought the ticket of Economy Class Malaysia Airlines almost a year ago and it cost me 7.5 Million IDR. First flight from Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta at 4.30 A.M, transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for 2 hours then a 5.5 hours flight to Tokyo's Narita Airport. I hate long flights so I decided not to buy low cost airlines, hoping the flight to be more comfortable. Well, it's good... In flight entertainment was not bad, food was borderline horrible but the free flow juice and red wine helped a bit :p
I took care of the visa on my own, cost me around 300K IDR and voila, in 4 working days the visa is done. Not a hassle at all, just go the Japan Embassy website and follow the instructions there. Bring all the documents, wait in line and give all the documents the officers there. You will be given the receipt to take the visa after 4 working days. The visa was for 15 days.
I stayed for 8 nights, 3 nights in Tokyo, 3 nights in Osaka and 2 nights in Tokyo again. For the first 3 nights I stayed at Hotel Yanagibashi using booking.com Then for Osaka I use Air BnB for an apartmen and the last 2 night I also use Air BnB. I would like to recommend both the Air BnB apartements. Those apartments might be small (the hotel is small too) but both was clean, neat and comfy. The hosts was very informative and helpfull, love em both.
If you are planning to travel to many cities, I would recommend getting a JR Pass. JR Pass is a magic card for foreign tourist, by which u can take a ride in every Japan Rail Trains and buses, and that includes the shinkansen. As we know the shinkansen ticket price is quite expensive but using the JR Pass, you just need to show your pass and take a ride. I bought my JR Pass at HIS Travel Jakarta and it costs around 3.5 Million IDR for 7 days pass. The JR Pass also includes the Narita Express (an express train bound to Tokyo from Narita Airport that costs around 400K IDR one way). I use the JR Pass to travel between Tokyo-Osaka, Osaka-Himeji and Osaka-Kyoto. Aside from those long trips, I also use the JR Pass to travel with the local trains whenever possible.
Now for the subway... Go get yourself an IC Card. IC Card is like Flazz or E-Money in Indonesia. It can be used for payments in mini marts and more importantly the subway or trains. Spare yourself from buying subway tickets from machines and just tap the IC card at the gates (just like in Transjakarta or Commuter Line) Don't worry, the machine to buy the IC Card is conviniently located in front of every station (subway or trains). Just go the machine and find the "english" button. The menu is quite easy to understand.
5. Food and drinks
Japan is very liveable I might say. There are literally mini marts everywhere. U can get drinks and food (and the food are yummmm), umbrellas and even shirts there! There are also many many vending machine in every corner of the street.
Now my tips on surviving in Japan
1. Google before going
Preparation is everything in a holiday, especially for first timers. Japan is a very big place and has MANY place to visit. Take some time and thoroughly plan your itinerary (I'll share mine in the next post) Take notes on where to go and the station located closest to it.
2. Download Hyperdia or open Hyperdia.Com
Hyperdia is a magical app that shows which train/transportation to take based on the stations. For example: You are now at Tokyo Station and wanting to go to Meiji Jingu Shrine. First, find the info which station is closest to Meiji Jingu Shrine (It's the Meiji-Jingumae Station). Now input the two stations to hyperdia and it will show you which train to take, the time needed, the time schedule, the tracks of the train, the transit needed and whether walking outside the station is needed. Don't be a smartass and try to look at the network map, believe in Hyperdia.
3. Bring bags or backpacks.
I know this seems useless but believe me, when you walk that much, having a backpack to carry drinks, snacks and jackets or your shopping items is a lifesaver.
4. Be adventurous
Japan is an ultra modern city with many hidden gems. Walk the alleys, go around the park, take a stroll along the river, go the shopping malls. Experience it all
5. Don't bring big luggage
Bring only essentials. Every place to stay provides towels and bath ammenities. AND it is Japan so it's not some cheap soaps, they provide more than decent bath ammenities. Travel light since I'm sure you'll shop a lot and carrying heavy luggage across the train stations is not fun.
6. Save up memory space
Bring extra memory card if you have to since it's so beautiful in Japan. The crowd, the neighbourhood, the food and even the hustling fish market is oh so instagenic!!
7. Prepare to burn your money there
Japan is not cheap but it is not crazy expensive too. Compared to Jakarta, of course Jakarta is way cheaper. BUT in terms of food, a meal for one cost around 500-1000 JPY per person, that's 120K IDR, not that expensive right? Eating in a decent restaurant in Jakarta cost more or less 100K IDR nowadays. The only difference is 200K IDR in Jakarta gets you those fancy/hip restaurant in malls but in Japan 120K IDR/1000 JPY get you a nice meal in an ordinary izakaya/ramen restaurant. BUT the food quality is the same or even better than those fancy cafe in Jakarta. Splurge a bit, try Japan's fancier place, try the heavenly yummy desserts, the fresh seafood and all the cute snacks there. TRY THEM ALL!!!!!!!!
Okay, I already rambled a lot, will be continued to the next post :) See yaaaa