Growing up, Japan was always on my side. There were anime shows dubbed in Filipino to keep me entertained after school. Before the K-Pop bands invaded the airwaves, there was J-Pop. I could still belt out the lyrics of Sweet Soul Revue and Feel Like Dance flawlessly. To tell you the truth, Japan was never part of my 'countries to visit this 2016' list. I was planning to go there two to three years from now but I scored a cheap fare earlier this year.
For four days, we explored Tokyo and the neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture. Japan did not fail to mesmerize me. Everything is organized and every corner of the city is very clean. Now I know why Japan is one of the most sought destinations in the world.
No Visa, No Entry
Unlike our neighbors in Southeast Asia who only require a valid Philippine passport, Japan requires Filipinos to have a valid visa before entering their territory. Don't get intimidated by their requirements, though! As long as you have enough show money on your bank account and submit all of the required documents, they'll approve it. Check out this link on how to successfully obtain a tourist visa in Japan.
|Statue of Liberty at Odaiba, Tokyo|
|Diver City! Gundam!|
What I really love about this country are the locals. They are never grumpy and they are always courteous, regardless if you're a foreigner or not. When you enter a restaurant or a shop, the staff members will greet you enthusiastically. On our second day, we got a bit lost and we tried asking one of the locals. Despite the language barrier, he tried his best to give the right directions. I doubt I'd be given the same treatment if I were in a different country.
|Lake Achi, Hakone|
The Japanese capital is a huge city and the best way to navigate around is through their train system. Honestly, when I first saw their intricate train system, I got overwhelmed. There are so many lines, the names of the stations are hard to memorize, and most of them overlap each other. The mass transportation system of Tokyo is so big that you'll get eaten up by the system if you don't know how to read a map or if you don't have a sense of direction. To make our lives easier, we rented a pocket wi-fi back home for only Php 490/day. The pocket wi-fi was truly a lifesaver on this trip. Apps such as Tokyo Subway are available on smartphones, and you can download it for free. The app allows you to navigate around Tokyo the easiest way. It also displays the exact fare price, the duration of the trip, and the ETA (Exact Time of Arrival lol) of the next train.
I Shall Return
Four days weren't enough to explore Tokyo and its neighboring towns and provinces. For me, Japan is not a once in a lifetime destination. It is so culturally diverse that there are so many places to discover and things to experience. I'd love to visit Japan again and explore Kansai Prefecture (Osaka and Kyoto) for the best autumn experience and Hokkaido for the winter festival.
I am glad that I had the chance to explore Japan this year! Domo arigato guzaymas, Japan! We'll see each other again real soon!