Asia / Japan / My Travels

Japan: Waking Up to the Rising Sun

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – a famous Japanese Proverb

Japan has always been on top of my list! I’ve always wanted to visit Japan because of its rich culture and its influence to mankind. Certainly, we Filipinos had an unpleasant past with the Japs during WWII, on how they maltreated and molested our grannys hehe but “past is past”, look at us all now!? We are so fascinated with their animes and gadgets! :D

When I asked my ex-boyfriend (that time still a bf) to come with me to Japan for my birthday, he said NO.
I was devastated coz I really wanted to go to Japan that year. He said he does not have a budget for that etc etc. I want him to come with me coz our relationship at that moment was rocky. I felt that this trip will rekindle the flame in our relationship and that will be the best birthday gift for me!

Then I started to weighed things over, which is more important to me: going to Japan on my birthday with him or without him? Staying in Singapore on my birthday with him and regret that I didn’t pursue my wish to travel?
My birthday wish was, to go to Japan WITH him! I felt that that will make me happier. So I put that into action by booking tickets for the two of us! Haha! And finally he said YES! :D

It may sound silly, but I don’t regret at all coz i learnt something out of it…

IMG_3945

Noh, Japanese masks.

During this trip, we visited 4 cities, that you can read on separate blog entries, just click the following:
Nagoya, 
Osaka, 
Kyoto, 
and Tokyo.

Pay-Your-Own-Groceries-Cash-Registers

Pay-Your-Own-Groceries-Cash-Registers

Careful planning is really needed if you have limited time like us, we only have 8days in total :)
So let me share you some tips that I’ve learnt while planning this trip.

1. Book your flight 3-4 months ahead, you’ll get almost half the price than booking 1-2 months prior to your preferred flight. Cheapest flight from Singapore is S$750 (Northwest, Cathay Pacific, etc), but in my case I thought we will no longer push through this trip so I didn’t book early. When I finally realized that I really wanted to push it no matter what, it was already late. It is already August when I decided to book our flights so at that time ticket prices gone up to almost S$1200 already! So I chose to book on Singapore Airlines instead since it’s just the same rate.

Geisha

Geisha

2. Once you got your flight itinerary, if you need visa, apply your Tourist Visa at Japan Embassy. Those in Singapore are very fortunate because we don’t need any invitation from a resident in Japan and if you are a PR in Singapore, no need to submit your Bank Account Statement. If you are not PR, submit your bank account statement, just showing money that is sufficient enough to sustain your length of stay in Japan is already acceptable.

Processing is only 3 days that includes the application day (8am-12nn) and the releasing day (1pm-5pm).
Visit this site for the requirements:
http://www.sg.emb-japan.go.jp/visa_shortterm.htm

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Yen shop.

3. Plan your itinerary. Select places where you wanna go. In my case, I copy those in the Travel Agencies’ Group Tour Package, I only select those I find interesting and fun to go to. I researched on the maps and photos so I can visualize how beautiful and how far it is on our main destination (Nagoya). Ask your relatives/friends to take leave also so they could accompany you during your trip. If they can speak Nihonggo for sure and they can read Kranji, it will be easier.

But going alone is not a problem anyway. Just keep on asking, Japanese can understand English and some of them knows how to speak in English too. Better go in the Information Booths, Travel Agencies inside the Train Stations and approach people who look professionals coz chances are, they can speak English ;)

In Tokyo, it is more convenient, signs and directions are translated in English and buses and trains voice prompts are translated in English too. Tokyo is more Tourist-Friendly. But their subway train is so confusing my dear! You’ll surely get lost if you don’t analyze it well and ask for help.

Visit this website for your itinerary:
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/

Shinkansen, bullet train.

Shinkansen, Japanese bullet train.

4. If you are not staying in one place or city only, it is better for you to avail the JAPAN RAILPASS which is only available outside Japan and for tourists only. This pass depends on the length of your stay. They have 7-days, 14-days and 21-days. You can use this pass for all JR trains, Shinkansen (Bullet Trains) and JR buses, JR is owned by the government.

For us since we are staying for 7-days, we bought the 7-days pass which costs S$390, which at first I thought is so expensive, but when I asked my ex-boyfriend’s mom (who is btw based in Japan) if it’s worth it, she said it is so much cheaper so grab it! She told me that a roundtrip Shinkansen fare from Nagoya to Tokyo is already S$250! Then we are also planning to go to Osaka and Kyoto, so she said it is very economical to avail it.

Just take note that this railpass have East, West, Hokkaido, Kyushu Areas. Meaning if you will only travel in the Eastern part, buy the East Pass. But since we are traveling East and West, instead of buying 2 passes, we just bought the All-Japan pass, meaning we can use it anywhere in Japan, a little difference won’t hurt you. (around S$50)

You can avail this Japan Railpass in any travel agencies here in Singapore.

IMG_3940

Yukata, Japanese robes.

5. Lastly, if you are planning to stay in a hotel in one of your destinations in your itinerary, better to book ahead online. It is so much cheaper! Hotels in Japan are very expensive and expect it to be very small, similar to their homes and flats, unlike here in Singapore, we are lucky to have big units unlike there, same rate as in here but their room is so small. I did not book for a hotel because I don’t know if plans will still change when we get there.

Once you got your plane tickets, your travel visa, your tour itinerary, your Japan Railpass and your hotel booking, you now are good to go! ;)

6. Brush up some of your basic Nihonggo, it helps a lot! ;)

Samurai

Geta, Japanese slippers.

At the end of our trip, my friends were asking me if my goal was accomplished.
I said yes, my goal of finally going to Japan was accomplished, but my relationship with my “boyfriend” then remained the same, sad to say. I am truly grateful that his mum was there for me to carry on and to still fight for another day, coz without her I do not know if I will ever enjoy this trip, she is so kind to treat me like her own child.

I just realized one thing, that you must be ready for the repercussions of your own actions if it didn’t turn out the way you see it before. I realized I was being selfish. Yes, I may have been generous but is that what he really wants? Does he have the same goal as mine? I realized that I just did what I just wanted or wished for, but I didn’t have the vision of what if this relationship is no longer worth fighting for and I just have to move forward and give the freedom he has been asking from me. I may have the vision but I chose not to see it.

Enough of drama hehe, like I said earlier, past is past! The trip was not a nightmare though, it’s just that I am now awake from my dreams. Thank you Japan for showing me what I needed to see- enlightenment.

Like in every apparent sunset, there is a sunrise. I am now ready to face all the challenges of the future.
Truly, Japan, you are the land of the rising sun :P

Inside the Shinkansen.

Emo inside the Shinkansen :P

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