8 Days in Japan: Tri-City DIY Itinerary and Family Travel Guide

Japan seems to be the ultimate Asian country dream (I’m not speaking for all here). But who wouldn’t want to fly to Japan and experience authentic Japanese foods? Their kimono? The clean-everything-country? The anime and Pokemon? And even the weird stuff like Mario Kart, Maid Cafe, Robot Cafe, and capsule hostel? So if you’re given an opportunity, you grab it fast and with no doubt. That’s what my mom did!

P.S Japan can be really expensive but with proper planning and Japan itinerary, it doesn’t have to be. I went with my family of five, 2 parents in 50s and 3 adult kids.

Double P.S. We purchased a JR Pass for 7 Days. So most of our train rides are planned to maximize this pass.

Airfare

Jetstar Airways

Jetstar AirwaysJetstar Airways

My ever YOLO queen mom saw a Jetstar promo one night that she decided to booked an airfare to Japan with no plans, visa and will soon expire passports of me and my siblings. She’s not even fully aware of the airline. She got our tickets for 11,000 pesos round trip each which were already cheap given that our travel dates are just 3 months away. I knew someone who got her tickets for 8,000 pesos round trip but it was booked almost a year before.

So we were flying with Jetstar for the first time. If you are not familiar with the airline, Jetstar Airways is an Australian low-cost airline and wholly owned subsidiary of Qantas. We had an ungodly hour flight of 12:50 midnight to Japan but thank God they’re not delayed. The plane reminds me of Cebu Pacific’s but a lot cleaner and smaller leg room. But overall, our experience with Jetstar is good and would definitely fly again. Also, another thing you need to know about them is that they take your hand luggage seriously. IT. IS. STRICTLY. SEVEN. KILOS.

Here’s how to find cheap flights to Japan with Traveloka. You can compare airfares there to find the best flights for your trip to Japan. You can also choose from the airlines flying directly to Narita airport such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Airasia, Japan Airlines and ANA.

READ MY FIRST TIME FLYING EXPERIENCE WITH JETSTAR (TO TOKYO!)

Visa Processing

JAPAN Guides

If you are a Philippines passport holder like us, welcome to the ever hassle visa application process. Similar to Korean visa application, you just have to submit all the needed requirements and no interviews. So let’s start:

  1. Visit the Embassy of Japan website. In the Type of Visa section, look for what you’ll be applying for. We had the Visa for Tourism. So I’ll be only talking about this.
  2. Download this form and fill it up. Here’s a sample visa application form. Attach a photo of you in 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background.
  3. Now gather the required documents: My parents submitted their NSO and marriage certificate, business permits of their businesses, ITR & bank certificate. My siblings passed a certificate of enrollment from their colleges, NSO and an affidavit of support from my parents. And me, as a young professional, I submitted my NSO, ITR, Certificate of Employment and my bank certificate with around 100k pesos. You have to prove you can finance yourself and not poor enough here in PH to be a TNT there.
  4. You need to submit your itinerary as well in this format. I draft a skeleton of our itinerary, nothing too detailed, but only a list of places we’ll go in that specific date.
  5. When you have everything, pass all the requirements in their accredited agencies. We went with Reli Tours in SM Megamall and they have a handling fee of 950 pesos/person.
  6. Wait for the call. But most likely, family visas are good to go! 🙂

Japan DIY Itinerary (with budget)

Japan DIY Itinerary

TOTAL EXPENSES: 50,680/PERSON
Airfare: 11,000 PHP
Travel tax: 1,620 PHP
JR Pass: 12,500 PHP
Accommodation: 6,800 PHP
DAY 1 (OSAKA): 1,500 PHP
DAY 2 (USJ): 5,000 PHP
Day 3 (KYOTO): 1,570 PHP
Day 4 (NARA): 2,000 PHP
Day 5 (TOKYO): 1,100 PHP
Day 6 (HAKONE): 3,000 PHP
Day 7 (TOKYO): 2,990 PHP
Day 8 (TOKYO): 1600 PHP

If you’re planning for a Japan tri-city with convenience then you can have this budget as a guide.  I know this is a little high but this is the reality of Japan. Food and train rides are expensive most especially if you’re with your parents since you need to take account their convenience.

TRAVEL GUIDE

Is the JR Pass worth it?

JR Pass will entitled you of unlimited train rides to all JR Lines (I repeat ONLY JR lines, there are a lot of train companies) and bullet trains for a given number of days. It is not sold inside Japan. We got ours in Reli Tours here in Manila for 12,500 PHP EACH valid for 7 days. So is it worth it? If you’re a family and want to explore Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hakone, then yes it is worth it! Considering my aging parents and picky siblings, they won’t survive overnight buses. I just planned our train rides wisely (just taking JR trains) to maximize the pass.

BUT if it was just me, I won’t purchase it. Kyoto and Nara are more accessible by bus and Tokyo is by subway thus they offer unlimited ride promos like Kyoto’s 1 or 2 day/s bus pass and Tokyo’s Subway 3 Day Ticket. And there are overnight buses (Tokyo to Osaka starts at 1,500 pesos one way) that can take you in different cities and provinces of Japan. With this kind of set-up, it will cost you around 8k to 9k pesos for transportation. So, getting a JR Pass boils down on your travel lifestyle.

Airbnb or Hotel?

We are a family of 5 adults and most of the hotels will require us to get two rooms which is more expensive. Solo travelers and couples can save a lot with cheap or backpacker hotels. And I don’t think I can put my mom on a cheap hostel with no elevators. So we went for an Airbnb.

Since we are staying for 8 days in Japan, dining three times a day can cost you more than 1,500 pesos. To save money from food we got an airbnb because mostly of them have a kitchen where we can cook breakfasts and dinners we brought from the Philippines or we bought in the grocery. Bonus, they have a laundry.

So based on our experience, we saved a lot from Airbnb. We stayed on a 4 star hotel on our 5 days Korea trip last year for 30k pesos. We spend the same amount on our 8 days Japan trip this year. Additional bonus is some airbnbs have pocket wifis you can bring.

Tokyo? or Osaka? or both?

I know there are other cities like Hokkaido and Hiroshima but let’s focus on the 2 big ones. We managed Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka in 8 days but it surely is fast phased and really tiring. My family had a good training from our previous travels that they can walk a whole day without complains. So if you have kids or and old family member who can’t walk all day, I advised you to just pick either Tokyo or Osaka. But if you’re staying for more than 10 days, then go see both. Osaka is a laid back city while Tokyo is more wild, advanced and techie.

Going on a Japan trip with your family soon? Or maybe went already? Let’s talk in the comment section below!

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