Beautiful but expensive are two words that could kill a dream. The wanting of a copious bank account, constantly depleted by responsibilities, lattes, fatty food, and other things born out of a whim, did not make me hopeful that I would ever get to Japan, at least not anytime soon. But if there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that life is full of surprises. And surprise of epic proportion is what I received wrapped in a metaphorical bow of awesomeness. It is so awesome I moved on with ease over a lost opportunity to fly to Indonesia. Last September, I found myself taking that 4-hour flight with 12 others to Osaka, Japan.
Cebu Pacific (CEB), the largest carrier in the Philippine air transportation industry flew me and 9 other bloggers in an 8PM flight to Osaka. CEB offers low-cost services to 36 Philippine and 30 international destinations over Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and USA.
On how I scored this 4-day sponsored trip, I have many people to thank, the first would be Trisha Velarmino, the genius behind P.S. I’m On My Way. Trisha, that magnificent human being who traveled for years in her lonesome in South America, went home to the Philippines for a quick vacation. I met her in that blogger’s trip in Baguio where we were bunked in the same room and had a chance to get to know each other. Trisha is creating a rainbow of opportunities for some writers and I and it’s through this that I was able to visit Japan. About this “awesome project” I’m sparing you the details for now so as not to ruin this wonderful surprise 😉 . [Read: Musings of a Part Introvert on a Group Tour in Baguio]
How to Get Japan Visa
I had no trouble applying for a Japan visa because the ever reliable and remarkable Media Relations Supervisor of Strategic Works, Inc., Kezia Romblon, took care of it. But I still took the time to google the knowledge to share with you.
- Go to Japan Embassy’s website. Download and fill out the Visa Application form.
- Obtain required documents, such as:
- 1 copy of ID photo, 4.5cm x 4.5cm with white background
- Birth certificate (NSO issued, original copy)
- Bank balance certificate (get this from the branch where you opened your bank account)
- Income Tax Return (Form 2316 or 1701, original copy)
- A copy of your itinerary and hotel booking
- Go to an accredited travel agencies to work on your application because Japan embassy no longer accepts direct applications.
- Visa fee depends on which travel agency will work on your visa but expect to shell out somewhere around 800 to 1,200 pesos (USD 16.56 – 24.84).
- And the most important requirement of them all — Hope for the best!
How to Get There
There are a few airlines that fly to Osaka, Japan, but of course, I recommend, CEB.
Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines, flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP 6,399 (USD 132.44). Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through http://bit.ly/CEBOsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.
Kansai International Airport
We touched down on Osaka around 11 in the evening after a 4-hour travel in a turbulence that could test the faith of the most devout and induce belief to a skeptic. It was my first time to sit on the front row, but I was placed on the middle seat. With no view of the clouds to offer comfort and no calming music to meditate on (’cause I checked in my luggage and it slipped my mind to take out my earphones), I dealt with my flying anxiety by trying my darnedest to sleep. I couldn’t say in affirmative whether I succeeded; the feel of my sweaty palms is still vivid in my head, but hey, I survived! [Read: 7 Tips to Conquer Fear of Flying]
Kansai International Airport or KIX is the gateway to the Kansai Region, where you can find the major cities, Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka. KIX is built on an artificial island on Osaka Bay. Because it’s on a manmade island, a 3-kilometer bridge was created to connect it to the mainland via the town of Rinku. Several railways connect to KIX, and this alone fascinates me. No leaving the airport just to ride a train, hurrah! From there, it was an hour journey to Nakanoshima via JR Kansai. [Read: Everything you need to know about using the Japan Rail Pass in Osaka]
Rihga Royal Hotel
Our stay included free breakfast; a choice between their Japanese resto and their buffet restaurant. What I liked most at Rihga Royal Hotel is the bathroom. It’s not as fancy as the other hotels, but I love the automated toilet.
That night, after checking in, we went out for ramen. The ramen is not just good, it’s gold and it deserves a post of its own (watch out for that). This is just a prelude of a great adventure. Coming up, I’m going to take you to Universal Studios Japan.