One of my travel dreams is to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. This country is home to beautiful blossoms of cherry trees, bowls of delicious “ramen” , and to thousands of undying anime characters. To put this goal into reality, I applied a tourist visa together with my family and was happy that it was approved and received it after a few days.
Guesthouse and Flight
Most hotels in Japan are noticeably expensive even the simplest one. Some of the accommodations at any booking websites which has very affordable rates are having shared toilets and bathrooms. However, convenience and location had helped me decide and break funds for an offered apartment. Renting a local apartment was found the most practical way of getting a comfortable room to stay in Japan compared to the expensive hotel rates especially I am traveling with a small child. The availability of J-Suite East Namba, 4F in Osaka which booked at Booking.com suited our needs.
The flight to Japan from the Middle East offers cheaply but the flight using our national flight carrier, Philippine Airlines saves us half of the normal fare. The complications of transit in Manila might be a burden to other nationalities but we, Filipinos, can endure it. We arrived at Philippine Airport Terminal 1 and as instructed by airline transfer desk, we passed at immigration for entry, rode the airline transfer shuttle bus to Terminal 2, and passed again at immigration for exit stamps before reaching the pre-departure area of our connecting flight. There are changes which will happen to Philippine airports in August this year and I hope that the idea will help for a smooth transit and transfer in the future. At this time, transiting in Manila is not advisable unless it is a personal choice or there are no other options.
We departed from Manila at 4pm and arrived in Kansai at 7pm in Japan’s local time. The flight from Manila to Kansai was less than four hours and was happy seeing the delectable flight meal as the food served was a Japanese bento, a local cuisine in a box. On the arrival, a bio-metrics was taken for all adult visitors before queuing at the immigration counter. The advantages of traveling with a small kid were availing the express lane and no doubting questions expected from an immigration officer. As noticed, most of the person staying longer and being questioned at the immigration window are solo travelers.
After successfully passing the Japan immigration and customs, I exchanged bills to the local currency and headed to the Express Haruka train station for a 35-minute fast ride to Tennoji station. The Express Haruka is a limited express train servicing Kansai Airport to Kyoto with stopover in Tennoji and Shin-Osaka stations in Osaka.
First Impression of a Japanese
The Japanese have the heart to help. They don’t commonly use English to communicate but they help voluntarily especially to tourist who are struggling in operating the train ticketing machines. We had knew from a young lady that two tickets should be inserted to the ticket gate upon entering the station. While on our way, another woman stood up from her seat and came back with the train inspector to confirm that the train we rode in will stop to the right station because we pronounced the station’s name incorrectly.
Brawling with Stairs at the Train Station
As we get off at Tennoji Station, I started to face the problem that I expected to encounter. I was grudgingly looking to our big trolleys. There was no escalator but I was happy to see that there was an elevator. We used the elevator but we were lost and confused. We didn’t know the way out for it led us to another train platform. We returned back and used the stairs in going up lifting our now became heavy trolleys. My nerves beat like my heart. My flex was tested while on the stairs while stepping as fast as the pace of newly arrived commuters who were at my back and walked with the flow of the crowd. I left my wife and son but following me behind. Trains are the most used transportation in Osaka so it was expected that the station become crowded instantly once a train stops.
Tennoji station is big and was asked few individuals for direction to reach the station’s exit door. We easily recognized the entrance to Tanimachi subway station, our second train ride in Osaka. A deep long breath was given as I saw that I have to go down manually by stairs equivalent to two-story building. It was the most tiring moment of our travel, grasping and lifting of two big trolleys at each hand while stepping down the stairs. We normally travel together with a single trolley but because we will stay longer in the Philippines after our Japan visit, we carried additional two luggage.
After buying our tickets from the machine with the help of two locals, we entered the platform and shortly traveled for three minutes to Shitennoji-mae, the station near to our accommodation. Another stairs going up was waiting for me and my carried bags.
Self Check-in Accommodation at J-Suite East Namba, 4F
It was 9pm when we got out from the station. We walked another four minutes pulling our trolleys until we found our rented apartment. The offline map and the access directions emailed by the owner saved us. It was my first time to experience the self check-in method upon entering an establishment. The room key was kept inside the postal box and the password was separately emailed by the owner together with a house guide. Before we traveled, I researched on how to unlock a postal box and gladly opened it at a single attempt.
J-Suite East Namba is a four-story small building, one room apartment per floor, with occupants on the first two floors and the remaining top floors are for rent. The entire 4th floor was for us as our base for our Osaka and neighboring cities tour.
The room has a refrigerator, microwave, heater and with kitchen utensils free to use. The most appreciated tool we found in the room was the pocket wifi that can be brought when going out. This handy tool kept us with internet connection anywhere while staying in Japan.