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Japan’s definitely on my bucket list. I could not describe the feeling when I first applied for a Japan Visa last September 2018 (Yes, 2018. You read it right. I know, it’s long overdue!). It took about a week for us to receive our passports. The anxiety of waiting drove me crazy. Luckily, my friends and I got approved! I made sure to be ready with all my Tokyo Japan essentials.

Our trip was on the third week of November 2018. It was already late-autumn in most parts of Tokyo. This was my first time to experience autumn so I had to be 200% ready for it. 

Since this is going to be a LONG post, I decided to divide it into 6 posts. In this blog post, I will be discussing everything you need to know before the trip (except for the budget as this will be discussed separately). Read along to know more!

Table of Contents

This section will be updated whenever a related blog post goes live. For your convenience, I have linked the titles below to its blog post.

  1. Visa, Tickets, Outfit, and Other Essentials
  2. Arrival in Tokyo & Roppongi
  3. Asakusa, Ueno Park, Rikugien Gardens, & Akihabara
  4. 3rd Day
  5. 4th Day
  6. Day 5, Day 6, Day 7 and Day 8
  7. Summary of Itinerary, Budget Breakdown, and Insider Tips

Getting a Japan Visa

If you are a Philippine passport holder who is planning to enter Japan for the purpose of tourism, you need a visa. Here’s a detailed list of requirements when applying for a Japan visa.

Basic Requirements

The basic requirements below are for applicants who will be shouldering all of his/her travel expenses.

  • Philippine passport
    • It should have at least 2 blank visa pages
  • Visa application form
    • Download Here
    • Please fill in N/A for items that are not applicable
  • Photo
    • 4.5cm x 4.5cm (2”x2”), White background
    • Taken within the past 6 months
    • Write your complete name and birthday at the back of the photo
    • Paste the photo in your visa application form
  • Birth Certificate
    • It must be issued within one year from a PSA Office
    • You don’t need to submit this if you can submit an old/valid passport with a used Japan visa
  • Marriage Certificate
    • Only applicable if you are married
    • You don’t need to submit this if you can submit an old/valid passport with a used Japan visa
  • Schedule of Stay in Japan (Taizai Yoteihyo)
  • Bank Certificate
    • Validity is within 3 months from the date of issue
    • This is an unwritten rule, but I make it a point to not make any deposits/withdrawals to the account while my visa is in process
  • Applicant’s BIR Form 2316 (latest photocopy)
  • Other documents that can contribute to an applicant’s case such as
    • Certificate of Employment
    • Explanation Letter (if there is something that the applicant needs to explain in detail)
    • Etc.

More Details

All your documents should be in A4 size. If the document is not in A4 size, you should submit a copy that is already adjusted in A4 size. An exception to this rule is your bank certificate. Just to be sure, always bring the original document and the adjusted/photocopy document. Let the agency decide which documents to submit.

Since the Embassy of Japan no longer accepts walk-in applicants, you need to lodge your application in one of the many accredited travel agencies of the embassy. You may refer to this list.

My agency of choice is Friendship Tours. Their address in Cebu is:

Unit 2-508, 5th Floor, OITC 2 Building, Oakridge Business Park, AS Fortune Street, Banilad, Mandaue City, Cebu

They’re open from 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Mondays to Fridays. Applying for a Japan Visa is free, but travel agencies charge a processing fee for handling your application. Friendship’s charge for a Single Entry visa is PHP 1,200. If you’re applying and subsequently get approved for a Multiple Entry visa, you need to pay an additional PHP 800.

Plane Ticket and Hotel Reservation

The embassy does not recommend applicants to book their plane ticket and hotel reservation before a visa is issued. If you look at the previous section, you’ll notice that a plane ticket and a hotel reservation is not part of the basic requirements. However, you have the option to submit additional documents that can help strengthen your application. I recommend to submit at least a hotel reservation.

My friends and I submitted our plane tickets and hotel reservations when we applied for a visa. I got my roundtrip plane ticket Cebu – Narita – Cebu for only PHP 2,032 (I know, it’s super cheap!) via Cebu Pacific Air last February 2018. In my opinion, if you are able to book for a cheap roundtrip plane ticket, go ahead and book it even if you don’t have a visa yet.

Here’s proof on how much my ticket cost. (There are 2 passengers in this flight itinerary, so divide the total amount by 2.)

For the hotel reservation, you can book a hotel that can be cancelled for free via Agoda or Booking.com. Just look for the Free Cancellation label in the listing.

Outfit

Our trip to Tokyo lasted for 8 days, from November 20, 2018 to November 27, 2018. The average temperature in Tokyo during our stay was somewhere between 7°C to 13°C. However, when we visited the area around Mt. Fuji specifically Lake Kawaguchiko, the temperature was at 4°C!

If you are visiting around this time, I urge that you do some layering on your outfit. Depending on how you handle cold weather, It’s best to put on 2 to 3 layers of clothing. Uniqlo’s Heattech is one of the “cheap” alternatives for this.

Here’s my suggestion on how you should do your layering from innermost to outermost:

  • Heattech / Insulating Layer
  • Sweater / Shirt / Polo
  • Jacket / Coat

In addition, wrap a scarf or neck gaiter around your neck. It keeps you warm! If it gets colder, especially at night, you can wear a beanie. Gloves can also be useful, but I didn’t use mine much. It makes it hard for me to type on my phone or take a hold of something.

Pocket WiFi and Suica Card

It’s important that you have internet access wherever you go. Book a pocket WiFi with Klook before you leave for your trip.

For the Suica card, you can get one at the Narita Airport Station. Prepare 2,000 yen in cash for the cost of the card. I highly suggest to charge (this is the term used when reloading) at least 5,000 yen on your Suica card. Alternatively, you can buy your Suica card through Klook.

Railway Map

Tokyo’s railway system is MASSIVE! It’s classified into 3 main categories:

  • JR (Japan Railway)
  • Subway
    • Tokyo Metro
    • Toei Subway
  • Private Railways
    • Odakyu Electric Railway
    • Keio Corporation
    • Keikyu Corporation
    • Keisei Electric Railway
    • Seibu Railway
    • Tokyu Corporation
    • Tobu Railway

It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a map with you and if you don’t read directions. We got lost several times. However, it’s something you shouldn’t really worry about because Japanese people are very helpful.

I highly recommend you download the following maps on your phone. In most cases, these 2 railway companies should cover everything you’ll be visiting.

What’s Next?

In the next article, I’ll be talking about Day 1 of our trip to Tokyo, Japan last November 2018.

Stay tuned!

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