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November 15, 2015

Neil Writes About Japan 2015 Day 1 - Manila to Osaka (Budget $1000/Php45000 per Person)

Earlier this year a certain budget airline had a sale for their flights from Manila to Osaka. So me and my family took the opportunity and booked our flight to coincide with the early November holidays.

Two years before this writing, we went to Tokyo and Hakone on tour. Our budget at the time was $2300.00 per person (At the time this was $ 6900.00). What I realised from the trip is that Japan is so advanced combined with its consistency with its transportation and information infrastructure that you can practically come back with yourself, your money and your smartphone with internet via pocket Wifi and get around on your own.

So I challenged myself to go back to this wonderful country for five days with only a $1000 (Php 45,000) per person as a budget. Yes, Including lodging and airline tickets. Impossible? No, timing and location are everything.

Manila Sunrise

Airline Tickets

The airline tickets we got were a deal! The cheap tickets to Osaka started at $130.00 (Php 6000) for a one-way flight with the return adding another $130.00. This totalled the whole airline ticket fare at $260.00 (Php 12,000) per person. We booked our tickets during a sale period, and got our tickets for around $220.00 (Php 10,000) for both to MANILA to OSAKA and OSAKA to MANILA. There is of course a huge trade-off of patience. We booked the flights in May while our trip was in November.

This is our airline's Invoice where we were billed for all five passengers!


After purchasing tickets, we booked our airline tickets, we proceeded with lodging. We took the risk, and we tried AirBnB. This was the first time we tried it and put our faith on the reputation of how honorable the Japanese are. We found an apartment that is located in the 'Namba' area. Namba is one of the best places to stay because it is several blocks away from these hotspots: Doutonbori, Shinsaibashi, Denden town and neighbourhood market.

The best tip I have for you is to pick an apartment near a station and a market. The station because you can get to any place in Osaka via trains and a little walk while the market enables you to have a complete meal for as low as JPY 500 per person should you decide to cook, and as low as JPY 650 for pre-prepared meals like sushi or rice meal sets.

EUR 663 was around Php 36,000.00 when it was charged to my credit card last May 2015

We got an apartment that starts at a little over Php 5000.00 per night plus Airbnb's processing fee multiplied by five nights totalled to a little over Php 35,000.00. That is a deal! The more affordable hotel rooms in Japan are not that big and are usually charged per head/person. I tried googling rooms as of this writing and found a hotel near my apartment that starts at $ 130.00 per night (Php 6000.00) and from the looks of the pictures, it is pretty bare bones and the quality isn't that far off.

With the AirBnB apartment, we have amenities for cooking like pans and stoves, for dining like plates, bowls and utensils, for laundry like a washing machine, hangers and soap, and for sleeping like futons, beds, pillows and thick blankets. All of that for roughly the same price as a bare bones hotel room. The X-factor is that it feels homey and that we picked an apartment with traditional wooden sliding doors with traditional tatami floors.

Lucky enough to sit just behind our Plane's wings!


On the day of our trip, we get to the Airport three hours early and checked ourselves in. We paid the usual NAIA terminal fee of Php 1650 per person and went to Immigration. After that we went to our airline's gate. We waited for an hour and we started boarding and soon we were in the air.

Three hours later the captain greeted us, and told us that we were at our final descent to Kanzai International Airport (KIX). An hour later we were forming our lines at Immigration. After that we picked up our bags, and arrived at the main wing.

We didn't have an inflight meal so we decided to eat at one of the restaurants in the airport. We found a medium size establishment that specialises on 'Katsus' or Chops. We each had the Big Katsu Set that that a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of japanese rice, a generous serving of finely chopped cabbage, a plate of assorted vegetable and seafood tempura, a serving of potato salad and a plate of assorted Katsus (Pork, Chicken, Fish). This was actually quite a luxurious lunch worth JPY 1500 each.

We were starving and we wanted to have a little celebration for our arrival. A total of JPY 7500 for lunch is actually quite a lot but don't worry, whatever remains is just enough for the remaining four days. Please note that as of this writing the conversion of PHP to JPY is PHP 0.40 = JPY 1.

This is where the Rapid Train bound for Namba is!

KIX to Apartment

After our late lunch we went straight for the Train station in front of the Main Wing of the airport. Our apartment is in the Namba area so we were in luck because there is a Limited Rapid Train that travels from the Airport to Tengachaya station. Tengachaya station is three stations away from our apartment. When we got to Tengachaya we transfered to the Sakaisuji Line (Brown Line). After three stations we arrived at Nipponbashi (Pronounced as Nippombashi) station. Nipponbashi is a five minute walk to Namba Station.

Nankai-Namba Limited Rapid Train from KIX to Tengachaya Station

After arriving at Nipponbashi station we walked to our apartment which was a couple of blocks a way. Do not worry if you are carrying those big stroller bags. All public transportation terminals and stations have sufficient and operational elevators to accommodate you. In fact, if you have a stroller, you are a priority for Elevator use. 

Our host, Alex gave us two options to get the apartment key: 1. We drop by the place that he worked and meet him personally for the key or 2. He leaves the key at the mail box for us to pick-up. We chose the latter for we were in a hurry.

Umeda Business District

Our next stop is the Umeda business district which is one of the busiest stations in Osaka, and it is near the Pokemon Center, Umeda Sky Building and Forget Me Not Coffee. We usea the Midosuji Line (Red Line) to get there. Umeda station is four stations away and costs JPY 240 per person.

As you get off the Elevator to the 13th Floor you are greeted by a giant Pokeball!

Pokemon Center

The Pokemon Center is at the 13th floor Daimaru Umeda building which is conveniently located near the station where we get off. We let our inner kids go wild and got our Blastoise and Venusaur plush toys. Yes, Charizard (Lizardon) was sold out. We were a little disappointed. 

A worm's eye view of the Umeda Sky Building!

Umeda Sky Building

Night fell and it was time to visit the Umeda Sky Building. What is special about it is its hanging garden observatory. For JPY 700 per person (Php 280) gives you a 360 degree view of Osaka. In the evening the view is breathe taking. See some of my pictures of this below.

After nearly an hour of relaxing at the beautiful view, we stepped into the elevator and marveled at the view from the glass elevator as we descended to street level. One of my goals for this trip is to have a cup of specialty coffee each day of my trip, and Forget me not coffee was conveniently a couple of blocks away. 

Forget Me Not Coffee & Dinner

That Coffee was amazing! It was unbelievably smooth! Normally I take little sips off my cup but with Forget Me Not's cup I was chugging it in like water! Moreover, the coffee had a kick that immediately reinvigorated me with every chug!

Unbelievably smooth with a kick that made me never to forget this Latte!

After having coffee we felt that we were hungry, and decided to have dinner at this Ramen place in Umeda station. A bowl of their classic Ramen starts at JPY 700.00 (Php 280). We ordered four bowls because my mother and my sister felt they couldn't finish one because they were still full from the Katsu set earlier.  My family prefer water when dining outside and since they serve a pitcher of water per table. We gladly drank from it for free. This totalled to a dinner costing JPY 2800.00 (Php 1120.00).

For JPY 700.00 this is a steal!

After dinner we bought a box of the locally famous Manneken Waffles for our breakfast tomorrow. It contained 10 waffles for JPY 1200.00 (Php 480.00) We got lucky because most of the waffles were sold out and we just barely filled up the box. 

On our way back to Umeda Station from Forget Me Not!

Umeda to Apartment

The waffle stand is a couple of minutes away from the Midosuji Line (the one we took to get to Umeda from the Apartment) which is our ride back to our apartment for another JPY 240.00 yen per person. This will roughly take you 15 to 20 minute commute. Not bad right? Their infrastructure is a thing to be hold. I really wish it would make it here in the Philippines!

Budget Breakdown (Per Person)

Note: Conversion Rate = PHP 0.40 = JPY 1.
Japanese Visa Processing: Php 950.00 (Reli Tours)
Airline Tickets (MNL to KIX & KIX to MNL): Php 10,000++
AirBnB (Lodging for five nights): Php 7000,00++
NAIA Terminal Fee: Php 1650.00
Subtotal: Php 19,600.00 Per Person

Day One Expenses

KIX to Apartment Train: JPY 1670.00 = Php 668.00
Apartment Station to Umeda Station: JPY 240.00 = Php 96.00
Pokemon Center Plushies: JPY 4000.00 = Php 1600.00
Umeda Sky Building Observatory Entrance Fee = JPY 700.00 = Php 280.00
Forget Me Not Latte: JPY 400 = Php 160.00
Classic Ramen Bowl: JPY 700 = Php 280.00
Manneken Waffles: JPY 1200 = Php 480.00
Umeda Station to Apartment Station: JPY 240.00 = Php 96.00
Day One Subtotal: Php 3660.00

Total Trip Expenses So Far: Php 23,260.00 Per Person

Money Left: Php 21,740.00 = JPY 54,350.00 Per Person

We stayed at Osaka for five days and I will be writing the rest within the next few days. I will place the link below as they come available.

See you guys again on the next one!
If you have questions and suggestions please don't hesitate to mention them in the comments below!

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