Thursday, April 18, 2013

Japan Trip 3 July – 11 July 2012 (part 1)

I cant thank enough all the blogs, forum s I visited to prepare for our family trip to Japan .. so here goes…


Since we are from Indonesia, we require visa to enter Japan.  In the beginning I thought of going to the Consulate ourselves, to minimize cost but unfortunately my schedule and the distance between my office n the Japan embassy made it difficult to spare time within office hours, although I already prepared all documents basically based on several references.

Then I tried to apply visa through Travel Agent.  Found out that I must change the visa application form, then they also required that I provide all pages in the bank book. And I have to provide sponsorship letter for my kids who will be traveling with us (funny isn’t it) . but it wasn’t time for logic, so we just try to comply with whatever the travel agent required.
After the visa issued, I also bought travel insurance for each of us at a travel company.  

I read that its quite difficult to convert foreign exchange into  Yen,  i bought the yen here in Indonesia.  In June 2012 the selling rate is around 119.8 – 120.1. I bought in several foreign exchange places. If you want to get lower rate, u need to buy in Thursday/Friday, call first in the afternoon around 2 pm with minimum buy around 100,000 yen then pick it up in the evening. In one exchange place, u may need to deposit some fund first for them to be sure that you will buy the Yen. 

It is easy to find coin laundry in Japan so I highly recommend travel lightly.  And if possible find accommodation that allow you use microwave.  Since we travelled with kids we were worry that they ate less so we bought small rice cooker to make sure that they properly ate during breakfast. Most combini / convenience store sell microwaveable rice and u can also asked them to heat them... u still can cook it using rice cooker but just add a bit of water.
We also bought universal adaptor and T-connections

For hotel, we looked for reasonably priced family room.  I found that it is easier to get family room in area near theme park such as hotels within Universal Studio Osaka or within Disney resort.  Fortunately these hotels usually also have slightly lower price for 40/60 days advance purchase. So it was  good bargain. I got four-bed-room for 3 nights with price around 48,000-49,000 Yen (for 3 nights without breakfast). And there was no additional charge for advance booking.

Begin the journey

We took Airasia X flight for the trip. 
      Heres some note from me. 
          - No need to rent their personal video entertainment, since the flight is at night so actually u don’t need to wake up 
      - No need to buy the hot seat  for more leg room, because these seat are located behind the partition, the bad news is, when you are family, you cant pull up the arm rest .. my younger kid who wants to sleep cross-section, therefore she couldnt do this.. and made her upset.  During the flight I found a better option (in the Airasia magazine) that we could buy 1 – 2 empty seat at our row with only low price around 30-40 ringgit Malaysia.  This is worth trying. 

          - The air asia flight consist of two legs of journey. Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur then Kuala Lumpur to Osaka/Tokyo.  If you want specific food, its better to have it in the second leg of journey. Cause on the first leg of journey, its better to eat before you board the plane. And if you haven’t  prebook the meal before the trip, seems they can easily sold out (except noodle cup / milo stuff)

Day One
Arrive in Kansai Airport Osaka.  

We rented sim card for Iphone at the Softbank counter here.  We will return the card at Haneda Airport.  During my search for simcard rental, Softbank website is the easier to understand and also has a good rate for iphone. They have unlimited data usage fee : 1500 yen / day.  And we did use the iphone and its gps application quite a lot when finding certain street during our walks.
Kansai airport also has a travel counter.  We bought the limo bus ticket to get to our Hotel.
The journey from airport to hotel took around 1 hour.
Check in time at hotel is at 3 pm. We arrive around 12 noon. They say that if we want to check in earlier we have to pay more around 6000 yen. Oh my !! there goes my expectation of having easy checkin and had a shower before wander around osaka. 
So we left our baggage at hotel reception. They will put those in the room. 
I know that ICOCA is recommended but I was tempted to buy Osaka Unlimited Pass(@2000 yen / person). Ok, then I found out that it was a wrong, and bad decision. Why ? Japan is run by various transport company. Their government transport company is JR Train. But the JR Train is not included in Osaka Unlimited pass.  Its for usage within subway and other private train company. And they don’t have the good access as the JR Train. Because subway and the private train has different access, we spent more time looking for the access, getting in and out looking for sign.. and this is definitely wasn’t good for the kids and us who just came to Japan just few hours ago. 

I also found the subway sign as strange, because the put the last stop at the electric signage however the map didn’t show this last stop.. so it was a quite confusing and create tension between us.
The first day we are able to visit : Osaka Castle Park, Osaka international peace center, Osaka Kaiyukan and Tempozan Ferris wheel.
Osaka Museum History is around the Osaka Castle Park and Osaka peace center area, but we read the map wrongly. So instead of walking closer, we walked farther. And we couldn’t afford the time. We choose to go to Osaka Kaiyukan and the Ferris Wheel.
The Osaka Kaiyukan is quite huge and I think the best thing is the sight of sardines.. they really like what cartooned sardines in Finding Nemo depicted.
I found that many places in Japan provide stamping place for momentos. So if you are bringing kids to Japan don’t forget to bring a small note book, and look for stamping place around. Its quite fun. And I also saw some adult bring their book and put stamp on it.
When we finished with the Ferris Wheel it was already around 6.30 in the evening  so we tried to find food in the foodcourt near the wheel. Beware because the foodcourt in the area is quite expensive. A chicken curry rice set us back 850 yen / person.  Bad choice for first day. Haaah.

Day 2
We spent the day fully in the Universal Studio Park. We wanted to go out at night, but the kids are exhausted so we stayed in the hotel .  too bad that Universal Studio has shorter operating hour (in comparation with Disney).
We tried to visit all the attraction, at least ones that not available in US Singapore.
US Osaka open from 09.00 – 06.00 while Disney opens from 09.00 – 22.00. We split out for dinner, my daughter and I tried the takoyaki while the father and the boy tried the standing sushi. All in the USO citywalk area. 

note : turns out i only wrote down up to day 2. hope i can continue the post.. hahaha.. 

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