E-session by Ryan Ortega

Autumn in Tokyo

A lovely Autumn in Tokyo.

Photo blog on the link below.

=)

http://www.ryanortegaphoto.com/okinawa-zeph-and-jenny-tokyo-engagement-session/

4 Vital Points for a Cheaper Japan Travel

Japan has an image of being one of the most expensive countries in the world, and if you’re staying in hotels, eating out, and traveling around a lot, then it can really cost you a bomb. It is never going to be as cheap as other destinations and while it may be an expensive country to visit, there are plenty of ways to make this country affordable.

To me, budget travel is value travel. So, I have listed 4 vital points on how you can cut down the costs and make this country affordable:

1.) TRANSPORTATION20160329_165523-02[1]Transportation is one of the most expensive aspects of travel in Japan and this will surely eat up your pennies. The bullet train, while awesome, comfortable, and fast, is not cheap at all. Individual rail journey can cost hundreds of dollars when added altogether. So in order to reduce your train costs, get a Japan Rail (JR) pass.Screenshot_20160709-184104-01[1]I repeat, do get a JAPAN RAIL PASS and here’s my BIG NOTE: You only can buy this pass outside of Japan and only people on a tourist visa can avail this special pass, so purchase this before arriving in Japan or else you will end up spending twice or thrice of its cost. 20160329_171011-01[1]Passes are sold at 7-day, 14-day and 21-day categories, includes all trains (shinkasen, express, local,etc..) and a few highway buses. I purchased the 7-day unli pass even if I was there for 12 days. I regret of not getting the 14 days instead. haha! I bought it at 28,300 yen (377SGD or 13000Php) It’s even expensive than your promo fare flight I guess, and it will make your spending double or triple if you don’t have it.20160329_165425-01-01[1]Many people are put off by the high cost of the rail pass, but if you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, it’s best to have a proper budget in place. So getting this Unli pass is a must to help cut down your expenses. In my case, I traveled OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. So it definitely was a great deal for me and of course to anyone who wish to explore Japan.

2.) FOOD20160404_124447-01[1]There’s an array of cheap food options in the country, and unless you go out to mid-range or better restaurants, then you may not be able to cut your daily totals down. Sorry, I’m guilty on this. Since It was my first time visiting the country, I went a bit all out when it comes to food. But I never regret that I spent fairly on food than shopping. Oink! haha

20160331_171658-01[1]IMG_20160331_211442-01[1]20160331_171110-01[1]20160331_170714-01-01[1].jpegJust to give you an idea, roughly 20,000 yen (250Sgd/9000Php) for this meal. Yes, it’s crazy expensive but god! I couldn’t find the right words to describe how tasty it was. All I can remember that time was like, sh*t the beef melted in my mouth. haha! That’s how tender the beef was.

You actually don’t really need to spend much money on food. There are many affordable options you can consider to cut your food spending. And if you are there mainly for the picturesque views, breathtaking scenes and magnificent temples and gardens then cutting on your food budget will definitely help you hang onto your money.

So here’s how you can save money on food:

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  • Eat at 100-yen shops – There are many 100-yen shops in Japan, where set meals, groceries, water, toiletries, household items, and more are simply 100 yen (1Sgd/35Php). Of course! as a thrifty shopper I did all my shopping at these shops. haha! Their names vary by region, so ask your hotel/hostel reception or Airbnb host where the nearest 100-yen shop is located.
  • Eat at Lawson (Japan’s Convenience store) – Max Value, 7-11, Family Mart, and other corner stores have a lot of pre-set meals for 100–300 yen. Additionally, supermarkets have many set meals at similar prices too and I noticed, this was even a popular choice for the locals.
  • Cook your food – Apartments that you book from AirBnb and some Hostels have kitchens, where you can cook and cut your food expenses to less than 800 yen (10Sgd/360Php) per day, especially by shopping at the 100-yen stores.
  • Get take-away meals from grocery stores – Cheap and fresh bento, take-away sushi, noodles, and udon are just some of the grab-and-go options available at Japanese grocery stores.

Don’t be afraid buying all the ready to eat food as it is prepared fresh daily in Japan. Even in the supermarkets and thus, they want to sell as much of their bento plates and pre-cooked foods by the end of the day. Hence, there are discounts when you buy late night. Sushi plates, salads, tempura and a lot more to try… all fresh and damn delicious!

3.) ACCOMMODATION

Finding cheap accommodation is indeed a real pain. Try to stay in Hostels or Ryokans, as Japanese hotel rooms are way too expensive. Ryokans are Japanese-style inns which will give you a more authentic Japanese experience as you sleep on tatami matt floor, futons, and some have onsen steam bath. While Hotel offers you the cookie-cutter experience of a room, a few amenities, and an overpriced minibar. Wouldn’t something different be nice for a change? Hmm. then I personally recommend Airbnb.Screenshot_20160709-185335-01[1]It was actually my first time using Airbnb.com and honestly I was skeptical about it. But, I managed to try myself and yeah I strongly recommend it after having an awesome stay in Japan. To be exact, stayed for about 4 locations since I explored Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and Tokyo for about 12 days. Airbnb is something of a unique experience since you can find an affordable place to stay while having a home-away-from-home comfort in a new city.Screenshot_20160709-185531-01[1]Airbnb is a service in which homeowners rent out a room, or sometimes their whole house, to guests through an online profile on Airbnb.com. Both hosts and guests are reviewed and the service works on a rating system to help ensure that you’re not renting to or renting from someone who is completely crazy.Screenshot_20160709-185716-01[1]Experiences vary though, but generally you’ll be expected to interact with your host a little more than you would a hotel concierge. Some places offer more than just a room; they’ll provide you with breakfast, a drive to or from the station, and gosh! their hospitality is at the fullest, as locals are very warm-hearted that they will take extra mile just to give you a memorable experience. And I can attest because I personally experienced all of those. My Japan travel was made extra special because of my Airbnb hosts. 20160405_100050-02[1]20160405_100050-01[1]I so love their kindness, they are so helpful and very polite. I couldn’t forget that time when I reached Tokyo around 8 in the evening and my host prepared a sumptuous dinner, thinking that I still haven’t eaten from my trip all the way from Kyoto. Touched! Who wouldn’t be? Screenshot_20160709-185058-01[1]And here is my one bit of advice if you decide using Airbnb. READ THE REVIEWS! You will never go wrong in booking a certain place If it has nothing but all positive reviews, go with it. Read reviews and room details thoroughly. It’s not always cheaper than a hotel room either, so specify your budget in the search criteria.

There are literally over 1 million listings across the globe so you have tons of unique options that will make your next getaway unforgettable. Lastly, A word of warning – book your accommodation far in advance of your trip,  at least a month. The best and cheapest places book up very quickly, especially in blossom season!

4.) RANDOM SPENDING

This is the one area people tend to underestimate or rather not budget for at all. You will shop when travelling; it could be for souvenirs, gifts for family, or things for yourself, so you might as well put some money aside. Also, most people who visit Japan will spend on random things they don’t normally spend, you know why? Simply because Japan offers a variety of bizarre stuff, from unique charms to mouthwatering peculiar Japanese delicacies which you might want to bring home and give to your family and friends. So If you’re the type who likes to shop, you may want to budget a little more.

So here’s my final word for a cheaper Japan travel:

Japan can be done on the cheap, but if you’re going to travel all the way to Japan, it’s best to have a proper budget in place. You don’t want to miss out experiences because you didn’t budget properly. And if you are doing it free and easy then ready yourself from all the trip guides you can read online. Trust me, reading other people’s experience through blog-posts will really help you a lot specially on the budget. Didn’t this post help you? Yay! I pretty hope it did. Comments below are welcome!

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Love,

Stylishwanderer.com

The Scenic Countryside of Kyoto

Located on the Western Outskirts of Kyoto lies the Historic Site and Place of Scenic Beauty of Arashiyama. It’s terrifically charming and feels a bit like traveling back in time a few hundred years. Undoubtedly, it has become one of the famous landmark which offers a unique window into Kyoto’s historic heart.

Start the day around 9 in the morning to explore the district of Arashiyama. For those who have JR PASS, take the JR Sagano line from Kyoto Station and alight at Saga Arashiyama Station. It is 10 mins. on foot before you reach the gate of Tenryuji temple. Entrance costs ¥500 (6sgd/203php) and it’s really worth the visit.20160402_090653-01[1]As we mosey around the temple grounds of Tenryuji, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and considered as Kyoto’s top 5 Zen Temples, I was in awe.20160402_091643-01[1]
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The glorious garden that surrounds it is a testament to the timeless nature of Japanese landscaping. 20160402_092054-01[1]20160402_092934-01[1]20160402_092419-01[1]20160402_092824-01[1]20160402_092345-01[1]20160402_092244-01[1]20160402_093323-01[1]20160402_093424-01[1]20160402_093148-01[1]After Tenryuji, head back to where you entered the temple grounds. From there is actually the starting point of the must see Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (Click to read post).20160402_090442-01[1]20160402_090412-01[1]20160402_090259-01[1]20160402_093556-01[1] I love the wind chime quality of the bamboo rattling and the light rustle of the leaves. It’s magical! And as you keep walking towards the end of the groves, is the way to the breathtaking view of Arashiyama Mountain.20160402_095821-01[1]20160402_100437-01-01[1]20160402_103035-01-01[1]20160402_103032-01-01[1]If there is one place in Kyoto where I could say I fell in love with at first sight, then It would be the scenic view of Arashiyama Mountain. Surrounded by wonderful scenery of nature and the togetsu-kyo bridge as its most iconic landmark. It’s definitely magnificent! Here, you will be listening to relaxing sounds of the river, spotting boat rowing, and running into visitors enjoying their rickshaw rides. I spent a few hours to savor the picturesque setting. So, you definitely must dedicate at least half a day at Arashiyama district. Now, I’ll let the pictures do the talking. 🙂
20160402_113612-01[1]20160402_113253-01[1]20160402_113340-01[1] 20160402_104133-01[1]20160402_104507-01[1]20160402_114441-01[1]20160402_120610-01[1]20160402_114806-01[1]20160402_115221-01[1]And To cap off the morning part is my favorite activity, EATING. lol. It’s time for lunch! There are lots of small souvenir and food shops lining both sides of the street. So for a choice of place to eat is definitely not a problem. Just don’t be afraid to try any of them. Gladly, I’ve picked the best place to dine in. The Japanese resto which I forgot the name (sorry) :p situated right across the end of Togetsukyo bridge. Gazing at my favorite view, the quaint countryside of Arashiyama Mountains with many tourists walk blissfully in different direction while eating my authentic Japanese meal is beyond any doubt unrivalled. A great combo of food and setting. 20160402_104814-01[1]20160402_112854-01[1]20160402_111035-01[1]20160402_111044-01[1]

Itadakimasu!20160402_110656-01[1]20160402_111455-01[1]

I purposely had a simple meal cause I know that on the other side of togetsukyo bridge lies a lot of  Japanese food stalls by the river.

And who do not want to try as much food as you can? lol.

TADAAAH!
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The sunny freezing cold weather paired with yummy matcha vanilla ice cream! Ahhh.. Heaven!20160402_122008-01[1]

The first part of the day ends here. So, the next part is to visit the famous Golden Pavilion Temple before taking the Shinkansen ride bound for Tokyo. I’ll be making a separate post for the Ginkakuji Temple coz I find this post a bit lengthy now. lol.

 

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I hope you find this blog post helpful, especially for you guys planning to explore the Countryside of Kyoto, Arashiyama district. It actually is one of my fave!

-Stylishwanderer.com

 

Osaka Castle: Why You Have To Visit

If there is one must-see for any visitor in Osaka, then it should be Osaka Castle. Truly a magnificent symbol of the City. It signifies the pride of Osaka. Beautiful and majestic on its own; with Sakura it’s positively magical. In addition to being historically significant and artistic architectural it provides visitors with much things to do and see.20160331_094620-01[1]20160331_094605-01[1]20160331_093919-01[1]20160331_095100-01[1]It is well laid out. There is a lift to take people up to level five of the total seven levels or you can climb the stairs yourself. The idea is to get to the top and work your way down the levels. Sadly taking snaps inside the castle is prohibited but the displays are great and worth the visit with a picturesque view at the top.20160331_093737-01[1]20160331_094724-01-01[1]20160331_094908-01[1]20160331_095301-01[1]20160331_095725-01-01-01[1]20160331_095803-01[1]20160331_100255-01[1]20160331_102025-01[1]
While it costs you 600 yen, 7.5sgd or around 250php to access the castle. It’s totally free to take a stroll around the grounds, exploring the many fortifications and gates that stand strong to this day. 20160331_110653-01[1]20160331_112718-01[1]20160331_112707-01[1]20160331_112643-01[1]20160331_092730-01-01[1]20160331_092704-01-01[1]20160331_092916-01[1]20160331_092938-01[1]20160331_092909-01-01[1]20160331_092900-01-01[1]20160331_093128-01[1]

After you enter the gates, you can see a whole street with food stalls. The food stalls ranged from sweet to savoury. 20160331_113501-01[1]20160331_104130-01[1]20160331_103723-01[1]20160331_110453-01[1]20160331_110537-01[1]20160331_111525-01[1]20160331_114822-01[1]20160331_115551-01[1]

Sakura made it more magical on our visit! From every corner you walk, you see those different colors in bloom. Some were white others were pink. But well, they’re just too lovely! 20160331_093239-01[1]20160331_093222-01[1]20160331_095754-01[1]

Hanami. 🙂

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HOW TO GET THERE:

This link may help you if you are traveling from Jr Namba Station.

http://www.rome2rio.com/s/Jr-Namba/Osaka-Castle

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Stylishwanderer.com

 

 

 

Why I Fell In Love With JAPAN

I was fascinated with Japan back when I was in College. The culture, people & food captivated me. As I recall, I even wanted to take up International Studies Major in Japanese Language and Literature, haha that’s how I’m enthralled over this country but then again I ended up with the famous course in town, Nursing. Yes, a distinct fact. lol.

Backtrack 2011, I was a full time Nurse and a part time online English Teacher for Japanese thru skype video call. Even if I get too tired working in the hospital, I still enjoyed every conversation I had with my Japanese students. As they were learning from me, I also learn from them. And there grew my love for this country even more.

So finally! My first time going to Japan! Like finally!
(You surely have an idea how excited I am) Yay!

Indeed, it was a life-long dream to experience and explore Japan and it lived up to all my expectations. Japan has fantastic food, beautiful temples and shrines, zen gardens, national parks, and a culture with long and rich history. Bonus part is, I went during Spring. Oh Yes Sakura! Those lovely sakura, so delicate and marvelously formed. Such a delight to be walking under a canopy of Cherry Blossoms. Japan is without a doubt a wonderful place and, while it may be an expensive country to visit, there are plenty of ways to make this country affordable.

There will be a series of post about my very first trip to Japan and the trip covers OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. 🙂

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Stylishwanderer.com

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