This was a trip to welcome 2017 and we landed/departed in/from Tokyo Narita.
We preferred the airport bus transportation mode because there was no need to do any train transfers, carrying luggage up/down the stairs/escalators and pushing the way through commuters.
Prior to our trips, I would checked the options of getting day passes for subway/buses and if our planned activities transportation costs will exceed the day passes.
The way or the manner in how I plan will depends on the following: types of airlines, arrival airport, flight timing, accommodation place, airport buses timing and etc.
As I have been to Japan over the last ten years, there is no need for me to blog on everything. Otherwise, I may not be able to complete this post. The first step is difficult and I have taken the first step.
I am sure many of you know about the JR pass eg. 7 days JR pass. I always have no chance to use it. This is not because I do not travel to many places in Japan. It is because in order to maximize the cost-effectiveness, I will have to travel to more places in a short span of time. On the other hand, there are so many cheaper alternatives to travel. So there is no reason why a JR pass will be useful to me.
Alright, enough of my personal view. Let’s get things done fast.
We bought the airport limousine bus package which consisted of a round trip airport bus ticket and 3 consecutive days for Tokyo subway. Then we took the airport bus to Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal because we had an overnight bus to Osaka at this bus terminal.
As we had landed early, we had 10 over hours to spend in Tokyo. In Japan, many types of storage lockers for luggage were easily available. So we wanted to store it at the bus terminal and board the bus directly. The self-automated lockers were mostly unavailable but as always, there was a plan B. The Tokyo Tourist Info Center was on the same level of the bus terminal, which was at level 3. This center closed at 11pm so we had to come back early. Our bus departing to Osaka Namba OCAT was at 11.45pm so it was alright.
winter illumination at shinjuku – they look like sakura trees
> I will skip the details on what we did in Tokyo because I want to focus on the overnight bus to Osaka which costs us 10500yen single seat configuration. I bought the instant when the tickets were available online because it was the peak season.
There are many different types of overnight buses available so take your time and choose the bus you need. For me, I look at the departure/arrival timing, types of buses, types of seats, departure/arrival point and price.
Throughout the 8 hours journey, there were 3 toilet breaks and you have your own charging point, curtains to create your personal space and blanket and the ride was so smooth. There were 2 bus drivers and they took turn to drive the bus.
Toilet breaks was awesome! Clean and hi-tech toilets. I thought they were karaoke room in the first place.
So in order to minimize walking and spending on unnecessary transportation, I made the choice to arrival at Shinjuku Bus Terminal so that we could just walked over to the Tokyo Hotel whereby we would be staying towards the last leg of our journey; to safekeep one of our trolley luggage and send our amazon/rakuten packages to the hotel reception.
I sent all these to hotel so that I could checked-them in. Of course you can get them at Narita DFS tax-free but not all are available and you need to hand carry. In any case, there is hardly any price difference and shipping from amazon/rakuten is free. Amazon can send to convenience store which means you can collect it from eg. lawson if you do not have a local address.
Then, we spent our time in Shinjuku area and went back to the bus terminal to board our overnight bus. Since we would be arriving in Osaka OCAT, we found an airbnb in Namba area which was nearby Dotonbori. This airbnb saved us $300 because it was the New Year peak season. I understood how airbnb works because I have been using their services for some time. The largest factor in getting a good experience is all about the airbnb host. So if all else fails, I will just book another place or hotel. The backup plan was to stay in this hotel nearby OCAT and it would cost $300 more than what we have paid for our airbnb in this peak period.
Airbnb host had rules so we respected that. Once we arrived at OCAT, we walked over to JR Namba East Exit at Osaka Takashimaya which was the nearest to our airbnb, found a storage locker and stored out stuff. We could not checked-in until 4pm in the afternoon and it was not a big deal.
So we just went ahead of our sight-seeing within Osaka. There were many types of transport passes in Osaka and the most suitable for us on this trip was: 2 days Osaka Amazing pass. Even if we did not do most of the activities on the Osaka Amazing Pass, our transportation costs would exceeded the price of the amazing pass. As for the other days in Osaka, we would just used the ICOCA pass which worked the same as PASMO/SUICA in Tokyo.
I will emphasize on the time before you can buy your tickets online eg. disneyland tickets. So I will buy it at disney store at takashimaya tokyo. I did try to find discounted tickets but there is no such tickets for disney. However, there is discounted tickets for sanrio puroland at those discounted tickets shops nearby shinjuku station. Many years later, you can buy all types of tickets online, receive e-ticket, print it and proceed to entry.
This is a good way for me to use those credit cards with cashback and I get to save some money. At the same time, I also feel more secure because I have book/buy my ticket before I land. I also can pay for most of my expenses and have more cash to pay for other stuff. There is this website which I always use to buy my attraction tickets and with the referral fee, I get to save even more. (link)
Back to our trip, I will skip most of it until I insert some photos.
Here is a run-down:
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, take overnight bus to Osaka
Day 2: Arrive in Osaka OCAT, Osaka Castle Aqua-liner, Shinsaibashi, Amerika-Mura, Tsutenkaku Tower, check-in airbnb, Matsuzaka Beef at Yakiniku M.Hosenji, Tomburi River cruise, Abeno Harukas, Dontonbori
Day 3: Umeda Sky building, HEP Five ferris wheel, Umeda Pokemon Center, Shitenmoji Temple, Kuromon seafood market, Den-Den town, Tenjinbashisuji shopping arcade, Miyukimori Shrine Korean town (optional), Sengoku The Real (show at Osaka castle), Dontonbori, countdown at Kitamido Temple, walk back to JR Namba
For Day 2 & 3, we used the 2 days Osaka Amazing Pass. As I am looking at my itinerary while writing this post, my total costs for activites and transportation for 2 days is approx 8000yen but the 2 days pass only costs 3000yen. So it was a good deal. As I have mention before, there are too many transportation tickets to buy so you need to work out the sum in order to find the most ideal pass.
Day 4: Namba Yasaka Shrine, Sumiyoshitaisha Shrine, Rinku Premium Outlet, Osaka Prefectural Flower Garden
note that day 4 was 1 January 2017 so many shrines were crowded and many shopping places were closed. we went to Rinku Premium Outlet because it was New Year Day and lucky bags were for sale. I planned it this way because I wanted to buy lucky bags aka fukubukuro because it was a great deal!
Before I had planned to visit Osaka Prefectural Flower Garden at night, I checked the transport timing. This garden had some awesome winter illumination and in order to go, we would need to take the JR to Mikkaichicho station, changed to a local bus and walked about 10 mins. It was not a big issue but on the way back, the local bus were out-of-service so we had to walk to Mikkaichicho station approx 30mins. This was not a big issue to us but it was winter and the wind-chill factor was a concern. We can prepared ourselves with proper clothing but there was no urgency to visit the garden and suffered later. I was also not sure about getting a taxi because taxi might not be available and I also did not want to drive there. So we just stayed put at dontonburi and it was fun because there was so many things to eat and shop.
The Japanese use solar calendar so beside New Year, they also welcomed Year of Rooster even though the lunar calendar for CNY was later.
Day 5: USJ
from JR Namba, we walked to JR Osaka Namba station and alighted at Nishikijo Station to make transfer and arrived at Universal City Station
Day 6: checked-out Osaka airbnb and took local train to Kyoto station, deposited our luggage at hotel and went sightseeing, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Tenryuji Temple, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Yasaka shrine, kyoto station to check in. we skipped Gion which was planned for the night
Day 7: walked to Nishiki Market then to kimono rental shop, we had a kimono outdoor photoshoot at Gion then it was an overnight bus back to Tokyo. The bus boarding point if just right outside the hotel we stayed in kyoto. So we just deposited our luggage with them and came back at night to wash up and collected our luggage.
> The overnight bus back to Tokyo costs us 6630yen single seat configuration. I bought the instant when the tickets were available online because it was the peak season. This bus type had early bird price.
Day 8/9/10: we used the 3 days consecutive Tokyo subway pass here. I will skip on this part.
On our day of departure, we had to be at the airport by 9am so we had to leave the hotel by 8am. But the airport bus was at 7.20am so we took this timing and the boarding point was just right outside the hotel lobby.
usually I will stay at the apartment behind this hotel and if I have a morning flight, I will board at this hotel or if I have more time and NEX is cheap, I will take NEX else any airport bus will do. Usually when I take NEX, it will means I do not have many luggage. I can use the forwarding service but I did not.
Now I will try to add in the photos so that I can continue to blog on the Hokkaido trip.
You can read it here (link).