Monday, April 15, 2019

Japaning: Japan Visa, JR Pass, Disneyland and Disneysea, pocket wifi

I want to share with you our recent trip to Japan in a nutshell. Prior to our trip, we applied our Japan visa in Dubai, UAE. Although Japan recently announced that they have relaxed the visa rules for Filipinos, it would still be better to be ready. Below are the requirements:
  1. Original passport / copy
  2. UAE residence copy. I read somewhere that Japan consulate will require the visa to be valid for more than 6 months. This is not true for us. My daughter's visa was about to expire in May 2019 but we were still able to get her the Japan visa last February 2019 and our travel schedule was first week of April. She is 9 years and a student of Dubai, UAE. My visa is expiring in August but I also got my Japan visa without issue
  3. Japan visa application form. You may opt to get it from their website where you can fill-out the details online but make sure all your details are correct as you cannot save it. You have to print it right after you completed the required information. Otherwise, the application form is also available in the Japan consulate and hand write the details.
  4. recent photo. You can get the required photo size in Japan website and ask assistance from the photo studio as well
  5. Confirmed flight booking. I don't do dummy tickets. I always booked and paid in advance
  6. Bank Statement. We have our funds in our bank account, although it was not mentioned if they require a specific amount, I believe that as long as you will be able to fund your travel, you should be fine
  7. Certificate of Employment. Far-ouT and I have separate certificate of employment from our respective company, mentioning our monthly salary and no objection of our travel
  8. Travel itinerary.  The sample is in the website. You must indicate the name, address and the contact details of your accommodation

I also printed our accommodation booking (I booked from, our bank account in the Philippines and our travel insurance. The print-outs were returned to us though but have it ready just in case. 

Make sure not to staple your documents. This was a mistake from my side as I want our documents to be organize. When we were already in the window, the one assigned to us asked us to remove all the staple wires. It was just a waste of some time. 

Be ready to answer some questions. Unlike our UK visa and Schengen visa application, we had a mini interview. As Far-ouT was our main applicant, all questions were directed to him, questions like;
  1. How long have you been in the UAE?
  2. What are the places you want to visit in Japan?
  3. What do you want to eat in Japan?
  4. Where do plan to do your shopping?
Far-ouT answered all questions without too much information, just straightforward answers. After a while, we were given a receipt indicating the date and time on when we can collect our passport back.

We submitted our application on 14 February and was requested to come back on 19 February. By the way, visa application for Filipinos is free.

After 5 days processing, our passport were returned with our stamped Japan visa. 

As for the accommodation booking, I booked this in advance. Our travel dates was cherry blossom seasons so we were expecting that hotels and other accommodation were limited at this time of year. The only issue I had with my bookings was that, they collected the full amount from my credit card in advance. This is the first time I chose hotel apartments over hotels so I am not familiar of this rules. So to give you an idea of the fees during this time:

Tokyo hotel-apartment accommodation for 4 days: AED 2,380.95 (plus bank fees)
Kyoto hotel apartment accommodation for 3 days: AED 2,080.95 (plus bank fees)

The place I booked fit the 4 of us. I am not really concerned of accommodations, since we are out most of the time. Comfortable bed, clean bathroom and a small place for our luggages are fine for us. Nevertheless, the place I booked have washing machine, stove, iron and balcony to hang clothes so its a plus for me. We were able to cook and wash clothes during our stay.  

As I have mentioned previously, I don't do dummy tickets. It's a risk I have to take but I'd rather be honest about it. I booked Thai Airways for our flight to Narita Airport with just an hour layover in Thailand. Our tickets from Dubai to Narita airport was AED 11,740.00 plus travel insurance of AED 235.00. Tickets were really getting expensive already but glad I chose Thai Airways. 

Also, we bought the Japan Rail Pass in Al Futtaim travel. You may order this online form their website ( but comparing the prices, it was still cheaper to buy from here. Klook does not courier to Dubai, UAE. 

Ordinary JR Pass Adult (7 days): AED 981.00
Ordinary JR pass child (7 days): AED 490.00
child less than 4 years old: free

I would recommend you to purchase the JR Pass, it was so convenient for us to use. We don't need to line in the counter to buy tickets and we don't need to line to insert any train tickets as there are designated counters in all JR pass routes, all we had to do was to show our pass.

It may seem expensive at first but it was the most economical means of travelling around Japan especially our bullet train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. The Hikari Shinkansen round trip ticket was the equivalent of the JR pass amount but we were still able to use it in other train rides in Tokyo and Kyoto. And when you are not familiar with the quite complicated Japan trains, you don't have to pay extra. It's really an unlimited pass. There are some subways that was not covered by the JR pass but from our experience, it was minimal amount to pay. This is not available in Japan. You need to buy it from  abroad and is only for foreign tourist.  

So Al Futtaim issued the receipt of the JR pass.

Also, I just found out when we were about to buy the pass that little boy needs to be endorsed on the pass, so I would really recommend you to buy it from accredited partners in Dubai, UAE (I believe there are only two (2) accredited travel agencies who are authorized to sell the JR pass).

Note that the these are not the actual pass as yet. When you arrive in the airport, you need to look for the JR office and exchange this with the pass. For your convenient, also inform them when you want the JR pass to be activated. Make sure to count the 7 or 14 days accordingly. The pass will end midnight of your scheduled date

So this is the actual pass:

Dont fret, you will see other foreigners just raising their pass at the counter when it time to use it.

I also bought our Disneyland and Disneysea ticket in advance, The 2-day pass is AED 1,194.18. I actually regret doing this especially when you are with children. I was concerned we will be denied of entry since it was Spring season and there will be a lot of people going to the most magical place on earth. 

But then again, I was not able to take into account that unforeseen event may happen. On our scheduled date to visit Disneyland, I was planning to arrive 1 hour before opening so we may maximize our stay and get the fast pass tickets but the kids were all tired from the flight and all the walking, we end up waking up late. Also, we missed to change our Dollars to Yen from the airport so we needed to find a money exchange but most of it where opened between 9:00 - 10:00 AM so we end wasting already half of our day looking for one only to find out that there are available money exchange houses inside the Disneyland. 

We arrived in Disneyland around 11:00AM already but anyway, we were still able to enjoy most of it, riding the Monster Inc. and eating, buying souvenirs. Please try the popcorn! It was a blast!

The little boy though caught a fever. He was not feeling well already but finally got the fever on our third day. The kids woke up late again the following day and missing our Disneysea. Wasting our money on pre-paid tickets that weren't refundable and are fixed dates. But anyways, charge this to our experience. 

The last but definitely not the least, get a pocket wifi. I got one from klook, I booked it for 8 days for AED 214.17. It was such a big help especially when finding your location. The wifi was very reliable and google maps was very helpful. Make sure to collect the pocket wifi from the airport and drop it again at the airport before you leave.

By the way, the cash on hand was about AED 6000 for 8 days for food and other expenses for 2 adults and 2 kids.

That's about it. I hope this helps!

Much love,


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