Day 13: Nara: Kofuku-ji, Five-storied Pagoda, The Fifty-two steps, Sarusawa Lake, Nara Park, Todaiji, Himuro Shrine, Nandaimon Gate
We spent our 13th day in Nara — an hour’s train ride from central Osaka. It was mainly Ander’s mom and I who wanted to see the infamous Nara deer. I squeed like a kid when we saw some deer just walking around the moment we stepped out the train station.
A short walk from the station is the five-storied pagoda, another famous Nara landmark.
We passed by Sarusawa Lake on our way to Nara Park. These are all walking distances from each other, fyi. The weather was still chilly so walking around was no sweat (no pun intended).
Ander and I fell in love with the laidback vibe in Nara as much as we loved Kyoto. I know I said we’re city people but perhaps this is a sign we’re getting old. Heh.
All these herds of deer greeted us in Nara Park. They were absolutely adorable! I was able to experience feeding a few of them with deer crackers I purchased from the front stand.
I have a legitimate concern about them, though, and it still bothers me to this day. While they didn’t look one bit malnourished, the crackers looked nothing more than a bland, airy wafer and I wonder if the deer are healthy at all. They have even, probably over generations, learned how to bow to tourists in exchange for food. But I noticed they get overly belligerent when you stop feeding them. Are they being fed proper meals when the flock of tourists (me included) have gone? Poor little things. Makes me sad, really.
Across Nara Park is Himuro Shrine. There were a few varieties of sakura trees in the area.
Even the fallen petals are a beauty on their own.
Day 13 expenses:
Train/subway fare: P1,008
Deer food: P135
Day 14: Kema Sakuranomiya, Dotonbori
This marks our 2nd week in Japan. This is our last full day and I saved (one of) the best for last: Kema Sakuranomiya Park.
We passed by a playground where we helped a very kind ojiisan hang some lanterns.
Kema Sakuranomiya Park is often overlooked by tourists but it is one of the best sakura viewing spots in Osaka.
Despite the park being lined with sakura trees which looked like massive tufts of baby pink-colored cotton, there were no more than 20 people when we arrived. They were all locals — mostly grandmothers and grandfathers taking walks.
We had most areas of the park to ourselves, and oh boy, did we take TONS of photos and footage.
Since the sakura were already fully bloomed by this time, even the slightest breeze would send their petals falling. I was in sakura heaven.
We were back in Dotonbori for our last night.
We were really craving Ichiran but were always put off by long lines. I don’t think I have ever waited in line for more than an hour for food. Thankfully, we stumbled upon a lesser-frequented branch within Dotonbori. No queues!
Day 14 expenses:
Train/subway fare: P414
Day 15: Kansai International Airport and flight back to Manila
It’s our last day! We checked out of our hotel at around 11 in the morning and took the Rapi:t (pronounced Rapid) Airport Express to Kansai Airport from Namba station. It is a bit more expensive than the regular Airport Express service because the Rapi:t Airport Express train does not make as many stops. Also all seats are reserved, so it does not get crowded! We paid 1,430 yen (around P643) each for the “Super Seats.” It was spacious and comfy. It took us around 35 minutes to reach Kansai Airport.
Our flight was at 8:40 PM so we had plenty of time to dilly-dally around the airport. We ended up paying to use the KIX Lounge after grabbing lunch and coffee.
Time passed by pretty quickly. We did some last-minute shopping after we checked in.
We were back in Manila at around 12AM.
Day 15 expenses:
Train/subway fare: P1,476
KIX Lounge: P2,403
That sums up our 15-day Spring trip to Japan! Before anything else, let’s take a look at the total cost for the two of us.
TERMINAL FEE: P3,240
ACCOMMODATION IN TOKYO: P18,435
ACCOMMODATION IN OSAKA: P16,737
BULLET TRAIN FROM TOKYO TO OSAKA: P13,723
DAILY EXPENSES FOR 15 DAYS (WITH SHOPPING): P60,644 / WITHOUT SHOPPING: P45,508
TOTAL: P154,649, P139,513 without shopping
So that translates to around P70,000-77,000 per person — all-in. I think it’s not bad at all! Let me just reiterate that while this isn’t exactly a budget trip, it wasn’t luxurious either. I know we still could have saved a lot with just the airfare alone, BUT there were also a few times where our meals would be paid for by Ander’s mom. I didn’t include those in the list of expenses, so I can say that in that aspect, this could have been slightly more costly for us. Some nights we only had bento meals from supermarkets or nearby shops for dinner. Not that it was bad of course. Pre-made meals still cost around P300-P500 each. It all really depends on what kind of traveler you are and if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. I don’t mind not eating at famous/pricey restaurants from time to time, as long as the food suits our tastes, it’s a go for me. We don’t travel to impress, after all. The fact that Ander and I both have been to Japan many times before also kind of took away the initial excitement and we weren’t really trigger-happy when it comes to buying souvenirs and stuff since everything has become familiar (for me especially) at this point.
Also, this trip’s itinerary was greatly influenced by the fact that we had Ander’s mom and her friend with us. There were a lot if limitations and things Ander and I had to consider. Ander’s mom originally wanted to stay longer, but her friend was only granted a 15-day Visa since it was her first time traveling to Japan. Japan has been lenient recently and you are almost assured of getting a multiple-entry Visa as long as you’ve been to Japan before, and you meet the qualifications. Here are a few Japan Visa related guides to check out if you are a Philippine passport holder:
- COMPLETE GUIDE: JAPAN TOURIST VISA APPLICATION FOR PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDERS
- TIPS ON GETTING A MULTIPLE ENTRY JAPAN VISA FOR FILIPINO TOURISTS
We had a wonderful time in Japan. Sakura season is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit, albeit the number of tourists. It’s all worth it. I will try to write what would have been our spring itinerary if it was just the two of us if I get the time. I’ll be going back to Japan in August and I might write about that in the future too. Thanks for reading! Xx