A weekend in Tokyo is such a treat. This is a city of contrasts that collide beautifully together: sprawling skyscrapers sit side by side with ancient shrines, historic parklands blend into a backdrop of futuristic architecture and cutting-edge technology works in harmony with traditional customs. Discovering Japan’s capital can take years, but with a weekend to spare, start with the highlights.
Japanese cuisine is very popular throughout the world. As an island nation surrounded by the ocean, it’s widely known for its seafood. Aside from the freshness and high quality of food, what I like the most about Japan is how beautiful everything, including their food, is presented. No matter how many elements there are in a dish, everything always looks so neat and organized. Japanese food really reflects the culture.
For movie and pop culture buffs, Universal Studios Theme Park is one of the top attractions where you can enjoy rides inspired by Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons and video games produced by Universal Studios. This world-class theme park transports you right inside your all-time-favorite flicks like Jurassic Park, Waterworld and JAWS.
Jurassic Park’s The Flying Dinosaur. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Japan
Most Filipino travelers have Japan high on their bucketlists. But most of us have this perception that traveling there is too expensive. Generally, the cost of living is higher than popular Southeast Asian countries on the backpacking trail like Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam.
But Japan is such a worthwhile destination in terms of natural landscapes, rich traditional culture, and world class technology. It’s amazing how efficient and clean everything is. Like traveling to any destination, there are always ways you can cut down on costs. Last year, I got to visit Nagoya and I just recently came back from visiting sights around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara in the Kansai Region. Here are a few tips I can share that will hopefully help Filipino travelers plan their dream trip to The Land of the Rising Sun.
TIP: 100 USD is roughly 10,000 yen. If you want to convert yen to pesos, the general rule of thumb is to divide the amount in half. For instance, anything that costs 1000 Yen is roughly 500 pesos. Continue reading
As a huge fan of J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and the blockbuster film series based on the books, visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a dream come true. This themed area within Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was a major highlight of my recent trip around Osaka and the Kansai region upon the invitation of Cebu Pacific & USJ. Flying along with Harry, Hermione and Ron in the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts Castle, walking along the shops in Hogsmeade and drinking Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks was just amazing!
“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good!”
Some people collect ref magnets or mugs when they travel. I collect beer. Or at least I try to drink as many variants of unique beer as possible when I travel to a different country. Though Japan is really known more for sake (rice wine), I was glad to be able to add a few new ones to my beer collection during our trip around Nagoya, Takayama, Gamagori and Gujo Hachiman with Cebu Pacific.
There are 4 major beer producers in Japan: Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory, who produce mostly easy to drink pale-colored light lagers with an alcohol strength of around 5.0%. While some of these beers are widely available internationally including here in the Philippines, it’s always nice to pair a great Japanese meal with the local brew. Here’s a look at of some of the beers we tried and the delicious meals we consumed them with. Continue reading
If the UNESCO World Heritage site Shirakawa-go is the starting village or hero’s hometown in a classic video role-playing game, Takayama is the peaceful yet bustling trading town you go to when you want to upgrade your gear and buy all the rare items.
Takayama is a city in the mountainous region of the Gifu Prefecture, about 2 hours away from Nagoya, Japan. It is home to a beautifully preserved Old Town with buildings and whole streets of houses that date back to the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city still thrived as a wealthy town of merchants.
The streets were buzzing with the chatter of locals and tourists alike admiring the ceremonial yatai – ornate wooden structures that display traditional Japanese craftsmanship. It was hard not to get overwhelmed as we walked along the streets of Takayama, a city in the mountainous Hida region, roughly two hours away from Nagoya, Japan. Our visit coincided with the Takayama Autumn Festival, so the streets were extra lively.
The crisp morning air, the aroma of fresh meat and seafood sizzling on hibachi grills and the naturally beautiful backdrop of the old town’s streets put everyone in a festive mood. Continue reading
Many role-playing video games start out in a remote place hidden deep in the mountains. The hero’s home town is often depicted as a rustic village full of wooden houses with thatched roofs. Outside each house, you pass rice fields surrounded by rivers, perfectly landscaped gardens and trees with fruits ripe for the picking. Okami, which is one of my favorite video games of all time, has all these elements of the classical Japanese countryside.
Walking through the streets of Shirakawa-go felt like I was transported into a fantasy world right out of a video game.