It is my first time to experience snowfall in the month of February, as we are living in central Japan, we only have those 2-3 days of snowfall for the whole winter season. I thought that after the January snow, spring would welcome me with its cherry blossoms but February gave me another chance to see the pristine landscape of the countryside of Japan! So I headed out to the park and made a new friend~
So here’s the thing: the purpose of the 2-day trip in Osaka is to attend the Hi-touch and Fanmeet alone, all by myself. But at the (not so) last minute, my mother tagged along. The day before the trip, I constantly asked her if she’s on board with my plan. I hoped she didn’t regret her decision.
I think mom tagging along with me puts her into a disadvantage. While I am enjoying myself with my beloved boy group, she’ll be bored waiting for me. Besides, I didn’t want to bother anyone to chaperone me in this journey because I figured solo backpacking is full of adventures and misfortunes -which makes the travel fulfilling. After confirming my booking in the hotel, I was surprised when my mom decided to come with me. I haven’t actually planned for an itinerary because I’m sure going to the event will take up most of my time.
Fortunately, on the first day, as the hi-touch ended, my mom and I had a great time walking around the streets of Dotonbori after the tedious walkathon earlier that morning as we got lost tracking down the apartment we’re staying at. I booked the place because the host is a Filipina. Thank goodness the host allowed us to drop our baggage 6 hours earlier the check-in time (Salamat ate!). Although the accommodation price is quite high, having someone who we can contact comfortably regarding the lodging is satisfactory.
Upon arriving at the Ebisubashi, we took a handful of photos of the famous Glico man board, the iconic moving crab at Kani Douraku and the remarkable Pablo Cheesecake specialty shop:
On the second day, we carried our luggage with us as we traveled from the apartment to Grand Cube – where the fan meeting will be held by the same boy band I hi-touched with on the previous day. I was surprised that there was already a lengthy queue outside the venue despite the harsh cold weather. Since there is already a seating plan indicated on the ticket I didn’t mind resting somewhere warm and comfortable. We decided to grab some breakfast on the second floor which has a cafe on it. After waiting some time I went down to fall in line. The queue slowly moved from the entrance up to the fifth floor. Upon arriving at the hall, there was a crowd of fans going to and fro buying official merchandise, taking photos of the standees and writing questions for the boys. I squeezed my way into the crowd and proceeded directly to the auditorium after taking pictures of the standees (obligatory photo souvenirs because they’re too cute!)
During the fan meeting, the band’s fanservice and witty spiels gave us some laughs and butterflies. Their performance got us fired up until the end as we danced along their songs. It was my first time meeting the band and I’m glad attended the 2-day event.The event was overall great. Every single penny is worth it.
First shrine/temple visits in Japan to celebrate the New Year is called Hatsumode. The locals visit and offer prayers, draw their luck with omikuji (fortune-telling paper strips), or wish for good luck by writing hopes and desires in a wooden charm called ema.
Want to make the best of your trip to Tokyo? This post might help you spend less than what you expect. While Tokyo was once dubbed as one of the top cities with a high cost of living, we can never deny that traveling there may exhaust our budget and come home with an empty pocket.
Here are the things to consider for a perfect budget travel:
1. Traveling within Japan
- Local Bus : Japan Bus Line | Willer Express
- If you are away from the airport access, traveling through the local bus is the best choice. The downside of this option is you have to sit for a long period of time (to prevent this always get out of the bus on every stops).
- Shinkansen: Japanican
- Shinkansen ticket prices are known to be expensive as it obviously gets you faster to your destination, but Japanican’s website displays discounts for a trip with the shinkansen and hotel combined.
- Plane: Jetstar
- Jetstar has always been our choice when going to Kyushu. It is one of the airlines with the cheapest airfare within Japan destinations.
2. Traveling from another country
- Cheap Flights / Promo Seats
- Your local airlines may offer flight promos, so be sure to subscribe to them for promo alerts or regularly check their website for discounts!
- JR Pass
- After arriving in Japan, the JR Pass offers discounted tickets or unlimited rides for foreigners passport holders and/or temporary visitors.
Getting train passes for your travel will save you from the hassle of buying tickets in the station’s ticket machine. Just keep in mind not to travel during rush hours because you will be completely stuck inside the train.
- Recommending this to you because I have already booked three times here and everything went smoothly. Just remember to print the pdf after checking your reservation details as it will serve as your entry ticket to the hotel.
- I booked here once when my mom and I traveled to Osaka. It was a fair agreement as I was able to ask the host if we could check-in for as early as 10am. She is cool about it because she is a fellow Filipino. Before deciding to book, look for reviews, the total cost of your stay, and contact the host to make sure your stay will be as comfortable as you expect it to be. (Get $31 to travel on Airbnb!)
- What I read about Couchsurfing is it is completely free, but of course you need to return the favor of letting you stay in their place. If you’re willing to meet nomadic people like you then give Couchsurfing a try! (Make sure to do safety measurements first before contacting the host, although the stay it’s free, it can never guarantee your safety.)
Things to ask when booking a hotel:
- Is it near the train stations?
- Staying near the Yamanote loop line is probably the most convenient because the line stops at some of the most famous spots in Tokyo – Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, etc. Also, if you miss your station, you can just continue riding on the loop until you arrive again at your destination! (It’s time-consuming though).
- Are there convenient stores/ restaurants around or inside the hotel?
- Some hotels will have restaurants inside, it may be a little bit pricey so you can resort to convenience stores or cheap dining around.
- Is it quiet during nighttime?
- If you want a livelier atmosphere at night, stay around Shinjuku. Otherwise, it is best to stay in Ueno for a calm, relaxing nightlife.
- Is it safe?
- Make sure to stay away from suspicious areas. Reading the hotels reviews will inform you about the safety of the area.
- Can the host/ staff understand English?
- Considering that you will stay in Tokyo, most hotel staff may be able to communicate with you in simple English.
The best experience in traveling is when you taste the local specialty foods. You can ask the hotel staff where the famous local restaurants are.
My Travel Expense
When I traveled to Tokyo, I stayed in Oak Hotel which is located in Ueno. The hotel is well-situated because it is very close to the convenience stores, a few restaurants can be reached within short distance. Ueno is a complete opposite of Asakusa even though the two cities are adjacent. The area is very peaceful at night, businessmen walk their way towards home, a few tourists would commute on their way back to their hotels.
Here’s my estimated breakdown for 2-days & 1-night stay:
|Dinner(Onigiri + drinks)||￥500|
|Train from Shinjuku to Ueno(and vice versa)||￥400|
|Train from Ueno to Asakusa(and vice versa)||￥350|
It was a long struggle of contemplation whether to attend GOT7’s fan meet or not. Buying a ticket is easy, but it got difficult when the one I plan to buy is being sold at a Japanese website. But I missed a lot of their events already so I thought there’s no holding back to this, I’m going to the fan meet expecting every difficulty I am about to face.
Finally, I managed to bid for the ticket. And as if the universe is conspiring against me, I realized it was for the live viewing event, I got the wrong ticket! I was panicking, of course, because the site states that only the seller has the power to cancel any transactions. I’m doomed I thought. But I decided to buy another ticket again, this time, I double-checked everything. I successfully got one!
When the mail arrived containing tickets, I plan to sell the live viewing ticket. As I opened the packet, three cards fell. I recognize that those cards are for the hi-touch event. Instead of going to the fan meet only, I decided to attend the hi-touch too.
Two days before the trip and my plan is all set. I was able to reserve for a place to stay through Airbnb. I also got my shinkansen tickets from the nearest station. This is it, I’m going alone, my first time to be with nobody but myself. A great opportunity for another self-discovery, I thought. But before I started packing my things, it just happened that my mom decided to tag along. I asked my mom if she’s serious about going with me, knowing that my purpose for this travel is for the hi-touch and fan meeting. I’m surprised she’s cool with it.
I was planning to meet another IGOT7 / Ahgase (wordplay of IGOT7 written in Korean) before the hi-touch starts. We were actually supposed to meet in Sakuragawa, but my mom and I got lost trying to find the apartment and I was running late so we decided to meet at Intex Osaka. Thankfully it is easy to spot her, because of her being the only westerner at that time. I was relieved to find someone who I could talk to during the hi-touch since the majority of the fans there speak Japanese and I’m not yet comfortable with my Nihongo ><.
Then finally, the hi-touch began, I saw GOT7 climbing up the stage. Is it real? I thought. I’m so happy I can see them after a long time of stanning the group. There they are, standing confidently and happily while greeting their fans. I feel like I’m on top of the world now that I saw Jackson Wang, who has been my source of happiness during my stressful college years. I couldn’t help but stare at his physique, wondering how tall he might be, since he is always comparing his height to Bam’s. I thought of what I should say the moment I high-five him, but all of it went down the drain, I couldn’t speak to him, all I did was touch his hand and admire the perfect creature before me. OMG he’s drop-dead gorgeous, his eyes are sparkling while smiling! I wish we could’ve stared at each other for long.
After a while, they took a break, we waited again in line and once again I thought about saying something to him. They appeared on stage, this time he was playful, he jumped off the stage and proceeded to the booth to start the hi-touch.
The line started moving, and it was my turn to hi-touch him but all I could do is smile at him and appreciate his striking existence. I am so lucky to see and high-five him twice.
The day of the fan meet. After arriving at the venue (Grand Cube Osaka) early morning, there was already a lengthy queue for the fan meet. My mom and I decided to stay at a cafe on the second floor. At 12nn they started letting fans in the 5th floor, so I got in line and entered the hall.
Upon entering, the reception hall is cramped with fans falling in line to buy some merchandise or taking pictures of GOT7’s cardboard cutouts. I proceeded directly to the standees with GOT7 dressing as fox / rabbit which is sooo cute!
Since there is not enough time to buy some merchandise, I quickly went inside the event hall and looked for my seat. CG16. It was near the aisle, I got a good seat although the stage is a bit far. My seatmate was a fanboy, he was so cute taking pictures here and there! He also brought a member’s plushie!
The event started and the ahgabongs (Got7’s Official Lightstick) lit up the auditorium, it was so spectacular, I wish I had one with me too ><. They performed almost all of their Japanese songs, plus the Hard Carry omg it was breath-taking to see them perform live! Their dancing and singing are flawless!
Throughout the fan meet, I was staring mostly to Jackson, his voice is so captivating I hope he receives more lines in the future! On the last part when he had his cap on, I couldn’t clearly see his face, I hope he lets us see his flawless look more in their upcoming schedules.
I feel so ecstatic until now and I am missing them already. I hope I will be able to attend next year’s event too! I made the right decision to travel all the way just to meet them ❤.
Thank you for reminding me what butterflies feel like ❤
What’s not to miss during the trip to Takayama is the open-air museum located west of the train station, Hida Folk Village (Hida no sato). Because of the vast space of this exhibit, it is quite isolated from the other sightseeing places around Takayama. Albeit being secluded from the main attractions in Takayama, Hida No Sato boasts the replicas of the village head’s house, huts, storehouses and farmhouses during the Edo Period.
The entire village is open for exploration and over 30 well-preserved cultural structures are scattered around the village.
The main houses across the Goami Pond (Goami-ike) near the entrance.
Koi Fishes and Ducks in the Goami Pond (You can feed them for 50 yen!)
Aside from the picturesque landscape the village offers, visitors can try some of the classic Japanese outdoor games (I wasn’t able to try all of those though because I was already distracted with my original plan: take a lot of instagram-worthy photos! -I semi-failed with this though ><)
The gassho-zukuri houses (hands joined in prayer) unique with its thatched and steep roof.
Another type of house during the Edo Period uses a Kurebuki roof which, just like the thatched roof, can sustain the heavy amount of snowfall.
Sitting next to Hozumi’s house, the sight of this huge bell intrigued me of its purpose. The bell was supposed to grant wishes to anyone who followed the instructions written in front of the wooden fence: First is to make a bow, then Strike the bell once and finally make a wish during the echo. Despite my exposure to the rituals in the temple/shrines where bells are also rung, this significant artifact definitely piqued my interest as it echoed throughout the village.
Moving further inside the village, we found a wood crafting house. Aside from the woodcrafting house, the neighbor houses also have its own crafting specialty, too bad we aren’t able to try because nobody was tending the area. Nevertheless the woodcrafter’s sole existence in the world of arts and crafts satisfied us.
The woodcrafter demonstrated his skills when we arrived in his niche. Inisde his abode are several masks made from wood, keychains, home decor, etc. Glad I was able to buy the cute little cat as a way to support the artisan.