Home Our Lives Our Travels Advertise/PR 50 by 50 Home Image Map

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Final Words On Japan

Well,  I've finally shared all of our Japan vacation with you guys. I have had the best time reliving our vacation these last couple of months. Japan was our first international trip since becoming expats, and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect place to start our wanderlust adventures. 

While I have shared every place Matt and I were able to visit on our four day trip, there are still some things I wanted to mention. I want to talk about the random things that happen while you are on vacation. You know- finding ATMs, getting on busses, hotels, budgets, etc. This post will be a bit lengthy, but it's stuff that I want to share… so bear with.

{Oh Gion} 

 Hopefully, these things will help anyone that is traveling to the Osaka/ Kyoto area of Japan. 

Public Transportation: 

Like Korea, Japan has a pretty amazing public transportation system. (I would even go as far as saying- it is better than Korea's.) On our vacation, we took both the subway and the bus to get around. We avoided taxis because they seemed pretty expensive and we really didn't need a taxi to get to where we needed to. I believe the taxis in the area started at 600 Yen (about $6) if you are interested. 

{The taxis did look pretty cute though} 

So let's talk about the bus. I was really scared to take the bus because I actually hate taking it in Korea. That is how I get to work, but when we go into Seoul- we always take the train. Anyway- in Korea, the bus signs are in hanguel, so unless you can read Korean it's hard to know which stop is yours. That always freaks me out. But in Japan, the buses have the screens in Japanese and English, so it's really easy to navigate. We used the bus a lot on our second day when we went out to Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera. Another thing I love about the buses is how comfortable they were and how smooth the ride was! In Korea, I always get so bus sick because the drivers drive like maniacs, and the roads on my bus route are really bad. But that was not the case in the Kyoto area. 

A one way bus ticket was about 200 Yen, but you can get a day pass for 500. I believe the bus drivers have them, and the city information desks sell them. I'm not sure where else you can get them. I would recommend the day card, especially if you are taking the bus a lot. 

*Bus Tip* You get on at the back of the bus and then exit through the front. While exiting, you also pay. 

{I would recommend finding a subway and bus map. We picked up this guide at the information kiosk at the airport. It had maps of the different areas in Kyoto, maps of the bus and subway, and tons of great information.} 

Subway- This was the form of transit we took the most- other than walking. The subway stations are pretty easy to navigate. Again the signs are in both English and Japanese. Each station is assigned a number, so when you are buying a ticket you just plug in the district and then the station number. (It sounds weird, but after your first time, it gets easier.) Matt and I got confused a couple of times, and the station employees always helped us out. You get these little paperish tickets to use. The ticket prices vary based on how far away you are going. If you get off at a different station than you planned, there are fare adjustment machines to help you. 

One thing that really surprised me was that not all the ticket machines were in English. This made buying tickets a little more difficult, but we could usually figure it out. The larger stations did have the English option, but the smaller ones usually didn't.  Also, the machines weren't as up to date as I would have expected. 


*We took the Kansai Express from the airport to Osaka for about 1,100 Yen per person and it was perfect. It was so easy and worth the extra cost. 

*Subway Tip* There are sections on the platform that you are supposed to line up to get on the subway. (Usually yellow or green) I noticed the Japanese seemed to stick to the queue, unlike in Korea. 


We stayed at the MyStays Hotel in Kyoto. It was about a 10 minute walk to the nearest subway station, and about 25 minutes from the Gion district. I would probably stay in the Gion district if we went again, but the price of this hotel was pretty nice. It wasn't the largest room, but it was perfect for us. The bed was so nice. The bathroom had full size bath products. It was just what we needed. The staff was friendly. The price of the room didn't include breakfast, but we didn't need that. If you are looking for a place to lay your head- this would be a good place to pick.


Okay, I don't know if was just us, but on our second night in Kyoto, we had the hardest time finding an ATM. Our plan was to pull out all the money we budgeted before leaving Korea, however, we forgot, so we only had about $400 on us when we got into Japan. We exchanged that at the airport, and just assumed we would find an ATM later. 

Saturday, we started looking for one in the Gion district. We found two, but neither would accept foreign cards. (We had our Korea card, and two cards from America.) At this point, I wasn't really freaking out because I figured there would be an ATM we could use near the shopping district in Kyoto. That evening we found tons of ATMs, but either they wouldn't translate to English, or they wouldn't accept foreign cards. We tried about 6 different ATMs. At this point, I was freaking out. We had enough money for the rest of our trip- if we really tightened up- but I wanted the money in my hands just in case! We finally found a machine that would take foreign cards, and we were able to take out the money we needed! Such relief! 

We actually ran into a group of American girls that asked us if we knew where a CITI bank was because they were having the same problems. They had tried the machine that worked for us, but it didn't work for them. Luckily, I had seen a CITI bank so we could kinda help them. I don't know if other people have had this problem, but just be aware. I would recommend just getting all your money out before hand. I know that's what we will do in the future! It just never occurred to me that we would have this problem in Japan- we've never had problems like that here in Korea. 


Okay, so I know when I see other people's budgets it really helps me get a sense of what's doable in a certain area. It also really helps me plan. Matt and I are in no ways total penny pinchers, but we do always have a budget to stick to while traveling. Sometimes this budget is less than the average, and sometimes it's more. I budget in terms of days- i.e. I set a dollar amount for each day. While on vacation, I have a notebook to record all spending. Although each day has a dollar amount, I record my spending in categories. Really- you just have to find the system that works for you. 

For Japan, I budgeted $190 per day. Here is what our total budget looked like: 

Osaka/ Kyoto Trip: 4 days, 3 nights 
*Budget includes both myself and Matt* 

Airfare: $831.40 
Bus/Subway/Airport Transit: $124.40
Total:  $955.80 

Hotel: $64 per night 
*All nights in Kyoto 
Total: $192 

All Meals and Snacks: $212 
Average Per Day: $53 
Total: $212 

En Tea: $40
Kinkaku-ji: $8
Kizumdera: $6
Ryozen: $4 
Osaka Castle: $12 
Total: $70

Sweets: $13
Geisha Print: $16.80
Dolls: $56.00
Magnet: $4
Massage: $65.20
Lockers: $7 
Total: $158.60 

*Taking out airfare and our hotel our daily average was $141. $49 under our daily budget. 

Overall Budget: $ 1,588.40 

Now of course, we could have reigned in our miscellaneous spending, but eh what the heck! We still came in under budget. If you want to cut even more costs- you could probably eat a bit cheaper as well. 
If you are looking for another Japan budget- make sure to check out Chelsea's over at Lost in Travels

One last thing before I go- AERO Plaza. Right next to the Osaka Airport is AERO Plaza. And it's a pretty cool place. It has restaurants, a few shops, a hotel, a spa, and quiet rooms for you to use. After Osaka Castle we had about five hours before our flight. But I was looking like this: 

My feet hurt. My back hurt. I was tired and ready to go home. So we went over and hung out at Arrow Plaza. We decided to splurge on a thirty minute back and foot massage to kill some time. Looking back, I wish we would have just rented the quite rooms for a nap, but the massage was pretty cool. Arrow Plaza is a great place if you have some time to kill before your flight. There is a free shuttle bus to take you to the airport when you are ready. And there are lockers for your bags while you are walking around. Matt and I used the lockers at the subway stations a couple times while in Osaka, and I think it's the way to go. We just pulled out our passports and left the less valuable stuff in the lockers. 

Anyway, I hope this way too long post was somewhat helpful. If you have any questions- feel free to ask! 

Happy Thursday Y'all! 

1 comment:

  1. Please continue to write more because it’s unusual that someone has something interesting to say about this.
    Will be waiting for more! To get new information visit here
    jfk taxi
    jfk taxi service
    new jersey taxi


Thanks for taking the time to comment- I appreciate and read each and every one of them. All replies will be in the comment section, please check back to read them!

- Alex