Quick and dirty guide to travelling in Japan (mostly Tokyo oriented) for Singaporeans

Go cheaptickets.sg or some other site to find the cheapest ticket to Japan. Tokyo has 2 airports, Narita, Haneda. Haneda is nearer to Tokyo (about 20 min train ride). Direct flight is about 6~7 hours. Depending on traffic, customs might take 30~60 minutes.

Fastest way from Narita to Tokyo (Ueno) is via the Keisei Skyliner (about 40 min train ride) but a bit more expensive. You can buy 2-way tickets online at their website for a slightly discounted price.

From my experience, best is to land in the morning/afternoon. Most hotel’s check in time is 2pm. If you arrive early, you can ask the hotel’s concierge to keep your luggage until you come back to check in. If you leave on a late night flight, you can also ask the hotel’s concierge to temporarily keep your luggage after checkout.

If you plan to travel outside of Tokyo for a few days during your trip, it would be good to spend the last 1~2 nights in Tokyo if your flight departs from here. It would be risky and too much of a rush to travel from Kyoto back to Tokyo for your flight.

And if you plan to stay at the same hotel after returning back from outside of Tokyo, you can ask the concierge to keep your luggage at a small fee per day. Then just travel out with a lighter luggage.

Remm Akihabara is a not bad hotel (their elevator system is a little annoying though). Can book online at hotels.com. At off-peak periods, a night’s stay can be around $100 SGD. Akihabara Washington is also near by and pretty good. Both hotels are right next to JR Akihabara station.

Get a SUICA card (similar to our ezlink). Can buy from their ticket machine. Most machines should have a button on screen to switch to English. Might need a deposit. If I’m not wrong, the card expires 10 years from the date of the last transaction. You can use SUICA at most convenient stores and trains throughout Japan. Just show them the card to indicate you want to pay using SUICA. This will help you reduce the amount of loose change.

Get a data SIM card (https://rental.cdjapan.co.jp/ or at the airport). No eSIM as of the time of this blog post. Google maps is pretty reliable there. Can help you find directions and even tell you which train to take, and give you suggestions on what places to visit and dine at.

As for amount of money to bring, 10,000 JPY for every day you are there is safe. But if you don’t shop a lot, 5,000 JPY/day should be enough. This amount includes travel, food and some shopping. Use the meal prices at McDonald’s to gauge if a restaurant’s food is expensive or cheap.

Compared to my first trip to Japan, more places accept credit cards now. There are some cards like YouTrip or DBS’s Multiplier account that helps you make payment in foreign currencies at lower transaction/exchange fees. If you go this route, you can bring less JPY cash. Cash is still needed at some places. Topping up your SUICA for example.

JR Pass is only good if you plan to take Shinkansen out of Tokyo. Have to buy it here in Singapore (JTB), then exchange for the actual pass at a train station or airport when you’re there.

Don’t get from Chan Brothers. When I wanted to get a 14 day pass, they tried to sell me 2x 7 day passes which is more expensive.

Once exchanged, you will have to go through a manned gate at every JR station. Just show the staff your JR pass and you will be allowed to go through. You cannot use the JR pass for metro lines. They are both different train operators.

You can also make reservations for the Shinkansen at certain stations that have a counter only for Shinkansen travellers. I would a list of dates and times and the train number, departure and destination, and make those reservations as soon as possible. If you are unable to make a reservation, there are free-seating carriages so just arrive early and queue up.


Ha, I can’t remember clearly what new year resolutions I made last year. But I think it’s something along the lines of working harder for more money, and take up a part-time degree course.

I did work harder than I was in 2010. But I never got around to getting that degree because I was given a chance to work overseas for a year and I was keen on taking up that offer.

Then I got approached with a job offer, with same pay but much better working environment, more challenging work.

Maybe in a year or 2 after things are stable with this new job, I will look into studying part-time again.

With freelance work and a new job taking up most of my time, I doubt I have enough spare time to pursue other things.

So this year, I shall focus on my Japanese language skills.

I took the N2 JLPT test on 2011 Dec. The results won’t be out till a few months later. If I pass, I might try for N1 this year.

The problem I’m concerned is even if I can get an N1 certification, it only means that I can understand Japanese well.

I know very well I can’t make up sentences in conversations well enough yet.

Also in my Japan trip in 2010, when I met up with my Japanese friends there, I had a hard time understanding what they are trying to say when they speak among themselves.

Native speakers speak very fast and are very different from what you hear on Japanese dramas and animes. From what I’ve heard, people who appear on TV and voice actors have undergone training in their speaking.

Hopefully the current SGD – JPY exchange rate recovers back to what it was 4 years ago. Currently it’s 1 SGD – 59 JPY.

Seeing photos of my friend’s trip there makes me want to go back there again.

Hmmm… It’s there where the real JLPT is.

Japan Earthquake 2011

After reading all the articles about the earthquake that happened in Japan recently, and despite the fact that there may be more earthquakes in future, it only further fuelled by desire to live there.

Many shops remained open to provide free shelter to people who couldn’t go back home when the trains had to stop running.

When they had problems with their power supply and requested everyone to co-operate by cutting down electricity usage, many shops did. In Akihabara, the famous electronics district, shops switched off their monitor displays. Some remain closed for business.

Square-Enix shut down their FFXI and FFXIV game servers too and offered to compensate players by making the month of April free.

Everyone is working together to overcome this huge challenge placed in front of them.

In Singapore, we’re fortunate that we’re safe from all these natural disasters.

But in return, it has made a lot of it’s citizens pretty selfish and uncaring towards others.


I’ve also did my part and made a small donation to Red Cross Japan via google.

I’ve never made donations before and I probably never will in Singapore with all the donation scandals that’ve happened here before.

Japan 2010

Had a short chat with a JP friend in-game in FFXI. I’ve not spoken with him in a long time besides exchanging “good night!”s.

He says he’s going to Tokyo next year to work as a programmer.

And so I said to him, “Shall we meet in Tokyo next year?”. To which he agreed.

So yea, I’ve begun making plans for another trip to Japan next year!

I’m going to invite a few more people who’ve been in the same Sky LS as me, a few years ago, and who also stay near or in Tokyo. Want to try and form a party of 6. Haha

I’m thinking of going to the Tokyo Game Show 2010. But I also want to go there on a season that’s cold like my first trip there back in November 2007. I think that was just the beginning of winter?

This time, I’ll make sure to visit a “real” maid cafe!