Ichiran Ramen Review

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ichiran is a popular Japanese ramen shop which originated from Fukuoka in 1960. What started as a small stall flourished into a ramen chain with 65 locations in Japan and branches found in Taipei, Hong Kong, as well as in Brooklyn, New York. In Dotonbori, the Ichiran branch is open for 24 hours.

restaurant review ichiran

Ichiran serves tonkotsu ramen, a pork bone based soup broth. Tonkotsu ramen is made by boiling pork bone and other ingredients for several hours to get its rich taste. It was initially prepared as an affordable food served to fish market workers in Fukuoka. In Japan, Ichiran and Ippudo (yes, the one in Manila) are the most popular ramen chains that serve this type of ramen.

Since it was my first time to visit Ichiran, I'll give you my honest, first impression on their well-loved ramen.


Hotel Grand Fresa Akasaka Review - An Affordable Accommodation in Tokyo

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tokyo used to be a luxury destination for travelers. Though it’s still one of the world’s most expensive cities, flights and accommodation have become more affordable over the years. Initially, my mother wanted to book the hotel where we first stayed at in 2012, but with a price of Php 11,000 per night, we knew it was too much, considering we will be mostly out and about during the day.

hotel front

That’s when Hotel Grand Fresa Akasaka came into view. A 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice, the hotel is part of Sotetsu Fresa Inn’s chain of hotels which are popular for business and leisure travelers. My husband and I already stayed at their Nihombashi-Kayabacho branch in 2015, so I was looking for available rooms at that hotel once more. However, the said branch was fully booked for our travel dates. When I saw their Akasaka branch and the rates were less than half of Php 11,000, I immediately booked three rooms for our stay.

If you’re looking for affordable hotel rooms in Tokyo within the city center, let me give you an overview of our stay at Hotel Grand Fresa Akasaka.

gala yuzawa snow resort

Getting to Gala Yuzawa from Tokyo

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort is a popular winter destination for tourists who want to ski or snowboard because of its convenient location. Being the only snow resort in Japan with its own bullet train station, you can hop on the train in Tokyo and be at the resort in as short as 77 minutes.

ski, snowboard, snow resort

When you’re going to this snow resort, the main and most convenient transportation you need to ride is the Shinkansen (bullet train), particularly Joetsu, which goes directly to Gala Yuzawa station. Not only is it convenient but it’s also stress-free. With that said, let me guide how to reach Gala from your starting point: Tokyo station.

gala yuzawa snow resort

Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort and My First Ski Experience

Thursday, March 08, 2018

My aunts haven’t seen snow yet. And they haven’t been to Japan either. While I’ve experienced snow during the first days of winter in Nami Island or in the middle of summer at Mount Titlis (Summer?! I know, right?), I haven’t seen proper, thick snow. So when I booked our flights to Tokyo, I made sure it was going to be a winter vacation.

snow resort, skis, snowboards, snow

Being my family’s exclusive “travel agent”, I looked for ski or snow resorts that we can go to for just one day coming from Tokyo. There were convenient group tours on coaches, but they just didn't tickle my fancy. With determination and never ending quest of building our itinerary, I stumbled upon Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort.


Narita Express Review – Boarding the N’EX Train for the First Time

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Many budget airlines and international flag carriers arrive in Tokyo via Narita Airport. Although Haneda Airport is much closer to central Tokyo, flights that arrive in Narita are much cheaper (especially promo fares). After a “long” flight (depending on where you come from), your next aim is to get to your Tokyo accommodation the fastest way possible.

high speed train, train tracks, train platform

That’s when Narita Express (N’EX) comes into the picture. It’s no surprise that trains in Japan are one of the country’s pride and glory. When it comes to efficient train transportation, N’EX definitely sets an example. As I boarded the N’EX train for the first time, I found noteworthy pros and cons during my trip which I think will help you decide when taking a transport to Tokyo.

gala yuzawa snow resort

JR TOKYO Wide Pass Review – 5 Things You Need to Know

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I never thought of the importance of the JR passes until I needed one. In my recent travel to Japan, the highlight of our vacation was the one-day trip to Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort from Tokyo. I’ve researched instructions on how to get to the snow resort, Shinkansen fares, and asked on TripAdvisor for transportation recommendation, until the members suggest I take the JR TOKYO Wide Pass.

train pass website screenshot
JR TOKYO Wide Pass. Image from
JR-EAST (East Japan Railway Company) is Japan’s biggest passenger railway company and they offer various discount passes for tourists coming to Japan. They have the JR EAST Pass for Nagano, Niigata area (¥18,000 for adults, valid for 5 days) and another one for Tohoku area (¥20,000 for adults, valid for 5 days). Both passes are very convenient and cost-effective to use when traveling outside of Tokyo. Since we only have 4 full days to spare (and only decided to go out of Tokyo for the snow resort), we opted to purchase the TOKYO Wide Pass, which is only valid for 3 days.

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