by AAINAA NADIRA MOHAMMED HASHIM
If I were to describe Japan in one word, it would be: UNBELIEVABLE. It’s unbelievably clean, the people are unbelievably helpful and disciplined. But most importantly, it’s unbelievably pricey. Even as I went there with my family, the lot of us could feel how pricey it is to travel to Japan and that got me thinking, is it possible to enjoy Japan without burning a hole in your pocket? Out of that thought came what will follow below – a list of the must-do things when you’re visiting Japan that would be memorable but at the same time not deadly for your bank account (can you hear the collective relieved sighs of wallets and purses everywhere?). Yeay!
- Trip to convenient stores
Japan has, hands-down, the best convenient stores ever. There are the normal convenient stores like the ones we have in Malaysia (boring!) and then there are ones illuminated with colourful neon lights on each headboard, from the vegetable sections to the seafood sections. Grocery shopping would look uber-cool when the convenient store is super Instagram and tumblr-worthy! The food sold at these stores are fun to try too. I would highly recommend their Lipton drinks. They taste different – less sugary – from the ones we have in Malaysia. Try the Lychee Tea or Grape Tea and you’ll thank me later.
- Gobble up Japanese snacks and desserts
Hands up if you grew up with Nobita and Doraemon, because I sure did! Growing up with Doraemon, it would have been disgraceful for me not to grab the chance to eat as much dorayaki as was possible. Be careful of the ingredients, though. Since the instructions are all written in Japanese, we did not get much Japanese desserts unless there was someone there to translate them for us. A packet of dorayaki would cost you around 100 to 200 Yen (equivalent to more or less RM4 and RM8 respectively). Other Japanese snacks that are Muslim-friendly would be mochi and daifuku.
- Try on a kimono
A trip to Japan is incomplete unless you’ve tried on their kimono. Kimono is usually worn for formal occasions. A straight-lined robe consisting of four panels of fabric with wide sleeves is sure to make anyone look like an elegant Japanese princess! Rental fees usually could go up to 3,000 Yen (+/-RM120) for a one-day rental. To save money, go over to Osaka Museum Housing and Living and you’ll get to wear it for 500 Yen (+/- RM20) for 30 minutes. Don’t worry, the time allocated is sufficient for getting good shots. Total steal!
- Get a glimpse of a geisha
This is one of the mandatory things to do when you’re in Kyoto. There are only certain areas where you can find geishas and one of them is in Gion District, Kyoto. Take a brisk night walk there accompanied by lantern lights. If you’re lucky enough, you might spot one or two geishas! But remember to never stop them for pictures or take their pictures without permission. They’re always rushing for work, so be mindful!
- Morning walk with deers
Yup, you read that right! If you’re staying in Osaka, you could take a day trip to Nara and channel your inner Snow White there with deers all around you. No entrance fee is required. But be warned – there are some seriously starving deers that would bite your clothes and bags if you don’t give them food. We had a really fun and funny experience getting our clothes bitten by them, but they were all so cute! (Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt a bit)
..and the list goes on! There are other money-savvy activities that you can do in Japan that will also help to maximise and make the best out of your Japan trip but for now, I’ll just leave these five here. Japan is a really amazing country and if I were to list out all the fun and cheap things I did there, the entire issue would be just one article.
Who says you need to splurge a lot in order to have fun while travelling? If you are looking to go to Japan or are going soon, hopefully this guide helps you out!