I was really really looking forward to our trip to Japan this spring, because it would be the first time seeing cherry blossom after missing it 2 years in a row.
However we had a problem. As everyone knows, the sakura season is insanely crowded with tourists in Japan. We confirmed our trip only a few weeks prior to flying, and we could not find an accommodation. Our regular apartment chains were fully booked, and hotels weren’t really an option as we need family-friendly amenities. We panicked.
In the end what saved us was HomeAway‘s vacation rental. They have more than a million whole home rental options across 190 countries, and thankfully there were lots of listings available in both Tokyo and Osaka. True that during this super peak season, most of the rental rates were higher than usual, but we were just very happy to secure an accommodation for our family.
For the first two days in Tokyo, we stayed in a spacious newly built apartment in Ebisu.
Check out the luggages we have!! There’s no way we would fit all these in a small hotel room.
I love this place because it is the only unit on ground floor, no elevator needed, no staircase to climb, full privacy all for ourselves!
Junya busy inspecting every single feature of the apartment.
You have no idea how thankful I was because I really rarely stay in an apartment where I could fully open and lay my luggage case flat on the floor (plus a lot of extra space). I’m serious. This is a luxury many people do not understand lol.
A clean and tidy pantry equipped with fry pans, pots and basic kitchenware for simple cooking.
And the bed… THE BED!!!!
Do you know how nice it is to see king-size bed in Japan? T___T. All along we stayed in apartments with the largest bed being a double bed, and we had to be resourceful to improvise a bigger bed – by connecting sofas, ottoman, cushion etc to accommodate our family of four.
This is the first ever time Junya gets a whole double bed to himself. Usually he is the kelian one who had to sleep on bath towel-covered ottoman lolol.
You know what I love the most? Cuddling my babies on the bed …
while watching Japanese tv. 😀
Sakura comfortably fell asleep on the bed.
This apartment is a few minutes walk to Ebisu station on Yamanote Circle line, so it is extremely convenient. I could easily travel to Harajuku all by myself with the two petits.
Spotted a newly blossomed sakura tree in Harajuku!
Met up with RinRin in full lolita dress (she had a tea party that day) and Li from UK, whom I have not met for four years!! Reunited in Tokyo ❤︎
I would really love to stay in the Tokyo apartment for a few more days but we had to leave for Osaka after two nights!
At Haneda airport waiting for our flight to Itami, Osaka.
Bento before boarding.
And then checked into our apartment in Osaka!
Wa wa wa someone is taking this whole bed thing a little too seriously lol. 5 beds in total!!!!
It’s a little too many to be honest, but we are not complaining haha.
Of course it would be nice if we had more people staying with us so we can utilize the space for effectively, but we needed it so urgently (the listings were getting booked by the minutes!) we just grab whatever we could find, and we really wanted to stay around Shinsaibashi/Dotonburi area.
A lot of apartments come with free pocket wifi, so you save even more!! 😀
Taken using my Theta 360 camera!
This one is taken by Junya ^^
He just kept snapping!
Even if you don’t cook, I would advise you to look for an apartment with a microwave, because it’s likely you will want to heat up some food especially for baby. You can also now buy frozen food from supermarkets or combini and heat it up for a quick meal especially when you don’t feel like eating out.
I always buy an emergency stash of food and keep in the freezer in case of lazy days like when I just feel too tired to get dressed again and head out for supper.
Combini food 😀 (and ooops that pile of laundry :P)
If you stay longer than just a couple of days, you will also need a washing machine so you can do your laundry. Laundry services in Japan could be quite pricy.
Joined double beds = quadruple bed!
This apartment is a short walk away from major departmental store Daimaru, and Dotonburi, so it is super convenient!
Kinryu ramen – an Osaka must-eat. They say that if you are used to the rich tonkotsu ramen taste from Tokyo, all Osaka equivalent will taste kind of too bland. It’s true, I still prefer the fail-safe Ichiran. 😛
Walked pass a shrine and it was full bloom!! 😀 Ahhhhh how I love spring… ♥
We even walked all the way to Kuromon market for all the yummy eats!
And then to Tsutenkaku Tower for a leisure stroll.
During our 12-day stay in Osaka, we also made day trips to Mie, Hiroshima and Hyogo prefectures. Will blog more in details soon! 😀
If you decide to book your whole home experience with HomeAway, here are some pointers from me to ensure that you have a smooth and happy travel experience.
1. Look out for huge “Last Minute Deal” discount! This was our apartment in Osaka and it is now only 4,000JPY after a 60% discount. Sooooo cheap omg.
2. You can pay attention to this section during booking to ensure that you pick an apartment with the amenities you need, such as a kitchen/washing machine.
3. Do read reviews about the host and usually a good host has a good response rate, and replies you within a day or even within hours. This is super important as you will want someone easily accessible when you encounter any problems with your accommodation.
4. It’s also good to communicate with the host before booking. (i.e. baby cot, late check-in/check-out, baggage storage, if there is a lift or stairs only) Will be helpful to help you determine if the apartment suits your travel needs.
5. Read the house rules and follow through. I saw on Japanese TV that some apartments in Japan stopped vacation rentals in Japan because the tourists have caused too much troubles, like loud noises, improper garbage disposal and nuisance to residents, etc. So please be a good tenant, be considerate to your neighbors as well as your host so that the hosts and residents are happy, and that more owners will be encouraged to rent out their homes, so in return we get more and better options! Create a good cycle so that more people can continue to benefit from this. 🙂
And lastly, if you are looking to make a HomeAway booking soon, you can use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!
Happy vacationing! ^^