Japan is Kris Aquino's favorite travel destination.
The host-actress and her sons, Josh and Bimby, make an average of six trips to the Land of the Rising Sun each year.
And guess what sparked her interest? Sanrio, the makers of Hello Kitty and friends.
At the opening of Japanese kitchen brand Asvel last Friday, February 22, the 48-year-old celebrity said, "I think it would be that because Grade 1... because all my maternal lola, her sister was in the diplomatic corps, she was assigned sa Japan.
"I felt so proud kasi I was one of the first who had complete na Hello Kitty, you know, the magnetic pencil case, 'tapos with all the ano, 'tapos ninakaw.
"And my mom said, 'See, because you brought it. Nag-show off ka, kaya tuloy nanakawan ka.'
"Sabi ko, e siyempre di ba? Gusto mo ipakita na you were the first one to have it."
Kris's mom is the late President Cory Aquino.
Aside from Hello Kitty, Kris said Kiki and Lala of Little Twin Stars are her favorite Sanrio characters.
The web show host recounted, "I remember na so Grade 1, I was only second honors.
"So my dad said, 'Kapag nag-first honor ka...' kasi at that point, nag-switch na yung allegiance.
"Little Twin Stars na yung gusto ko. So there was a doll house na Little Twin Stars, it's all pink, di ba?
"And then I was first honors, but when we’re gonna buy it na, wala na siya. So, I think it started then."
But here's an interesting trivia: Her sisters—Ballsy, Viel, and Pink—travel to Japan more often.
Kris revealed, "There are people in our family na more than me...
"Me, siguro four times to six times a year, my sisters, eight times.
"Because naka-register sila doon sa mga budget airline so pag biglang may seat sale, bili agad.
"They take short trips and they're the adventurous ones. They go to Fukuoka, Nagoya. They go to so many other places."
Kris has many happy memories in Japan.
"Every time we go, we’re just happy.
"We’ve never had a trip to Japan na the three of us were not happy.
"It’s our happy place."
She also considers its distance and travel hours perfect for her health condition.
Late last year, Kris revealed that she was diagnosed with chronic spontaneous urticarial, severe migraine, hypertension, fibromyalgia, overproduction of thyroid antibodies, and a form of lupus.
"There’s a restriction for me that I cannot take flights more than six hours until I pass the next test in April when I go back to Singapore.
"Because yung air, di ba, nagsi-circulate sa airplane?
"So Japan is perfect. Tamang-tama lang yung timing."
She went on enumerating what she likes about Japan, starting with the discipline of people.
"We love the people because they’re so courteous and helpful. Even though there’s a language barrier, they always try to be helpful.
"Second, they’re so efficient pati sa tax refund, ang efficient nila. Binibigay kaagad. Not like with others.
"I’m not naming other countries kasi that’s their prerogative naman.
"Pero in Japan, it’s right away binawas na.
"They’re really the best and you feel everything is so clean."
Kris added that she feels safe there.
"Even if you walk around na 2:00 in the morning, walang mangyayari sa 'yo. You’ll be happy and you’ll be safe."
And what's on top of her most beautiful tourist locations list?
She named Niseko, a snowy town in Hokkaido, which she visited with her sons in January 2015.
The actress-host recalled, "Beautiful siya talaga, but my problem is now, I cannot tolerate the cold too much, so medyo hirap na hirap ako talaga, so the snow, medyo no."
One activity Kris and her sons love doing in Japan is going on a food trip.
Kris detailed, "The boys they just adore it so much. They said even the American food daw, in Japan, they taste better.
"Okay, mayroon silang favorite na burger to avoid any conflicts with my endorsement, I’m pretty sure you know it’s opening soon, pero they said, they tried it in the States, they tried it in Hong Kong, but they said nothing beats daw the Japanese version of that.
"And then I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention it, pero nung time na iyon when I signed the contract, Denny's in Japan, oh my god, iba siya. It’s really masarap!
"No offense sa Denny's dito ha and ano, very ano. The Japanese Denny's—even the Hawaii Denny's—ang layo, para talagang 20 million miles away sila from how sarap it is there."
Kis also enjoyed eating Wagyu beef at Gyu-Kaku restaurant in Japan.
"It was Sharon who taught me about Gyu-Kaku—'cause we love Sakura, we love Yakiniku—value for money talaga, ang daming kinain."
She added, "Basta there were four of us, and as in puro Wagyu yung inorder ko, ah, I didn’t make tipid, ha.
"Pero the entire bill including we had Bibimbap, additional orders pa and everything, parang everyone had two platters of each 'pag kinonvert mo into pesos, it was PHP5,500.
"E, di ba dito that’s one order lang!"