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ANAbelievable Japan. Tokyo, The Quake And The 77W  
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 16894 times:

ANAbelievable Japan. Tokyo, the Quake and the 77W

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/TK1.png

Welcome to the first segment of a 2-part trip report about my recent trip to Japan. This first part will focus on Tokyo, while the second part will be about the island of Hokkaido.


BACKGROUND

For quite some time my wife and I knew that following the summer of 2012, and for the next 2 or 3 years, our work schedule would be such that no long vacations would be possible (and by "long" I mean anything in excess of 3 consecutive days). As a result we wanted to take a 10-day holiday in the Spring and travel somewhere (preferably) far away. After much thinking we narrowed our options down to 2 alternatives. 1) A trip to the BeNeLux - N.France - W.Germany area. My wife traces her ancestry in that broader region and wanted us to visit the villages of her great-great-grandparents. 2) A trip to Japan, a lifelong dream of my wife's.

Finally, after much deliberation we decided that a trip to Japan would be the best choice at this point in time. For me that was meant to be my second visit to the land of the rising sun (the first one was in 2009, see TR HERE)


BOOKING
The options for getting to Tokyo from Chicago were plenty but my wife (despite being a very proud American) vetoed all US carriers on the Trans-Pacific segment (she knows better). Ideally we wanted to fly KE or OZ via ICN with a long enough layover to allow us some sightseeing in Seoul. However, we couldn't find anything that wouldn't require us selling our house to pay for it.

Eventually, we decided to forget the whole "long layover" idea and simply fly to Tokyo in the simplest way we could find or afford. Nonetheless, in addition to Tokyo we decided that we should visit one more major city while in Japan. Somewhat selfishly I suggested Sapporo (I had already visited Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima in my previous visit). After a bit of online searching we found a really good deal with NH (ORD-LAX-NRT-CTS-NRT-LAX-ORD). The US-domestic segments were to be operated by UA, but all the other flights were to be operated by NH. I was extremely excited about this route and my only regret was that our itinerary did not involve a flight into or from HND. What's more, both our Trans-Pacific segments were to be operated by NH's recently refurbished 777-300ERs with the new cabins.

Here's out itinerary:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/gcmap-1.png
Yellow lines represent segments operated by UA, while red lines represent segments operated by NH

ORD-LAX, United Airlines, A319
LAX-NRT, All Nippon Airways, 777-300ER (77W)
NRT-CTS, All Nippon Airways, A320
CTS-NRT, All Nippon Airways, A320
NRT-LAX, All Nippon Airways, 777-300ER (77W)
LAX-ORD, United Airlines, A320 (originally 757 at the time of booking)



Instead of purchasing our tickets through NH's website we decided to do so at UA's website (UA is a partner of NH and the two have many codeshares). You may ask why we did that. Well, my bank (which I have since abandoned) had this ingenious rule where all transactions with foreign companies (even if the transaction is in US dollars) are subject to a 3% fee. I found this the hard way when I booked some flights on LH's American website, paid in US$, yet I was charged almost $100 in "foreign transaction" fees. I wasn't gonna fall for that again. The downside of booking with UA was that I could not select seats for the segments operated by NH. Nonetheless, a few days later, while checking my reservation online, I noticed that we were assigned seats 21A+C on the LAX-NRT segment, which was great (the aircraft was meant to have a 2-4-3 configuration in economy, therefore seats A and C are next to each other). However, I also noticed that our departure from ORD to LAX was pushed back by 45 minutes (hence making our layover at LAX dangerously short). Surprisingly UA had not bothered to tell us about it. I was not happy about this. I decided to keep checking our reservations every few days in case more changes were made without notification.

About a week prior to our flights, I checked our online reservation again to find out that my wife's seat selections had disappeared while mine had remained as is. I called UA several times but I had to give up each time after being put on hold for more than an hour (this was during the time UA was integrating its electronic system with that of CO, which resulted in confusion for many passengers who clogged the telephone lines for several days). Finally the fourth time I called (and after having waited for about 150 minutes) I got to talk to someone. The lady on the phone told me that in their system our seats reservations showed up normally and that I probably couldn't see them because of some glitch in the system. She didn't sound all that convincing but at least I knew that there was still a good chance that we'd get the seats we wanted.



HEADING OUT EAST (OR WEST IF YOU WILL)
.
.
.
Route: ORD-LAX
Carrier: United Airlines
Aircraft: A319
Reg: Unknown

It is no secret that for me UA belongs to the "Axis of Evil" of airlines alongside IB and AZ. Prior experiences with UA had been less than pleasant: because of them I had to spend an entire Christmas Eve at MUC, at their hands I experienced my -hands down- worse TATL meals, they managed to lose my luggage on a direct flight and on top of that all I had to suffer their idiotic Departure Management Card idea on 3 different occasions (you can read about one of them HERE). As a result I did not have very high expectations of them for our flights from/to LAX. However, as you will see below, UA failed to meet even these extremely low expectations.

The day before our flights I tried to do OLCI at UA's website but all that came out of it was a "this-is-not-a-boarding-pass" boarding pass. Great. What a nice way to waste one's time. At 4am the following morning, we jumped onto a cab and after 30 mins of rocking on to "Jesus FM" we got dropped off at ORD. All that was available at that time was a bunch of self-check-in counters with just a couple of people supervising them. The machines would not read our passports so we had to call one of the agents to help. One of the ladies did some hocus pocus on the machine, she tagged our luggage and provided us with our boarding passes to LAX. The machine also provided us with another couple of "this-is-not-a-boarding-pass" cards for the LAX-NRT segment which read:

"Your connecting boarding passes cannot be processed at an airport kiosk. Please proceed to directly to the United ticket counter at your originating airport to obtain your boarding passes".

I wasn't entirely sure how to interpret this so after security I asked a gate agent about it. She told me that we had to get our boarding passes at LAX, which was the "originating" airport for that segment. It was not meant to be that simple as we later found out...

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7668.jpg
The neon lights at the underground walkway connecting the B & C concourses at ORD

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Erm...Okay...

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Our A319 still in the old UA colors, waiting at the gate

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Cabin view

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In flight service... (Kindle not included)


The flight to LAX was as unremarkable as one can be. Tight legroom, just a drink (no snack) for a 4-hour flight, United's service is as basic as one can imagine. It gives true meaning to the term "cattle class" and lags behind the already very basic services seen on DL or AA. At least our A319 had overhead monitors but the programs that were chosen for our flight were of no interest to me so I turned to my Kindle.

After we arrived at T7 of LAX we proceeded to a United counter in order to get our new boarding passes. After waiting for about 30 mins we managed to speak to an agent who informed us that she could not issue us the boarding passes and that we had to go to the International Terminal and get them from ANA. I wonder why we weren't told about this in the first place... The cards we were given explicitly said that we were gonna get the boarding passes from a UA counter. Now we were running dangerously out of time.

Getting to the Intl Terminal from T7 involves either walking the 1km distance or you wait for the infrequent little bus to take you there. Given that the bus was nowhere to be seen we walked the full distance. Once at the Intl Terminal all we could see was a really long and disheartening line at the ANA check-in counters. I was not expecting to spend our whole layover at LAX waiting in line to re-check-in. Who came up with this? I was sleepless, tired and annoyed. A male ANA agent directing people on the floor saw us exasperated as we were and asked us where we were going. We explained that we had just arrived from Chicago, that we had already checked our bags at ORD and that all we wanted was our boarding passes to NRT. He asked us to join the main check-in line but a few minutes later he came back and asked us to follow him to the business class check-in counter where another agent would help us. How nice of him!

Once at the counter the friendly female agent asked for our passports, luggage tags and reservations printouts. After spending an unusually long time working on her computer screen I asked her whether there was a problem. She frowned and said that United had somehow mixed up our tickets so that our names were associated with different ticket numbers for each leg of the trip (or something along those lines). She apologized and asked us to wait while she called her supervisor. The two of them spent quite some time trying to solve the problem and kept shaking their heads in the process. I didn't want to disturb them but I was getting somewhat worried so I asked them if we were gonna be able to fly. They reassured me that we were going to be OK and that they had to spend some time fixing the problem by re-entering all of info manually. However they diplomatically avoided answering my questions about how UA had messed up, presumably not wanting to expose their colleagues. How professional. In general my impression of the ANA staff was extremely positive. They took interest in us, helped us avoid the unnecessary long wait to get our boarding passes and solved the ticket issue, all the while being extremely friendly and pleasant. I wish everyone was like that. Once we finally got our boarding passes (with the seats we wanted!), we headed to security which was fortunately not busy.

Once at the gate, we sat down to catch our breath before heading out for a walk to shoot some photos of the numerous Asian (and not only) heavies parked at this section of LAX. Once done we decided to grab a quick snack to make sure we were not too hungry during the flight. The hot dog place next to our gate had very carefully and thoughtfully adjusted their prices to acclimate the passengers flying to Japan to the prices of food at their destination. Two cold cut sandwiches and $25 later, we had finally satisfied our hunger.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0014-1.jpg
The Theme Building and the ATC at LAX

Here a few photos of some interesting international traffic at LAX:

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OZ getting ready for departure to ICN

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0016-1.jpg
LAN heading to either SCL or LIM

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0013.jpg
MU destined for PVG



JAPAN HERE WE COME

.
.
Route: LAX-NRT
Carrier:All Nippon Airways
Aircraft: 777-300ER (77W)
Reg: JA782A

Boarding was surprisingly orderly and we took our seats one row behind the bulkhead. Of course in front of us there was a family with a baby. There's always one. The seats were very comfortable, the seat pitch was great as was the size of the personal IFE monitors. What I loved about the new cabin however is the seat reclining mechanism. Instead of compromising the space of the person behind you, this reclining method uses you own leg space in order to recline your seat. Instead of your seat-back reclining backwards, this mechanism slides your bum forward, hence pulling the lower side of your seat-back forward and down. No need to feel guilty for reclining with these seats. You just use your own (already generous) leg space. Ingenious! I have suffered enough from overenthusiastic over-recliners over the years. All of us have.

You can see a movie of the new cabin here:
http://www.ana.co.jp/wws/japan/e/loc...ht/guide/seat/sp2/main.html?seat=3

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0019.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0006-1.jpg
Our aircraft at the jetbridge

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7703.jpg
Leaving LAX and California behind

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0022.jpg
The personal IFE monitors

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7688.jpg
Really good seatpitch

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7694.jpg
Cabin view

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7710.jpg
Trying some of the available videogames on the IFE System


FOOD SERVICE

Menus were available both in the traditional paper form but also digitally on the IFE system. Before the main meal we were provided with hot towels, a pack of snacks (containing rice crackers, seaweed treats and cashews) and a choice of drink. I decided to try the advertised, ANA original, "Aromatic Kabosu", a soft drink made of a Japanese variety of lime. I loved it. Our meal options were a Japanese tray containing a chicken Teriyaki main dish with vegetables, fish salad, egg and spinach salad, soba noodles with sauce, and some fruit, or a Western tray containing seafood pasta with vegetables, a salmon salad, pickled mushrooms and peppers, a block of cheese and a fresh bread roll. Both meals came with a bottle of water. I chose the Western, while my wife opted for the Japanese. The portions were very generous, the quality exceptional, and I should not forget to mention the ANA-branded metal cutlery! I opted for a beer while my wife had some white wine. For dessert we were each given a Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice-cream cup but both of us were too stuffed to finish it. Finally we were offered some delicious Japanese green tea. To me it smells vaguely of seaweed (even though it does not contain any) and I could drink buckets of it, even though I'm not generally a big fan of tea.


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7714.jpg
Hot towels!

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7716.jpg
Rice/seaweed snacks and aromatic kabosu (臭橙) drink. Delicious!

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Belly cam view while flying over the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7758.jpg
ANA's Wingspan Magazine

Food and drinks menu:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7754.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7755.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7723.jpg
Japanese Meal

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7730.jpg
Western Meal

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7724.jpg
Branded metal cutlery. It subsequently mysteriously disappeared and found its way to my bag

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7734.jpg
I couldn't wait to get to Hokkaido before having a cold Sapporo Beer.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7737.jpg
Dessert


The IFE system had a wide range of games, music and movies.The IFE could be controlled either through the touch-screen monitors or a retractable-cord remote (mainly used for the video-games). Movies included popular western blockbusters (Tower Heist, J Edgar, The Big Year), older classics (The Terminal, The Graduate, Shrek) and some Japanese independent movies. One could also watch a variety of documentaries, including one about the development of the 787. I chose to split my time between watching some programs on the IFE and reading my Kindle. At some point I went to the galley to grab some more of the rice/seaweed snacks and a glass of kabosu. By that point I was addicted...

The crew made several drink runs and walked by on at least 4 occasions to distribute immigration and customs forms. It seems that they were determined to make sure no-one forgot to get one. About 2 hours prior to landing we were given a generous lunch of cheese-tomato pasta, fruit and yogurt. I asked for some more kabosu to wash it down. Metal cutlery again!

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7745.jpg
Pre-landing snack

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/MAP.png
A much more northerly path than expected for this particular route

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7748.jpg
Cruising above the north Pacific


KONICHIWA TOKYO

Upon arrival we headed to immigration, which was a total breeze (I love how organized the Japanese are) and we then walked to the baggage reclaim. Both our bags were of the last few pieces to show up and for a moment I got worried that they got stuck in LAX. After clearing customs, we bought Limousine Bus tickets and took a seat at a bench to wait for our bus. While waiting, a couple of security guards (policemen?) walked up to us and in a very friendly manner asked to see our passports. Each of them took out a notebook and wrote down the details of our documents. No idea why. The guy who was examining my passport asked me what country it was from. When I told him, he looked confused and asked me what continent that country was in. I told him it's in Europe, to which he responded with a prolonged "ooooh" and a nod.

The bus picked us up from right in front the Departures area. The Limousine Bus company runs a number of routes from NRT, each stopping at a different combination of hotels at different parts of town. Our bus was meant to stop at 4 hotels in the Akasaka area. The ride was meant to last anywhere between 80 and 100 minutes but due to the traffic and the slowness of our driver (even mopeds were overtaking us on the highway) it wasn't until 2:15 hours before we finally reached our hotel.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7760.jpg
The bus that would take us to our hotel in Akasaka




5 DAYS IN TOKYO WELL-SPENT

The hotel we chose to stay was the Grand Arc Hanzomon in Chiyoda, right next to the Imperial Palace and its distinctive moat. The view from our room was amazing and it probably ranks as the 2nd best hotel view I've ever had. One could see the Tokyo skyline, the Imperial Palace moat (the Sakurada segment) and the Imperial Palace "island", the National Theater and the Supreme Court. In addition one could also see the Tokyo Tower and other high-rises very clearly.


HOTEL GRAND ARC HANZOMON

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The Hotel Grand Arc Hanzomon

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The logo and Japanese name of our hotel

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0474.jpg
The amazing view from our hotel room by day

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0032.jpg
...and by night

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0063.jpg
Japanese-style toilet with all the quirky extras

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7787.jpg
Exquisite Sencha Japanese green tea offered by the hotel. It tastes like seaweed tea to me. I am a big fan.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0394.jpg
Our hotel (center) as seen from the south end of the Imperial Palace moat

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0042-1.jpg
Another perspective of the room view


I do not recall much from our first night at the hotel. We were so exhausted that we just showered and crashed for some much-needed sleep. Our sleep however was short lived. At about 2am I woke up feeling someone shaking me. I opened my eyes and saw everything in the room moving back and forth. The bag I had left on the table was rocking so violently that it almost fell to the ground. I guess Tokyo wasted no time in welcoming us with a decent size earthquake. Even though I grew up in the Balkans where earthquakes are fairly common, this was by far the one I felt the most. Despite my fatigue I could not fall back asleep not so much out of fear but out of excitement... My wife however went back to sleep right away. The next day I found out that the magnitude of the earthquake was just a meager 5.1 on the Richter scale, while the day before Hokkaido was hit by a 6.1 one.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7869.jpg
Staying awake for the dawn after the earthquake

Our 5 days in Tokyo were spent roaming around trying to see as many places as we could. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side as it was rainy for most part. To add insult to injury both my wife and I got sick (my wife suspects it was viral pneumonia) so we were fairly miserable. We felt very weak (thus unable to walk long distances as it is required in such trips), we were very sensitive to cold (and the weather was rather cold to begin with), and we had completely lost our appetite for food (thus negating one of the main purposes of the trip which was to eat as much good sushi as possible). What a bummer. Nonetheless, we pushed on and managed to cross out most of the items on our checklist of things-to-do and things-to-eat. We checked out the Imperial Palace exterior, visited the Asakusa area, took a boat ride down the Sumida river, saw the Tokyo Sky Tree, saw the harbor, visited Odaiba, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku, saw Tokyo from a couple of observatories and visited a number of parks. Not bad. The only thing that we wanted to do but failed to was to visit the famous Tsukiji fish market for a fresh fish breakfast. But let's face it, who wakes up at 4am to take the train in order to eat raw fish, when terribly sick and jet lagged? Well, we were genuinely willing to but we just physically couldn't...

Here is a photo-summary of the places we saw while in Tokyo:


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7798.jpg
Some early blossoms

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8000.jpg
At a yakitori restaurant

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7995.jpg
The menu. Good luck with that. Especially when no-one in the restaurant speaks a lick of English.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_8003.jpg
From right to left: Livers, quail eggs, pork chunks, beef cartilage, chicken thighs, asparagus inside intestines and shishito peppers.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7979.jpg
Rainbow Bridge as seen from a Yurikamome Line train.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7974.jpg
The Yurikamome Line trains do not have a driver so you can take a seat in the front and marvel at the views

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7960.jpg
Looking at the skyline of Odaiba, a man-made island on Tokyo's harbor full of amusement areas and buildings of exceptional architecture

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7937.jpg
A car exhibition at Odaiba. This is the new Toyota Aqua (or Prius C as it is known outside Japan).

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7936.jpg
Interesting vessel at the harbor

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7934.jpg
The "Palette Town" Ferris-wheel at Odaiba, which we rode


Getting ready to ride the Palette Town (on the fully-transparent gondola no less)

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0450.jpg
From the apex of the wheel once can see HND in the distance

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0462.jpg
View of central Tokyo from Odaiba

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7865.jpg
Shibuya

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0072.jpg
Hirakawa-Temman-gū, near our hotel.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0109.jpg
The enormous Tokyo Sky Tree, officially not open until May 2012. At 2080ft tall (634m) it's the 2nd tallest structure in the world behind Burj Khalifa.

Lunch at a traditional restaurant:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7844.jpg
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http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7848.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7854.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7859.jpg
Statue of Hachiko, the dog that waited for its dead owner to show up at the train station for several years. You may have seen the movie about him.


Continued below...


Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
47 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 16978 times:

A few photos from the Meiji Shrine on a very rainy day:

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7806.jpg
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http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7810.jpg
Purification fountain at the entrance of the shrine

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7822.jpg
Barrels of sake outside the Meiji Shrine

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0076.jpg
The rain kept going strong near Shinjuku hiding most of its skyline

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7823.jpg
Conveyor belt Sushi at its best

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7827.jpg
...and with a huge Tuna in full view

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7824.jpg
Delicious fish roe sushi

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0160-1.jpg
Fugu! We just weren't feeling well enough to give it a shot...

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0080.jpg
Shinjuku Gyoen Park

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The Asahi Beer HQs, with the famous golden turd on the roof.

Photos from around the Imperial Palace
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0055.jpg
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http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0370.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0378-1.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0381.jpg

Photos from the Asakusa Shrine:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7839.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0113.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0115.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0120.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0123.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0129.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0132.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0136.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0137.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0143.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0151.jpg


TOKYO CRUISE

.
Line: Sumida Line
Route: Asakusa-Hinode Pier (via Hamarikyu)
Operator: Tokyo Cruise (SujoBus)
Vessel: River Town (リバー タウン)

On our 3rd day in town we decided to take a boat ride from Asakusa down the Sumida river to the Hinode area near the main port. Our boat was a double-decker and we decided to seat at the lower level where it was much quieter. Because of the gloomy weather the photos I shot from the boat do not do justice to the lovely urban landscapes we came across. Here are a few photos:


http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0171.jpg
Our boat waiting at Asakusa

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0166.jpg
Boat ride ticket

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0242.jpg
Boat interior

A few photos from the boat ride:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0182.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0210.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0237-1.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0246.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0285.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0294.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0295-1.jpg
Our boat anchored at Hinode Pier

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0297.jpg
A slightly older boat next to the pier

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0304.jpg
Time for the return to Asakusa

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0319.jpg
An elevated train station near Shimbashi

Views of Tokyo from the Metropolitan Gov Building Observatory:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0431.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0398.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0430.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0418.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0406.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0399.jpg
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0424.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7772.jpg
Near the Ginza

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_7776.jpg
Hibiya Park

CONCLUSION OF PART I

Not sure what to say about United. I guess I don't know what exactly they did wrong with our reservation so I cannot be specific about it. Maybe it was something to do with the integration of their electronic systems, or perhaps it was something that went wrong during check-in at ORD. Bottom line is that once more something went wrong while flying with them. As for the flights themselves, they were subpar too. I mean, a 4-hour flight with just a drink or two, and not even a pack of peanuts? Sure, they offered meals for purchase, but last time I checked UA was not a LoCo. But perhaps I am being unfair. This is how the industry is for most part nowadays. I shouldn't single UA out.

ANA on the other hand was superb. The staff was friendly and extremely helpful, the aircraft was in an immaculate condition and with a very functional cabin and the service was one of the best I've had (perhaps not as good as on OZ but pretty close).

As for Tokyo, it is hard to put into words how much this city has to offer. Sure, it is huge and a bit overwhelming but once you get used to it you can't help but love it.

Our next stop after Tokyo was the island of Hokkaido at the very north of Japan. All about this segment of the trip can be found in Part II coming up next.

Stay tuned for the 2nd part titled "ANAbelievable Japan: Chillin in Sapporo. Literally".

Thanks for reading!

WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinechepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6225 posts, RR: 11
Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 16610 times:

Excellent trip report, can't wait for the second part. Your pictures took my back to my visit to Tokyo back in Nov. 2010. Very true, at first sight it is very overwhelming, however, once you get used to it you just can't help but fall in love with the city/.


Fly the Flag!!!!
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6858 posts, RR: 77
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 16571 times:

Hi WideBodyroga,

great report with many stunning pictures! NH's long-haul product looks impressive. I really need to visit Japan again - ANA's 787 would be a good option.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The options for getting to Tokyo from Chicago were plenty but my wife (despite being a very proud American) vetoed all US carriers on the Trans-Pacific segment (she knows better).

Well done!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Tight legroom, just a drink (no snack) for a 4-hour flight, United's service is as basic as one can imagine.

How disappointing. Even some LCCs offer a better product.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
However they diplomatically avoided answering my questions about how UA had messed up, presumably not wanting to expose their colleagues. How professional.

  

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I decided to try the advertised, ANA original, "Aromatic Kabosu", a soft drink made of a Japanese variety of lime. I loved it. Our meal options were a Japanese tray containing a chicken Teriyaki main dish with vegetables, fish salad, egg and spinach salad, soba noodles with sauce, and some fruit, or a Western tray containing seafood pasta with vegetables, a salmon salad, pickled mushrooms and peppers, a block of cheese and a fresh bread roll. Both meals came with a bottle of water. I chose the Western, while my wife opted for the Japanese. The portions were very generous, the quality exceptional, and I should not forget to mention the ANA-branded metal cutlery! I opted for a beer while my wife had some white wine. For dessert we were each given a Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice-cream cup but both of us were too stuffed to finish it. Finally we were offered some delicious Japanese green tea.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Food and drinks menu:

Very, very impressive. High-quality catering on ANA!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4275 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 15899 times:

Hi WideBodyroga

fantastic to read your first installment on the Japan tour!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
As a result we wanted to take a 10-day holiday in the Spring and travel somewhere (preferably) far away. After much thinking we narrowed our options down to 2 alternatives. 1) A trip to the BeNeLux

Hmm,... so Benelux is next on the list?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Well, my bank (which I have since abandoned) had this ingenious rule where all transactions with foreign companies (even if the transaction is in US dollars) are subject to a 3% fee. I found this the hard way when I booked some flights on LH's American website, paid in US$, yet I was charged almost $100 in "foreign transaction" fees.

Bye bye to the bank. F*ck them, this is insane. I would never ever accept this and, I think, it is even forbidden for banks to do this in my country.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
At 4am the following morning, we jumped onto a cab and after 30 mins of rocking on to "Jesus FM" we got dropped off at ORD.

Jesus FM? I guess I would jump out and take another cab...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Tight legroom, just a drink (no snack) for a 4-hour flight, United's service is as basic as one can imagine.

Really poor, this company will not get my money when I'm over to the US again.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
After waiting for about 30 mins we managed to speak to an agent who informed us that she could not issue us the boarding passes and that we had to go to the International Terminal and get them from ANA.

Unbelievable how bad UA is! And this is within the same alliance even. They mess up a booking made on their own website... Would a strong complain make sense?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
We explained that we had just arrived from Chicago, that we had already checked our bags at ORD and that all we wanted was our boarding passes to NRT. He asked us to join the main check-in line but a few minutes later he came back and asked us to follow him to the business class check-in counter where another agent would help us. How nice of him!

First touches of Japanese hospitality! Love it!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
In general my impression of the ANA staff was extremely positive. They took interest in us, helped us avoid the unnecessary long wait to get our boarding passes and solved the ticket issue, all the while being extremely friendly and pleasant. I wish everyone was like that.

All Japanese airlines are like this, no doubts about that. That's one reason I love this country for!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
we took our seats one row behind the bulkhead. Of course in front of us there was a family with a baby. There's always one.

Yes, the downside of sitting at or near a bulkhead. Baby basinets are placed here, so it can also become a miserable 12 hours when the child is crying all time and the parents are also not the kind of people you want to see... for me on longhauls in Y, as far as possible from a bulkhead   Just to be sure...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I couldn't wait to get to Hokkaido before having a cold Sapporo Beer.

I prefer Sapporo Beer over Asahi Super Dry. Good choice ANA! JAL serves Asahi btw

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
While waiting, a couple of security guards (policemen?) walked up to us and in a very friendly manner asked to see our passports. Each of them took out a notebook and wrote down the details of our documents. No idea why. The guy who was examining my passport asked me what country it was from. When I told him, he looked confused and asked me what continent that country was in. I told him it's in Europe, to which he responded with a prolonged "ooooh" and a nod.

Never heard about this. You look suspicious to them haha

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Japanese-style toilet with all the quirky extras

Love it. Can spend all day on it LOL

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
At about 2am I woke up feeling someone shaking me. I opened my eyes and saw everything in the room moving back and forth. The bag I had left on the table was rocking so violently that it almost fell to the ground. I guess Tokyo wasted no time in welcoming us with a decent size earthquake.

Yokoso Japan! That's always possible in this country. Or a good typfoon in late summer... As long as it stays like this, not too bad and maybe (nice) experience for us not used to it. But we all have seen how bad the outcome of a strong earthquake can be, even in a country like Japan. I wish that would never happen again.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The only thing that we wanted to do but failed to was to visit the famous Tsukiji fish market for a fresh fish breakfast. But let's face it, who wakes up at 4am to take the train in order to eat raw fish, when terribly sick and jet lagged? Well, we were genuinely willing to but we just physically couldn't...

I've been to Japan and Tokyo about 15 times now, and have done and seen all you featured in this tripreport. But also for me, even not being sick, never visited the fishmarket. I think I couldn't make the 4am target in the morning  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Interesting vessel at the harbor

Looks like a RoRo, car transport?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
As for Tokyo, it is hard to put into words how much this city has to offer. Sure, it is huge and a bit overwhelming but once you get used to it you can't help but love it.

Indeed.... even when you visit a lot of times, it keeps attracting me also. Can't help to return to this place in late summer when I noticed the great SU offer from Europe. Currently I'm making a travel plan to spend about 15 days in the country. Looking forward to this trip!

Looking forward to your Hokkaido part, an area which I have not been to yet so that would be very interesting to read for me.

Regards
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3311 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 15889 times:

Great report Stojan! Good to see you having a good time in Japan even if you were both sick.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
"Your connecting boarding passes cannot be processed at an airport kiosk. Please proceed to directly to the United ticket counter at your originating airport to obtain your boarding passes".

Ha, what a hassle. I see that *A have stopped harping on about "seamless connections" so much so obviosuly they know things aren't very smooth. Shame that UA managed to ruin your outbound flights. Perhaps you should have gone on BA via LHR to HND?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
What I loved about the new cabin however is the seat reclining mechanism. Instead of compromising the space of the person behind you, this reclining method uses you own leg space in order to recline your seat. Instead of your seat-back reclining backwards, this mechanism slides your bum forward, hence pulling the lower side of your seat-back forward and down. No need to feel guilty for reclining with these seats. You just use your own (already generous) leg space. Ingenious! I have suffered enough from overenthusiastic over-recliners over the years. All of us have.

Isn't that the same system that CX tried to almost unanimous hatred by Y pax? It's one thing on a full flight, but annoying to loose your own legroom on an empty flight with no one sitting behind

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Japanese Meal

food looks great

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The amazing view from our hotel room by day

Looks like you chose of good hotel. I used to stay at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, which had great views, although alas it closed down a few years ago. V sad.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineQuokkas From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 15641 times:

Hi Widebodyroga,

An excellent trip report with some wonderful shots in Tokyo.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 1):
Not sure what to say about United.

They're consistent? It seems that you have no joy with them whenever you travel with them. ANA on the other hand is in a different league altogether.

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to Part 2.

Roy/ Quokkas


User currently onlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 1005 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 15621 times:

Enjoyable read!
Great pictures of Tokyo too! Would love to visit Japan some time.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
vetoed all US carriers on the Trans-Pacific segment (she knows better)

You have a clever wife

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
paid in US$, yet I was charged almost $100 in "foreign transaction" fees.

That's riddiculous!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Surprisingly UA had not bothered to tell us about it. I was not happy about this. I decided to keep checking our reservations every few days in case more changes were made without notification.

UA has never called me when a reservation had been changed. DL always calls me, even if it's just a flightnumber change.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Departure Management Card idea on 3 different occasions (you can read about one of them HERE)

A what? I guess have another report to read.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
How nice of him

The good-service from a non-US carrier is already starting!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Ingenious! I

Indeed!


User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1751 posts, RR: 30
Reply 8, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 15616 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hello Widebodyroga,

Excellent stuff my friend. Very nice destination pics of Tokyo. And thanks for providing an insight into ANA, an airline that is not much featured here. I'm very glad to see they were of excellent standard as opposed to UA. What a mess with your tickets, lucky for you the ANA checkin staff saved the day for you.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
1) A trip to the BeNeLux

Next time then hopefully? I'll show you around (well, not in the whole of BeNeLux of course  )

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
What's more, both our Trans-Pacific segments were to be operated by NH's recently refurbished 777-300ERs with the new cabins.

That's really something to look forward to!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
the aircraft was meant to have a 2-4-3 configuration in economy

That's a strange config. Was it really like that on the plane?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The neon lights at the underground walkway connecting the B & C concourses at ORD

That looks nice and modern.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I was sleepless, tired and annoyed.

I can understand your aggrevation. No excuse for UA here and glad the ANA staff came to the rescue because otherwise I think it would've been a lost battle.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Instead of your seat-back reclining backwards, this mechanism slides your bum forward, hence pulling the lower side of your seat-back forward and down.

I believe CX has these seats as well. Mixed reviews although on these seats...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Japanese Meal
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Western Meal

Well presented and tasty by the looks of it!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I guess Tokyo wasted no time in welcoming us with a decent size earthquake.

Blimey, that was scary, no?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Fugu! We just weren't feeling well enough to give it a shot...

The more poisonous than poison fish. Probably cultivated on an industrial scale and thus harmless but nevertheless...

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1836 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 15562 times:

Hi Widebodyroga

What a great report! The quality of the food and the presentation really look very nice. There are not many airlines still serving up something like that in Economy Class I don't think. It's also amazing to see how all the dishes on the food tray are perfectly aligned. That's what I like so much about Japan and the Japanese, their amazing attention to detail.

Thanks for posting!

Cheers,
William


User currently offlinewin1290 From Thailand, joined Jan 2012, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 15059 times:

Hi WideBodyroga,

Thanks for the very nice trip report! ANA looks very nice indeed. Food looks very neat and well-presented. Love the pictures on the menu too. Your pictures in Tokyo made me really excited about my upcoming trip to the city later in the week  .

Thanks

Win


User currently offlineEmpressOfCanada From Canada, joined Mar 2012, 9 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 14955 times:

Wow, fantastic TR, great pics! Tokyo is now on my bucket list! Can't wait for part 2! Thanks : )

User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1954 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 14400 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report, widebodyroga!

I love your photos from Japan - I'd love to vist; its definitely on my bucket list.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Erm...Okay...

Haha! I love this ... Airline humor.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I also noticed that our departure from ORD to LAX was pushed back by 45 minutes (hence making our layover at LAX dangerously short). Surprisingly UA had not bothered to tell us about it. I was not happy about this. I decided to keep checking our reservations every few days in case more changes were made without notification.

This happened to us when flying UA through IAD to connect to SAS and CPH. We had a ridiculously tight connection, and barely made our SAS flight. Thank god my fiancee and I are good runners ...  

Best,

Matthew


User currently offlineAvianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5934 posts, RR: 40
Reply 13, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 14326 times:

what great report!

I have a Japan visit long overdue! but now with this report I want to go even this year!
Unforutnately the flights ex CCS to Japan a little bit complicate or with LH via Europe (surprinsigly the fastest connection) its very expensive! But let see if I can make it still this year.

Thanks and regards
Avianca



Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
User currently online817Dreamliiner From Montserrat, joined Jul 2008, 2489 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (2 years 7 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 13996 times:

Great report!

great pics as well, cant wait to read your part 2 of your trip report. Japan is on my list of places to visit someday, hopefully ill visit there someday ad fly NH as well! 



Reality be Rent. Synapse, break! Vanishment, This World!
User currently onlinetriple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 750 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 7 months 23 hours ago) and read 13700 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A much more northerly path than expected for this particular route

It is not uncommon for flights to take a northerly route especially during the winter months. I saw your TR on Asiana, and you went up over 70 degrees north. I have done that twice on AA JFK-NRT and DFW-NRT (which normally does not go that far north). At least you get some nice scenery over the coast of California and Alaska.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Our 5 days in Tokyo were spent roaming around trying to see as many places as we could. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side as it was rainy for most part.

Unfortunately it can rain for 2 or 3 days without letting up at all...you think it will never stop. I learned to keep my umbrella with me.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The only thing that we wanted to do but failed to was to visit the famous Tsukiji fish market for a fresh fish breakfast. But let's face it, who wakes up at 4am to take the train in order to eat raw fish, when terribly sick and jet lagged? Well, we were genuinely willing to but we just physically couldn't...

I lived in Soka, just outside Tokyo for 4 years and never visited the Tsukiji Fish Market. Problem was the trains didn't run that early, so I would have needed to stay near there the night before.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Statue of Hachiko, the dog that waited for its dead owner to show up at the train station for several years. You may have seen the movie about him.

Hachiko is a famous meeting place as a lot of young people hang out in Shibuya. The movie about Hachi with Richard Gere is excellent.

It sounds like you had a great time in Japan and I especially enjoyed your pics of Tokyo as I used to live there. Seeing the pics at LAX reminded me of a trip I took from LAX-NRT 7 years ago with my 2 cats. I will give you the link to that TR. Enjoy your time in Japan! DFW-LAX-NRT With 2 Cats (by Triple7man Jun 3 2005 in Trip Reports)



Have you kissed a 777 today?
User currently offlinebritjap From Japan, joined Aug 2006, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (2 years 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 13506 times:

Hi WBRoga

Nice report. Glad you seem to have enjoyed yourself over here, despite the issues with illness.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
What I loved about the new cabin however is the seat reclining mechanism.

Yes yes yes!!!!!!! I have seen so many people complain about seats like this that have been used by CX. But I flew on ANA from FRA to NRT a few weeks ago on a 77W with this same new interior config, and these seats are just about the best thing in passenger comfort since...... flamin' pressurised cabins were created!!!! I really don't care that I lose some of my own leg room as long as I dont have to spend 11 hours crushed up in my seat because the A**hole in front of me reclines the second the seat belt sign goes out.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Branded metal cutlery. It subsequently mysteriously disappeared and found its way to my bag

Tsk tsk tsk!!! Shocking behaviour for a gentleman to admit to.  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Our bus was meant to stop at 4 hotels in the Akasaka area.

Akasaka?!! You should have told me you were coming. I could have showed you around.

Looking forward to part two.

BTW I like your title page/image

[Edited 2012-04-02 07:52:50]

User currently offlineCaptainRed From Germany, joined Oct 2010, 698 posts, RR: 21
Reply 17, posted (2 years 7 months 17 hours ago) and read 13257 times:

Hello Widebodyroga,

what an amazing report, really loved it. Good idea to go to Japan on your vacation, this must be a special place. Never been there myself, but your report really sparked my desire to go there.

Too bad about your experience with UA. Problems like the one with your reservation can happen, but I think it wasn't handled well. I am pretty sure they could have already sort it in ORD. At least the ANA staff in LAX came to your rescue. Actually UA was once my favorite airline in the 90s, when I have done a few transatlantic flights with them. Sad to see what has become of them.

But it seems that ANA compensates a lot for the bad UA experience. Food looks really great.

Wonderful pictures you had taken during your visit in Tokyo. Too bad you didn't feel well, but great that you still managed to see so many things. Amazing city.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The neon lights at the underground walkway connecting the B & C concourses at ORD

I remember that tunnel from my visits to ORD, really liked it with all the light and sound effects. Plus the knowledge that widebody airplanes are taxiing right above your head makes this an interesting experience.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The menu. Good luck with that. Especially when no-one in the restaurant speaks a lick of English.

Seems like you have to use the point-and-shoot method then to order. Certainly a nice adventure   Actually all your food pictures really looked nice, amazing how the Japanese can even make intestines (yuck) look so delicious   ...

Now looking forward to the next part...

CaptainRed


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 18, posted (2 years 7 months 15 hours ago) and read 13105 times:

Thank you so much for your responses so far guys. I really appreciate it.

Quoting chepos (Reply 2):

Excellent trip report, can't wait for the second part. Your pictures took my back to my visit to Tokyo back in Nov. 2010. Very true, at first sight it is very overwhelming, however, once you get used to it you just can't help but fall in love with the city/.

Thanks chepos. How was Tokyo in November? I have only been there in Spring/early Summer.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 3):
great report with many stunning pictures! NH's long-haul product looks impressive. I really need to visit Japan again - ANA's 787 would be a good option.

Thanks PH! NH was great and so was Japan overall (despite the circumstances). The 787 would definitely be the ideal way to visit the country nowadays  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 3):
How disappointing. Even some LCCs offer a better product.

Isn't it funny when a LCC (Southwest) offers more in terms of in-flight service than a Legacy airline like UA? I think that what defines a LCC nowadays is simply whether they assign seats or not...

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
fantastic to read your first installment on the Japan tour!

Thanks Eric!

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Hmm,... so Benelux is next on the list?

It's definitely high on the list, but as I mentioned at the beginning of the TR, it will be a while before we take a long trip again.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Bye bye to the bank. F*ck them, this is insane. I would never ever accept this and, I think, it is even forbidden for banks to do this in my country.

I waved them goodbye soon after that fiasco. My new bank is so much better.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Jesus FM? I guess I would jump out and take another cab...

Haha, same here but, alas, we were in a hurry to make it to the airport on time. At some point I couldn't help but start giggling at the lyrics until my wife poked me reminding me to be respectful. She is much more politically correct than I am. Especially at 4 in the morning 
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Really poor, this company will not get my money when I'm over to the US again.

I don't see myself flying with UA again (out of choice) to be honest.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Unbelievable how bad UA is! And this is within the same alliance even. They mess up a booking made on their own website... Would a strong complain make sense?

You have a point. I should write a complaint but I wonder if they will even read it.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Yes, the downside of sitting at or near a bulkhead. Baby basinets are placed here, so it can also become a miserable 12 hours when the child is crying all time and the parents are also not the kind of people you want to see... for me on longhauls in Y, as far as possible from a bulkhead   Just to be sure...

Good idea. I used to be excited about bulkheads but over time I have come to realize that they are overrated.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
I prefer Sapporo Beer over Asahi Super Dry. Good choice ANA! JAL serves Asahi btw

ANA offered Sapporo, Asahi and Kirin. I had to try all 3 
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Never heard about this. You look suspicious to them haha

Yes, indeed... It used to be even worse in the past when I sported long hair and a beard 
Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
I've been to Japan and Tokyo about 15 times now, and have done and seen all you featured in this tripreport. But also for me, even not being sick, never visited the fishmarket. I think I couldn't make the 4am target in the morning

15 times? Wow, that is quite some love you got for Tokyo. I don't blame you though. If it was up to me, I would visit every year. I hear that the Tsukiji market will move to Toyosu in the near future. I think that was my last chance to visit it in its original location.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Looks like a RoRo, car transport?

Quite possibly. It looks like one.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 4):
Looking forward to your Hokkaido part, an area which I have not been to yet so that would be very interesting to read for me.

Thanks Eric. I should have it up within the week.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Great report Stojan! Good to see you having a good time in Japan even if you were both sick.

Hey Gab, thanks!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Perhaps you should have gone on BA via LHR to HND?

Now that is an idea... 
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Isn't that the same system that CX tried to almost unanimous hatred by Y pax? It's one thing on a full flight, but annoying to loose your own legroom on an empty flight with no one sitting behind

Yeah, not everyone is a fan of them, but I guess as far as I'm concerned I'm more likely to benefit from these seats than not.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 5):
Looks like you chose of good hotel. I used to stay at the Akasaka Prince Hotel, which had great views, although alas it closed down a few years ago. V sad.

I have heard lots of good things about Akasaka Prince. Too bad it shut down. The hotel we stayed at was not too far from it. I would highly recommend it.

Quoting Quokkas (Reply 6):
An excellent trip report with some wonderful shots in Tokyo.

Thanks Roy! Glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting Quokkas (Reply 6):
They're consistent? It seems that you have no joy with them whenever you travel with them. ANA on the other hand is in a different league altogether.

Haha, you can say that. I was impressed with ANA on this segment. I'm looking forward to fly with them again.

Quoting Quokkas (Reply 6):
Thanks for sharing. I look forward to Part 2.

Thank you!

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 7):

Enjoyable read!
Great pictures of Tokyo too! Would love to visit Japan some time.

Thanks Robert! It's one of those places you have to visit at least once in your lifetime!

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 7):
You have a clever wife

Hehe, I know. She knows to appreciate the good stuff. 
Quoting roberts87 (Reply 7):
That's riddiculous!

Tell me about it. Like I already mentioned, I switched banks so I don't have to deal with them anymore.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 7):
UA has never called me when a reservation had been changed. DL always calls me, even if it's just a flightnumber change.

Exactly! DL has always informed me of the slightest change in a reservation. What's UA's deal that doesn't bother to do so? How hard can it be? It could all be done automatically as far as I know.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 7):
A what? I guess have another report to read.

Ah yes, the D.M.C. I wanna slap whoever came up with it  
Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
Excellent stuff my friend. Very nice destination pics of Tokyo. And thanks for providing an insight into ANA, an airline that is not much featured here. I'm very glad to see they were of excellent standard as opposed to UA. What a mess with your tickets, lucky for you the ANA checkin staff saved the day for you.

Hey Nils, thanks! Yes, UA and NH - as different as day and night...

Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
Next time then hopefully? I'll show you around (well, not in the whole of BeNeLux of course &nbsp Wink

That would be great! Besides I still owe you a cold one!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
That's a strange config. Was it really like that on the plane?

Yes indeed. For most of the aircraft's length (in economy) this was the configuration. We sat on the side with the 2 seats, so we had both a window and an isle seat. It was great.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
I believe CX has these seats as well. Mixed reviews although on these seats...

Yeah. Like I mentioned above, they get my vote but I understand how some people can find them annoying.

Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
Blimey, that was scary, no?

Yeah, I was shaken (pun intended) after it happened. Maybe it startled me more than it would otherwise because it happened while I was asleep

Quoting sultanils (Reply 8):
The more poisonous than poison fish. Probably cultivated on an industrial scale and thus harmless but nevertheless...

True. Still though, it was sad we couldn't say that we tried it....

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 9):
What a great report! The quality of the food and the presentation really look very nice. There are not many airlines still serving up something like that in Economy Class I don't think. It's also amazing to see how all the dishes on the food tray are perfectly aligned. That's what I like so much about Japan and the Japanese, their amazing attention to detail.

Thanks William! I guess Asian carriers (for most part) still offer a very good service in Economy. I loved the food presentation too. Every dish we had in Japan (on an aircraft or not) had a lovely and very orderly presentation.

Quoting win1290 (Reply 10):
Thanks for the very nice trip report! ANA looks very nice indeed. Food looks very neat and well-presented. Love the pictures on the menu too. Your pictures in Tokyo made me really excited about my upcoming trip to the city later in the week  .

Thanks Win! What airline are you flying with? Have a great time and do write a TR about it!

Quoting EmpressOfCanada (Reply 11):
Wow, fantastic TR, great pics! Tokyo is now on my bucket list! Can't wait for part 2! Thanks : )

Thanks Empress! It is almost halfway done  
Quoting 767747 (Reply 12):
Great report, widebodyroga!

I love your photos from Japan - I'd love to vist; its definitely on my bucket list.

Thanks Matthew! You should definitely visit!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 12):
Haha! I love this ... Airline humor.

Hehe, that's one way to look at it  
Quoting 767747 (Reply 12):
This happened to us when flying UA through IAD to connect to SAS and CPH. We had a ridiculously tight connection, and barely made our SAS flight. Thank god my fiancee and I are good runners ...  

That's ridiculous. They just don't think it's worth notifying the pax. I guess UA thinks it's the pax's responsibility to keep track of any changes... Not very professional if you ask me.

Quoting Avianca (Reply 13):

what great report!

I have a Japan visit long overdue! but now with this report I want to go even this year!
Unforutnately the flights ex CCS to Japan a little bit complicate or with LH via Europe (surprinsigly the fastest connection) its very expensive! But let see if I can make it still this year.

Thanks and regards
Avianca

Thank you Avianca! I'm glad that I gave you an extra incentive for wanting to visit this amazing country. I'm sorry to hear that it is so complicated to get there from CCS. I hope you can make it there very soon!

Quoting 817Dreamliiner (Reply 14):
Great report!

great pics as well, cant wait to read your part 2 of your trip report. Japan is on my list of places to visit someday, hopefully ill visit there someday ad fly NH as well! 

Thanks 817D!

Quoting triple7man (Reply 15):
It is not uncommon for flights to take a northerly route especially during the winter months. I saw your TR on Asiana, and you went up over 70 degrees north. I have done that twice on AA JFK-NRT and DFW-NRT (which normally does not go that far north). At least you get some nice scenery over the coast of California and Alaska.

You are right. My surprise for the northerly route we took comes from the fact that I had been monitoring the routes of the NH 5 flights (LAX-NRT on ANA) for several weeks prior to our trip and the vast majority of them followed a route that was considerably more southern. I'm glad we did take a northerly route though. Like you said, it offered some nice views of Alaska.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 15):
Unfortunately it can rain for 2 or 3 days without letting up at all...you think it will never stop. I learned to keep my umbrella with me.

Fortunately it was not windy so as long as you had an umbrella you were OK.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 15):
I lived in Soka, just outside Tokyo for 4 years and never visited the Tsukiji Fish Market.

I shouldn't feel too bad then  
Quoting triple7man (Reply 15):
Hachiko is a famous meeting place as a lot of young people hang out in Shibuya. The movie about Hachi with Richard Gere is excellent.

Indeed, the statue was surrounded by young folk. Shibuya was so insanely busy, we just went there to see Hachiko and then left right away to avoid the crowds.

Quoting triple7man (Reply 15):
It sounds like you had a great time in Japan and I especially enjoyed your pics of Tokyo as I used to live there. Seeing the pics at LAX reminded me of a trip I took from LAX-NRT 7 years ago with my 2 cats. I will give you the link to that TR.

Thanks triple7man! I just read your TR and the subsequent updates. I'm glad your cats made it fine to Japan. What an experience that must have been for you and for them! Fortunately I don't think I'll need to travel with a pet anytime soon. Also I am sorry to learn about the subsequent loss of your cats. They lived a long, and I'm sure very happy, life alongside you.

Quoting britjap (Reply 16):
Nice report. Glad you seem to have enjoyed yourself over here, despite the issues with illness.

Thanks Britjap!

Quoting britjap (Reply 16):
Yes yes yes!!!!!!! I have seen so many people complain about seats like this that have been used by CX. But I flew on ANA from FRA to NRT a few weeks ago on a 77W with this same new interior config, and these seats are just about the best thing in passenger comfort since...... flamin' pressurised cabins were created!!!! I really don't care that I lose some of my own leg room as long as I dont have to spend 11 hours crushed up in my seat because the A**hole in front of me reclines the second the seat belt sign goes out.

Amen, brother!   Couldn't agree more  
Quoting britjap (Reply 16):
Tsk tsk tsk!!! Shocking behaviour for a gentleman to admit to.  

I just couldn't help it. They looked so cute...

Quoting britjap (Reply 16):
Akasaka?!! You should have told me you were coming. I could have showed you around.

Is that where (or near where) you live? Given that whatever we had was probably contagious, it's probably better we didn't arrange to meet up!  
Quoting britjap (Reply 16):
Looking forward to part two.

BTW I like your title page/image

Thanks! I changed it many times before the final version.  
Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
what an amazing report, really loved it. Good idea to go to Japan on your vacation, this must be a special place. Never been there myself, but your report really sparked my desire to go there.

Thanks CaptainRed. I'm glad you liked it and that you are now considering visiting.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
Too bad about your experience with UA. Problems like the one with your reservation can happen, but I think it wasn't handled well. I am pretty sure they could have already sort it in ORD. At least the ANA staff in LAX came to your rescue. Actually UA was once my favorite airline in the 90s, when I have done a few transatlantic flights with them. Sad to see what has become of them.

I have seen quite a few airlines change (for the worst) over the years. I guess I never flew UA in during its good times so I can't really compare.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
Wonderful pictures you had taken during your visit in Tokyo. Too bad you didn't feel well, but great that you still managed to see so many things. Amazing city.

Thanks. Indeed, a one of a kind place.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
I remember that tunnel from my visits to ORD, really liked it with all the light and sound effects. Plus the knowledge that widebody airplanes are taxiing right above your head makes this an interesting experience.

Ah yes, I forgot to mention the sound effects. Very soothing. It's a cool place indeed.

Quoting CaptainRed (Reply 17):
Seems like you have to use the point-and-shoot method then to order. Certainly a nice adventure  Actually all your food pictures really looked nice, amazing how the Japanese can even make intestines (yuck) look so delicious   ...

Yup, absolutely, this is the method we used to order food most of the times. Good thing that the Japanese are so patient and polite so we always managed to communicate one way or another. As for the intestines.... Let's me just say that they were NOT the most unusual (or most commonly perceived as disgusting) food we had in Japan. In Hokkaido we tried some other foods that I'm pretty sure will make a few people gag. 

WideBodyroga



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinewin1290 From Thailand, joined Jan 2012, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (2 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 12448 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 18):
Thanks Win! What airline are you flying with? Have a great time and do write a TR about it!

Thanks! I will be flying with Thai Airways, sure I will write about it.

Win


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 20, posted (2 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 12389 times:

HI

Nice trip report, good too see an ANA report! Their Y class looks miles ahead of other products.
Nice pics in Tokyo as well


Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1224 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 11873 times:

Tokyo seems to have changed a lot since I was there in 1977. Thanks for all the pics.

User currently offline777ER From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 12221 posts, RR: 18
Reply 22, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 11762 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

Maybe snacks weren't offered due to the departure time from ORD? On the red eye UA flights from LAX-ORD I've taken they didn't offer snacks but after asking I was given some - so they seem to be on the flight ready.

I've always booked my UA flights via NZ but after finally checking fares last year I've decided I can fly first class on US for less then what NZ charges me to connect to UA.


User currently offlineAvianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5934 posts, RR: 40
Reply 23, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 11327 times:

I just made some more research on a possible trip to Japan this year, your report is really facinating!

Would be October still a good season to travel to Tokyo?

found some good fares on United flights... out of CCS, the one what is luring my eys is the following.

CCS-IAH-EWR-NRT-LAX-IAH-CCS for just 2000 USD all in!

Is 1 week just enough for Tokyo or can be a side trip to Okinawa (2 days) squeezed in?

Thanks and cheers
Avianca



Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27163 posts, RR: 60
Reply 24, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 11184 times:

Hey great report and lovely photos. Always wanted to go to Japan and fly either ANA or JAL.

Seems like a pretty decent service.

Regards

Philip  


25 Post contains images deltamartin : Hello WideBodyroga! Nice report! Good to see that you had a good time in Tokyo, how exiting with that earthquake! Too bad about both of you getting si
26 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Thanks for all the additional comments guys! That sounds great. Have a great time and I'm looking forward to your report! Thanks Marc! I appreciate it
27 Avianca : well never traveled on UA - only on the old CO ... but I am a heavy CM traveller so I am OnePass (or what is the name now') member, and my objective
28 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi Roga, An excellent primer on the most touristic spots in Tokyo! Thank you - some good pictures there and as usual a very nice write up. Will defini
29 Post contains links and images Widebodyroga : I see, that makes sense then. I have some miles on OnePass (MileagePlus now) too and I am only a couple hundred away from an award... The easiest way
30 SR117 : Hey there Widebodyroga, many thanks for the excellent report and the many great pictures. Good choice, a trip to Japan is always very satisfying and n
31 Post contains images dc9northwest : Hi again Widebodyroga, I'm guessing you showed the Bulgarian passport, then? Reminds me of abrelosojos' stories about his Liechtenstein passport aroun
32 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Hey Ricardo, thanks for your kind words! Yes indeed. If I ever find myself at LAX again I will just walk the distance without any second thoughts abo
33 Post contains images sjacob : Man, what a wonderful report...I loved it absolutely. I tbrought back so many sweet memories of my stay in Tokyo, Odaiba and all those places, Tokyo i
34 Post contains images airbusmango : Your trip report makes me miss Japan even more! It's nice to see that we both went to or saw several places like Palette Town in Odaiba, Tokyo Metropo
35 Post contains images globalflyer : Hi Stojan... I finally am able to start to catch up on reading TR's. Wow, what can I say. UA really put you all through the ringer. I was exhausted ju
36 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Thank you sjacob! I agree that Tokyo is unique in so many ways. Thank you Hafiz! Indeed, it seems that we hit the same places. Not a surprise really,
37 Post contains images LH4116 : Hi there WBroga, fantastic report! Seriously, what happened to the mandatory vacation weeks? Unless that's unheard of in the United States… Are you
38 Post contains links and images Widebodyroga : Hey Jonas. Thanks for your comments! This is mainly the result of a combination of a brutal medical school regime and a demanding schedule at work (u
39 airbusmango : Nah, I didn't. My main objective in going to Odaiba is to just see the Ferris Wheel and the Fuji TV Station! Besides, we didn't have that much time o
40 abrelosojos : Thank you for a very entertaining trip report. I am a big fan of ANA and was not too surprised to see them perform well again. Few thoughts: = Let's p
41 Post contains images dc9northwest : Yeah, don't ask. They like to push us to the limit in the US Yes, it's pretty much a similar view here, haha I generally don't take offense--but I wo
42 Lucky727 : Thank you for a great report - very nicely written, and your photos are amazing. I've always wanted to visit Japan & this makes me want to go even
43 Post contains links and images Widebodyroga : On clear days the views can be pretty nice from the Wheel. If you ever choose to ride it go for the colorful gondolas. The transparent ones don't off
44 Post contains images groobster : Wow wow wow! Amazing pictures, in fact some of them are near identical to ones taken by myself when I visited Tokyo back in January 2003. Particularly
45 Post contains images Widebodyroga : Hey Groobster, thanks! It's too bad that it was cloudy/foggy on that day. I was hoping for a clearer look of the bridge from the river. At least we g
46 stevenlee505 : Great trip report. I didn't check the dates and thought the earthquake you experienced was the one that devastated Japan back in March 2011.
47 Widebodyroga : Thanks Steven, I apologize for I now realize that my title was a bit misleading. I should have chosen my words more carefully. I should have written
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