Friday, November 3, 2023

Japan 2023 ✈ Sayonara Japan

We had originally planned to visit Japan in June 2020. Over the last 3 years, we had cancelled and rebooked this trip multiple times as Japan was one of the last few countries to reopen its borders to tourism post-Covid. After waiting for 3 years, we were glad to finally make this trip happen this year! This trip has been 3 years in the making and I must say Japan certainly lived up to our anticipation!

22 Apr 2023 (Sat): Osaka - Tokyo - US
After spending 5 days hopping around 4 cities in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe), it was finally time to begin our journey home...on 2 different routes. Hubby flew back to the US while I flew back to Malaysia to spend time with the family for a month before returning to the US.

Enjoyed our complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel before checking out at 9am.

Took the metro from Midosuji station to Namba station at 9.10am. We came with 2 luggages, but left with 3 luggages. 2 of those were mine as one of those luggage was already filled with stuffs that I brought from the US for family and friends. Glad we did our 'trial run' the day before and was able to use the elevator and escalators in both stations, and navigated our way efficeintly to the airport shuttle bus stop in Namba.

Our final leg of navigating public transportations in Japan. We successfully traveled all around the Kansai region with these 3 passes (3-day Kansai Thru Pass, 1-day Osaka Metro Pass, Suica prepaid card). Our total transportation costs for 2 person was ¥6,870 ($142).

Our flights departed from Osaka Itami Airport, which was closer to the city than Kansai airport. The most convenient and economical way for us to travel to Itami airport was to take the Itami-Airport Limousine Bus from Namba Station to Osaka Itami Airport. The bus leaves every 20 minutes and costs ¥650 ($5) per person. We wanted to use up our change so we used the ticket machine in the Family Mart next to the bus stop to purchase one of our tickets. We also used up our Apple Pay Suica card balance to pay for the other ticket.

Like everything in Japan, the bus left very punctually at 9.40am...on the dot. We arrived Itami Airport North terminal (for JAL flights) at 10.00am.

The first leg of our flights were domestic from Osaka to Tokyo. Even though we were both flying to Tokyo on JAL, we were flying to 2 different airports. My flight was to Narita while hubby's flight was to Haneda. I redeemed 40,000 Alaska miles for my flights from LAX - KIX; ITM - NRT - KUL in Economy. For hubby's return flight, we made a last minute change and redeemed 60,000 Alaska miles for his flights from ITM - HND - SFO in Business. Since we didn't get to experience JAL First Class (thanks Covid), and since I've had the chance to travel in business class for work, we decided to 'splurge' for his first ever international business class flight. =)

Check-in was quick and easy. Even though I was traveling in Economy, I was also able to use the Business Class check-in counter as I had Oneworld Emerald status.

We had about 2 hours before hubby's flight and 4 hours before my flight, and were able to visit either the JAL Sakura (Business class) or Diamond Premier Lounge (Oneworld Emerald) lounges, which were located next to each other. We opted to go to the Diamond Premier Lounge coz it's more 'exclusive'...haha!

Itami airport is not big so the lounge is not huge, but there were plenty of spaces to sit.

There is also a massage chair.

Only light refreshment provided in this lounge. There were beer machine, soup machine, and coffee machine.

Hubby's flight was at 12.30pm and mine was at 2.35pm. See you in 4 weeks!

My flight from ITM-NRT departed on time. Goodbye Osaka!

Arrived Narita at 4pm and got both my bags at 4.15pm. It was quite a long walk to the ANA Crowne Plaza hotel shuttle bus stop (#25) as it was located at the other end of the terminal. As I was trying to look if it was the right bus, I saw the staff closing the baggage compartment right in front of me. The bus departed on time at 4.20pm and I had to wait another 30 minutes for the next bus. Guess this is the 'benefit' of Japanese punctuality.

My next flight was at 11.15am the next day so I booked ANA Crowne Plaza Narita for 14,000 IHG points for my overnight transit in Narita. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle from the airport so it was very convenient. There is a Family Mart conveniently located inside the hotel so I bought some food for dinner there and called it a day.

While I spent the night in Narita, hubby was enjoying his business class experience... starting with a quick bite at the Haneda Airport JAL Sakura Lounge.

The homework I gave hubby for flying busines class was to take my photos and videos, and the amenity kit is mine. =P JAL business class on this flight is a 2-3-2 seating. The seat layout looks packed but surprisingly each seat was quite private after raising the blind between seats. Since we booked the flight late, there weren't many seat options available (no window seat), so we opted for the aisle seat in the last row of business class section. Even though hubby's seat was an aisle seat, he had a lot of privacy as there weren't any foot traffic of people walking by his seat. It was also a lie-flat seat so he was able to get a good rest on this 7-hour flight.

Food & drink options. Hubby went with the Western options.

As hubby's business class flight was only to SFO, we booked a separate flight from SFO-HSV for 15,500 American Airlines miles. He was also able to meet up and hang out with his best friend in San Francisco for a few hours during the layover.

23 Apr 2023 (Sun): Tokyo - Malaysia

After a good night's rest, I checked out of the hotel early the next morning and took the 6.50am complimentary hotel shuttle back to Narita airport.

Arrived the airport at 7am and the airport was quite busy already. 

 Even though I was flying economy, I was able to skip the long lines by checking-in at the JAL First Class counter and got priority baggage thanks to my Oneworld Emerald status.

The reason I went earlier to the airport was because I wanted to spend more time at the JAL First Class lounge, which I had access to with my status. =D The lounge opened at 7.30am and I was there at 7.40am, giving me 3 hours to enjoy the lounge before boarding.

Plenty of space in this lounge...and of course I've gotta use the massage chair.

Drinks options in this section of the lounge with lounge chairs and massage chairs.

I chose to sit in the dining area with sushi bar.

 Ala carte food options in the lounge ordered via the app. Ordered the Japanese meal combo, sushi, and champage for breakfast. =) 

That's a wrap for our 2023 Japan trip! Thankful that everything went smoothly and we were able to see and experience a lot of different things during this short trip! 
And my journey continued in Malaysia...

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