We had been planning this trip for a long time and spent many hours
doing research and investigating. Finally, it was time to begin our
journey to Japan! Since we had an early flight, we spent the night in a
hotel near the Denver airport. We flew from Denver to Dallas, and then
Dallas to Tokyo. The best part about this long journey, business
class! We booked our tickets using frequent flier miles and were
able to use enough miles to get business class seats.
Erin and Tyler in first class on our flight to Dallas.
We had a nice short flight to Dallas and just enough time to grab a
drink and a snack at the lounge before boarding our 777 for Tokyo.
Our 777 plane to Tokyo
Tyler and Erin had never flown business class before and were both pretty excited by the seats.
Business Class Seating
Erin was able to enjoy a small glass of Champagne while waiting to take off for what would be a long flight to Tokyo.
The flight to Tokyo was almost 14 hours. We took off exactly on
time, but arrived about a half hour late due to unfavorable
weather. The route we were supposed to take was very choppy, so
we had to fly further south. Unfortunately, there was a much
stronger headwind on the southern route, so we were in the air for a
solid 13 and a half hours. Thank goodness we were in business
class. It would have been horrible in coach. I think we all
got at least a couple hours of sleep on the flight, but it was still a
long time. The other reason it felt like it was so long was the
poor entertainment choices. When we flew to New Zealand on Air
New Zealand, the plane had on demand entertainment with about 500
choices. American had about 8 movies on an endless loop. It
could have been worse. The guy ahead of me didn't have a remote
at his seat and could only watch one channel for the entire flight so
he had to watch the same movie over and over.
Eventually, we did land at Tokyo's Narita airport. We were able
to get through immigration very quickly, picked up our luggage and went
through customs. Everything went very smoothly, we didn't even
have to wait for the luggage, it was already coming off the plane by
the time we made it to the baggage carousel. After customs we
headed downstairs and found the JR office to exchange our Japan Rail
pass vouchers for actual passes. We also bought our NEX + SUICA
tickets there. Narita airport is really far from Tokyo and they
have a special Narita Express (NEX) train that takes you into the
city. As foreigners, you can get a discounted NEX ticket along
with SUICA passes. SUICA passes are basically debit cards that
you can use for the public transportation around Tokyo. It is
much easier to get one of those than to have to buy individual tickets
each time you use transportation. We only had a short wait from
purchasing the tickets until it was time to board the NEX train.
The NEX goes straight to Shinjuku station in about an hour and a
half. Shinjuku station is the nearest station to the Park Hyatt
Tokyo where we spent our first 4 nights in Tokyo.
Happy to be on the NEX
Once we left the NEX and navigated through Shinjuku station, it finally
felt like we were in Japan. Narita airport barely felt foreign at
all. It is like any major airport around the world.
Shinjuku station is the world's busiest train station and as soon as
you get off the NEX train you can see why. There were people all
over, going in every direction. There are something like 200
exits from Shinjuku, so we were very careful to follow the signs
exactly to the West exit. We managed to find the exit without
much trouble and walked outside to try to find our hotel. Our
flight had landed at about 4:30 PM Japan time, so by this time it was
dark out. Luckily there are enough landmark buildings around
Shinjuku we were able to go right to our hotel and didn't get
lost. Between our maps and looking at Google Maps streetview
ahead of time, it was actually pretty easy to find our hotel.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is one of the premier hotels in all of Japan and
it was evident right from the start. When we arrived at the front
door, they asked us our names and took us directly to our room on the
42nd floor. There, the hostess checked us in right in our
room. It was very nice with how tired everyone was. The
staff at the hotel was amazing the whole time we were there (more on
that to come) and the room and view were fantastic. We were
really exhausted, though so we just dropped our stuff, and went to the
basement and had a quick dinner at Subway. We were too exhausted
to try anything else.
Continue to Day 1
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