July 15, 2011

2010 Japan Christmas and New Year Tour

Got to travel to Tokyo, Japan! This was my first time visit land of the rising sun. This was also the first time I got fly Business Class. We had a travel agency to prepare everything for us. Personally I prefer planning my own trip because its cheaper and more exciting. But since this was a family vacation and a treat from my sister and brother in law, It would be easier and convenient for everyone if we let the experts plan the vacation. My visit to Japan was ok, but not I was expecting. Maybe it's just timing, because it was new years eve so many people were at home with their families.
Welcome to Japan Sign at Narita Airport
We flew PAL(Philippine Airlines) Business Class. One of the perks flying business class is the business class lounge. They offer small buffet and wifi access. Since there was no direct flight from Manila to Tokyo we arrived at Narita Airport.  Our tour is from December 29 to January 1 and costs US$863  per pack excluding the plane tickets. But we extended another day to have a morning tour of Tokyo via Japan Gray Line Morning tour. We went back to manila January 2 instead of January1.
PAL Business Class Seats
One of the menu on our PAL Business Class Flight to Japan

Narita to Tokyo by Bus
We arrived at terminal 2 of Narita airport around 6pm and it was freezing cold. Base on my research, taking the limousine bus is the best and cheapest choice to Tokyo, specially if you have many luggage. It costs 3000 yen per person. If you opt to take the train, better check first the route of the buses. Since some of them can pass by and directly drop you at your hotel. The Number 17 Bus that we rode dropped us at hotel which was Sunshine City Prince Hotel. I was amaze how respectful the Japanese were to each other. When a bus arrives, the bus driver goes out and greets his fellow employees and they bow to each other. And they always say thank you before they depart. It took 120 minutes to reach our Hotel from Narita Airport.
Limousine Bus Terminal Number 17 at Terminal 2 Narita Airport
First glimpse of Tokyo night lights
Cool Big TV Screen on a Building

Sunshine City Prince Hotel
We stayed at Sunshine City Prince Hotel. This is a 3 star hotel and very well-known and very old. I was shocked to receive a "actual" key to our rooms. And I thought everything in Japan is high-tech. I think I was in grade school when I last saw an actual key in Hotels. The rooms were just right and was clean. The air conditioning did have a little problem, but it was ok. Hotels in Japan are very expensive so better save for other things. I personally don't spend too much money in hotels since I'll just sleep there. Our package includes breakfast buffet.
Sunshine City Prince Hotel Room
Breakfast Buffet Table
Right beside the hotel is a Shopping mall called the Alpa Shopping Center. They have good Japanese Food there. More about Tokyo food.
Uni Qlo Sale at Alpa Shopping Center

Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland was our fist destination on our first day in Japan. Our package includes a private service with One Day Admission Ticket, which was very convenient. Luckily our driver can speak English so I had a chance to chat with him. The driver dropped us at Disneyland and said that we just call him what time he would come back. I was so excited that I didn't thought of the fact that it was the holidays. Holidays = Long lines. I was really disappointed that I only got to ride 3 attractions. I waited almost 3 hours per attraction. More on our trip to Tokyo Disneyland.
Main Entrance of Tokyo Disneyland
Disneyland Band Welcoming Guests

Dinner at Sunshine 60's Joe's Shanghai Restaurant
This is one of the most expensive Chinese restaurants I have ever eaten. This Chinese restaurant is located at the top of Sunshine 60 building which was then the tallest building in Tokyo. This would be considered as a fine dining restaurant like all the restaurants on that floor. The restaurants at Sunshine 60 has a breathtaking view of Tokyo skyline. I guess that's what you pay for. More on Joe's Shanghai Restaurant.
Joe's Shanghai Restaurant Waiting Area
Tokyo Skyline from Joe's Shanghai Restaurant

This tour is one of the best we had on our trip. We went to Mount Fuji by bus driving through a scenery of rural Japan. We were suppose to go to the 5th station(8,000 feet) of Mount Fuji, but due to bad weather we were only allowed until 2nd station. We had an awesome lunch at Hakone Lake Hotel. Then we rode Hakone Sky Gondola(Tram) to Owakudani Valley(Ancient Crater). Lastly we took a Pirate Boat Cruise on Lake Ashi. More on our Mount Fuji - Hakone Tour.
Mount Fuji 2nd Station
Mount Fuji View at Owakudani Valley

Few hours to go before the New Year, so I was looking for a place to hang out. I assumed that every city has a countdown event to celebrate the coming new year. I asked some Japanese where I can go, and they all pointed out to Odaiba. So we we went to Odaiba. But to my surprise there was no celebration, I can't understand why but there was no fireworks and no music or any noise. But I did saw a great view of Tokyo Rainbow Bridge. More on our New Year at Odaiba.
Tokyo Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba
Aqua City Shopping Mall

We extended our stay in Japan so we took a Morning Tour of Tokyo. We first went to Tokyo Tower which is the most well known landmark of Tokyo. Then we went to Asakusa Temple. Our next stop was the Imperial Palace, but sadly the emperor of Japan would show himself to the public the next day. Security was tight so we could not go to the East Garden. Lastly we were dropped at Ginza shopping district. More on our Japan Gray Line Morning Tour.
Tokyo Tower
Asakusa Temple
Imperial Palace Double Bridge
Ginza Shopping District

Roppongi Hills
Since it was January 1st almost all the shops were closed. Our tour guide said that Roppongi Hills is most likely open, and it was. Roppongi Hills is like the Ayala compound in Makati where we have several interconnected malls like Glorietta and Greenbelt. It has several attractions like the Tokyo City View. It is located at the Mori Tower and shows a 360 degree panoramic view of Tokyo. It's 250 meters high and is one of the tallest structures in Tokyo. Another attraction is the Mori Art Museum. The displays on the museum varies depending on which artist they feature. In our visit they were featuring "Odani Motohiko: Phantom Limb" which was somewhat dark in nature. More about Roppongi Hills.
Spider Sculpture in front of the Mori Tower
Bright Tokyo Tower from Mori Tower Tokyo City View

Things I admire about Tokyo, Japan
Clean Wide Streets of Tokyo
Very Clean Tokyo Garbage Trucks
Very Strict Building Construction Rules
Elevated Tokyo Freeway/Highway
Automatic Freeway/Highway Gates
Tokyo Subway
Spacious Tokyo Subway with Heated Soft Seats

Back to Manila
Went back to Narita Airport via Limousine bus. There is a bus stop outside the hotel so it was convenient. We checked in with Philippine Airlines' Business Class. There was also a business class lounge for PAL in Narita Airport but there was no food served unlike in the Philippines. Just drinks and cereals. After waiting at the lounge for few hours we boarded and went back to Manila. Our trip was short and I hope I could go back to Japan when the cherry blossoms bloom.
Narita Airport
Narita Airport Philippine Airlines Business Class Check-in
Narita Airport Planes
Narita Airport PAL Business Class Lounge Buffet Table
Narita Airport PAL Business Class Lounge Seats


More details on our Japan Itinerary

2 comments:

melvin said...

I've been to beijing during spring so next target ko is japan during autumn,thanks for this post.gawin ko tong guide but i think sa osaka ako kung sakali kasi cebupacific lang maafford ko.hehehe.

Keith said...

They say Osaka is better.. Good luck!