When I was booking our flight to Tokyo, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was economically feasible for Turkish Airlines to have two flights daily to Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). We had flown with them before on other long-haul flights to Singapore and Bangkok and I remember stretching myself on a whole row of seats, like the rest of the few passengers. I expected (and hoped for) a similar situation as I figured there can’t be that many Turks going to Japan on a daily basis.
I completely oversaw the fact that the Japanese, arguably, are among the people most prone to go ‘places’. And beautiful Istanbul is surely one of these ‘must see’ places bringing over thousands of Japanese tourists each week. So yeah, the plane was completely full, and there was only six of us in Economy class that did not appear to be of Japanese origin.
Not much happened during the flight, Miss Z. slept throughout and Hubs and I tried to pass time by watching some movies and napping here and there.
We landed at Narita International Airport on time and shortly afterwards all passengers unloaded themselves in a prompt and orderly fashion. Going through immigration was painless, no lines like the ones we’re used to when entering the US. We were given 90 day stamps in our passports and moved on to the baggage area. I have the habit of spending the time by the belt glancing over the faces of fellow passengers as well as exploring the surrounding area; I’d do it mostly to look for clues that I am in such and such country. But not much here really reminded me that I was in Japan, it more looked like New York sans the Japanese signs (English below it) and the higher percentage of Asian looking people around me. The bathroom in the baggage claim area was different though – it opened at the push of a button and inside was one of them fancy ‘japanese’ toilets with all the gizmos they’re known for.So suitcases started coming out and my eye for detail noticed that most rivaled in size our carry-on luggage (and were completely dwarfed by our checked luggage). This was a tendency that persisted throughout our journey. In addition, all suitcases, without an exception, looked like they were manufactured by the same company, they were hard-cover, ribbed on both sides and had four small wheels. Like the ones in the picture above.
Before we left the airport, we needed to find the Korean Airlines desk and try to have reissued the hardcopy ticket we lost in Istanbul. Of course, they couldn’t find the ticket in their system, so we ended up buying a new one. So glad it was only an infant fare…
Next on our list is transferring to our hotel in Shinjuku. Normally we would have relied on taxis, but Narita Airport is 60km away from Tokyo and the trip would have resulted in an exorbitant fare, probably around 200USD or more. I had researched a list of possible transfer options, but the quickest and least stressful way seemed to be the ‘Friendly Airport Limousine’ bus (schedule here) at 3,000Y a pop. There were alternative means of getting to Tokyo, but I’d discuss these in a separate post about the city’s public transportation options, fares and schedules.
The bus stopped curbside, just outside the arrivals hall; our luggage was tagged as if we were checking it in for a flight and loaded in the baggage compartment without us moving a finger! The entire trip with the bus took about one and a half hours, mostly driving on highways, as well as a little bit of city traffic towards the end. At first, the scenery on both sides of the highway was green grass with houses sprinkled here and there. Then the industrial look gradually took over; we saw more and more railroad tracks, trains and stations, along with large warehouse buildings and office towers. Once we were near the outskirts of inner Tokyo, we started seeing some residential buildings, probably not among Tokyo’s premium real estate options as they were looking kind of run down. I couldn’t help but compare everything I was seeing to New York and the drive between Manhattan and JF Kennedy airport. It was not truly the same, but it gave me a similar vibe.
The whole ride took 1-1.5hrs, I expected that we would hit traffic in the overpopulated city that Tokyo is, but we didn’t even have any notable slow-downs. Perhaps because it was a Saturday.