Layover in Tokyo

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Layover in Tokyo

Post  Admin on Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:36 pm

Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT, ICAO: RJAA) is an international airport located in Narita, Chiba, Japan, in the eastern portion of the Greater Tokyo Area.

Narita handles the majority of international passenger traffic to and from Japan, and is also a major connecting point for air traffic between Asia and the Americas. It is the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan, busiest air freight hub in Japan, and third-busiest air freight hub in the world. It serves as the main international hub of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, and as an Asian regional hub for Northwest Airlines and United Airlines. Under Japanese law, it is classified as a first class airport.

The airport was known as New Tokyo International Airport until 2004. While Tokyo is the source of much of Narita Airport's traffic, the airport is located far from central Tokyo (1 hour by the fastest train) and in a different prefecture. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), located in Tokyo proper, is the busiest airport in Japan and the fourth-busiest in the world, even though it handles very little international traffic.
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Narita Night Life

Post  Admin on Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:24 am

Narita Night Life

"On our layovers we normally go to the Flyers Lounge which is on the right hand side of the High Street before you get to the noodle bar and it is upstairs. There is a kids amusement arcade underneath it and to the left of the stairs.

"We go there as there is always a happy hour between 6 and 7pm. You don't have to be airline crew to drink there. We then normally go for something to eat and it is either the "Western Beggar" which is down the first side street on the left or we walk further down and go to the new curry house which is just before the fork in the road going to the temple. (it is also on the right hand side)

"Sometimes we go to the "Red Lion or Lion Bar" which is on the left hand side of the High Street just before the first bend and opposite the mini stop shop. They do a great Teriyaki Chicken and fries in there and it is run by the Mayor of Narita's wife.

"After this we usually go to the singing bar which is past the station (the one next to the Colorado cafe). You walk up from the station turn left in the opposite direction of the temple and it is on your left immediately before a hotel whose name I can't recall. You'll know it's the singing bar as the stairs are really steep and you have to defy gravity walking up them. God only knows how we get down them again as we are usually much the worse for wear at this stage. have you ever drunk "Lemon High's" when in Narita? If not I

"At 11pm, the guy that owns the famous "Truck" runs a karaoke bus down to the truck and it picks up opposite Macdonald's in front of the cigarette cabin. We stay there till either 1am or 3 am when the same Guy runs us all back to our respective Hotel's that are within the local area. It's great and it always guarantees him business.

"That takes care of the night life however...if we are feeling flush we go to the Chrysanthemum Restaurant and then end up back at the crew room in the hotel. Our hotel is mainly air crew and has a lot of things geared up around us all as we arrive en masse at all times of the day and night. There is a free courtesy bus in and out of town twice an hour and also to the airport."

From a Virgin Atlantic Flight Attendant

And, here's a report from John Whitely:

I recently spend a couple of days in Narita courtesy of Virgin Atlantic, the suggestions from the Virgin Flight Attendant on your page were very useful. A brief synopsis follows...

Arriving at Narita airport at 9.00am from London , my first plan was to check into a hotel, sleep for a couple of hours and then hit the town. The Virgin crew recommended the Hotel Narita Tokyu, the place they stay in, and told me I could probably get a reduced rate. Being a typical Brit, I expected all the locals to speak English. How wrong I was. Trying to tell a taxi driver to take me to a hotel whos name I wasn't quite sure of was a challenge. After a 2000 YEN ride, I arrived at the Tokyu where they do speak good english.

I don't actually work for an airline, but tried convincing the receptionist that I did, to get a reduced rate. After a pleasant barter, and a promise that next time I visited Narita I would bring my Crew ID card (must get one!), they agreed to a rate of 6380 YEN per night room only. The room was OK (not that I could complain!) but the bathroom was quite a shock. The whole room was actually moulded together, bath and all, from what looked like one piece of plastic. Apologees for the graphic detail, but I was amazed at the array of buttons next to the toilet. When you sit down it starts making a 'watery' noise. Press the button marked 3>- for a surprise. Moving on... My 2 hour rest finished at 7pm when I realised I had just spent half of my time in Japan asleep - bugger!

The Tokyu run courtesy buses to town and to the airport (if I had know I could have saved myself a taxi driver sign language course and 2000 YEN the night before.) They operate once or twice an hour (they will give you a timetable when you check in). I took the bus in to Narita town (only a couple of miles) where it drops you off at one of the two railway stations - the place looked just like any town around the world. To get to any lively area, you need to walk up the steps, through the station and out the other side. It then changes into an array of narrow streets crammed with restaurants and bars.

To get to the Flyers Bar, turn right out of the station, past McDonalds, over the crossroads and keep going for about 500 yards. It is on the right hand side and has a white tiled floor outside. Don't expect too much - it's tiny, the floor is covered in nut shells, but the guy who runs the place (apologees but I forgot his name) was really friendly, spoke good English, and can arrange to export a nearly new Japanese car for you if that's your thing! Sapporo beer was between 400-550 YEN depending on the happy hour status. Being the Flyers bar, expect to see crew, crew and more crew. From there we went to the place Richard Branson has a stake in. It's called Bharge Inn and is a little further down the road on the same side. A pretty decent pub with food and dancing. I'm told it was supposed to be called the Virgin, but Japanese can't pronounce their V's. Not too sure if that's accurate. Can't remember too much more of it, beer was flowing.

The minibus for The Truck was due to leave from the Bharge Inn at 11.30pm, but we had to go find the driver who was still necking beer in the pub! I was too wasted by that time to notice. The Truck was 'interesting'. It isn't actually a truck anymore, more like a portacabin where you just sing, chat, flirt and get drunk. Whenever I've been to a karaoke bar, the DJ introduces you by your name and what you're singing. Here they just play song after song (apparently requested), and either the person closest to the mikes, or the person who's had most to drink gets up and sings (that should read 'sings?'). Can't remember too much more of that night, but from a guys perspective there were some gorgeous, 'talented' crew members out for a good laugh!!! Minibuses (again free) for the main hotels leave the Truck at 1.30am and 3.00am. I didn't miss one so can't tell you what happens if you do.

Next morning - major headache. Decided to try and shop, so got bus back into town. Could not really find anything I wanted to buy. A few souvenierish type shops, a couple of large department stores but that was about it. Either I didn't look hard enough or Narita is no shopping MECCA.

The only other place I can remember visiting was 'The Cage' - another singing bar. Turn left from the station (opposite direction to McDonalds) and it's about 100 yards down on the left. Other comments about the steepness of the steps were not exaggerated! If you are looking for a less hectic karaoke bar with a much bigger songlist than the Truck - this is the place for you. Be prepared to be accosted by a waitress (nice looking though) as soon as you walk in, as they insist you buy at least one drink. (Hey, it's a karaoke bar, why wouldn't you?) Just when I though I'd seen enough singing, The Truck minibus picked me up from outside The Cage to prove yet again that I'm a trustee of modern chemistry.

A long way to go for 2 nights, but a good laugh!
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24 Layover in Tokyo

Post  Admin on Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:28 am

The crowds, the neon lights, the startling fashions, the crowds, the lustrous skyscrapers, the cutting-edge electronics … the crowds. For many western travelers, Tokyo is an overwhelming city. The sheer density of it all—a quarter of the population of Japan, a whopping 12 million people living in just 1288 square miles—is at once exhilarating and totally exhausting. With a city this complex, it’s well nigh impossible to get a grasp on its inner workings, its personality, in a mere 24-hours. But with the following itinerary you may get a glimpse of why so many people are proud to call it home, and why legions of visitors get hooked on Tokyo each year.

5:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.: If you’re like most Western travelers, you’ll probably be wide awake at 5 a.m., reeling from jetlag so extreme it’s like a kung fu kick to the senses. So get up early and make your way to the Tsukiji Market, the biggest wholesale fish market in Japan, and one of the largest in the world. You’re not here to buy--though if you’re in the market for a 200-pound tuna, there’s no better place anywhere—but to stand and gawk at the ferocious whir of activity as would-be buyers prod and sniff, motor-mouthed auctioneers work the crowd and men yielding giant knives dice fish at lightning speed. Be sure to bring your camera and wear waterproof shoes.

8 a.m. - 9 a.m.: After the excitement of the market, you’ll need some sustenance, so head up, way up, to the Top of the Tower, the 40-story high restaurant at the New Otani Hotel. Breakfast here is the most awe-inspiring meal of the day as you graze a 50-item buffet (of Western and Asian dishes) while staring down on the Tokyo skyline.

9:30 a.m. - noon: Make your way to the Tokyo National Museum housing the world’s greatest collection of Japanese art, nearly 100,000 pieces in all. If you’ve been disappointed not to see kimonos on the streets of Tokyo, you’ll get your fill of exquisite ones here, along with Samurai armor, woodblock prints, traditional screens, ceramics and much more. Those with limited time should confine themselves to the Honkan (main building) where the most ancient and impressive pieces of the collection are displayed.

ALTERNATIVE MORNING ACTIVITY
Sure they play baseball in Japan, but the real national pastime is shopping. So do as the locals do, and spend your morning flitting from shop to shop, staring down Miss Kitty trinkets and the latest naughty schoolgirl fashions. Some of the best areas for store hopping are boutique-laden Ginza for the latest fashions and Akihabara for electronics. A shopping highlight: arrive at the department store of your choice just as it opens for the day (usually at 10 a.m.) and get “bowed” into the store by employees who flank the entryway, crisply bobbing up and down to personally greet each early shopper.

Noon-2 p.m.: Join the city’s legions of office workers for a noodle slurping lunch. Namiki Yabusoba in the Asakusa neighborhood is legendary for its firm-to-the-teeth soba noodles and savory broths. Established in 1913, it’s a classic Tokyo experience.

2 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.: Take a leisurely stroll to the Sensoji Temple. Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist deity of compassion, the temple was founded in 628 when, legend has it, two brothers caught a sacred statue of the goddess while fishing. The tiny golden statue is housed within the temple and not viewable by the public, but hundred still visit each day to ask favors of the Goddess. After bathing in the sacred smoke of temple alters, repair to one of Tokyo’s bathhouses for an actual soak and test your mettle by dipping yourself into water the temperature of lava (well, almost). There are 1,145 sentos (public baths) across Tokyo to choose from. You’ll know them by their tall chimneys and shoe lockers just inside the door. Red and pink curtains mark the areas for women, blue curtains are for men.

AFTERNOON ALTERNATIVE
Grab a picnic lunch and hop a train to the peaceful seaside resort of Kamakura, about 45 minutes from central Tokyo. The seat of the Shogunate from 1190 through 1330 AD, it’s the yin to Tokyo’s ever-so-modern yang, a veritable Brigadoon with old wooden homes instead of glass and steel and 35 ancient Buddhist Temples. You’ve come here to pay your respects to the Great Buddha, who earns that title for his height and girth (a towering 37 feet high, weighing 93 tons) and for his staying power—cast in 1292, he survived the tidal wave that swept away the wooden temple that once surrounded him, and the elements ever since. Be sure also to drop by the nearby Hase Kannon Temple which has become a memorial place for babies who have been miscarried, stillborn or aborted. As you climb the steps you’ll come upon 50,000 small statues of the Jizo, the guardian diety of children; most of them wear baby clothes, and are surrounded by small stuffed animals and toys—an eerie sight. Free, English language tours of all the sights of Kamakura are offered on a daily basis.

5 p.m. - 9 p.m.: Buy a ticket for a performance at Kabuzika, Tokyo’s most highly-regarded Kabuki theater company. If you don’t have the time for the entire four-hour show, it’s perfectly acceptable to stay for just one act (you’ll pay less for your ticket that way). But you may find yourself sitting through the entire show; the colorful costumes, dramatic plot-lines, and reaction of the audience—who yell out to the players, cheer wildly and laugh raucously—make attending a kabuki performance a real hoot.

9 p.m. - 11 p.m. (or later): An unforgettable meal awaits you at Takamura, one of the finest kaiseki restaurants in the world. Kaiseki is Japan’s haute cuisine, a parade of tiny, intricately prepared dishes (sometimes up to 20) that change from season to season, and come plated on an exquisite piece of flatware. At Takamura the formality of the meal is enhanced by the setting: you’ll sit in one of 8 tatami rooms, (some include sunken areas for those who need to stretch their legs), in a 60-year-old house, overlooking the most serene of gardens.

11 p.m.: If you’re still standing head to Gas Panic, one of the Roppongi districts hottest dance clubs. Friendly to gaijin (foreigners) it jams in so many dancers on a nightly basis that many end up strutting their stuff atop the narrow bar. The only rule here? The management posts signs saying that you must have a drink in your hand at all times. Other than that, anything goes.

Tsukiji Market: 5-2-1 Tsujuki in Cho-Ku; free admission, 5 a.m. - 11 a.m. daily (closed some Wednesdays)

New Otani Hotel: 4-1 Kioi-Cho, Chiyodu Ku; 81-3-3265-1111; www.newotani.co.jp/tokyo

Tokyo National Museum: Ueno Park, Taito-ku; 03/3822-1111; http://www.tnm.jp/; admission ¥420, open Tues-Sun 9:30-5 p.m., up until 8 p.m. on Fridays, Apr-Sept

Namika Yabuso: 2-11-9 Kaminarimon, Asakusa; 03/3841-1380

Sensoji Temple: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku; 03/3842-0181; daily 6 a.m. - 5 p.m., free admission

Kamakura: Take the JR Yokosuka Line to Kamakura Station, cost ¥890; there’s a tourist information window at the station (call 0467/22-3350), open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Great Buddha: Located at Kotokuin Temple; open daily 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., admission ¥200

Hase Kannon Temple: Located on a hillside (ask for directions); open daily 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., admission ¥300

Go to kamakuraguide@hotmail.com to set up a tour of Kamakura

Kabuzika: 4-12-15 Ginza; tel. 03/5565-6000 for advance reservations; tickets from ¥2,500 (extra for English language head sets and program); www.shochiku.co.jp/play/kabukiza/theater/index.html

Takamura: Located at Roppongi and Nishi Azabu; call 03/3585-6600 for reservations.

Gas Panic: 3-15-24 Roppongi Minato-ku; www.gaspanic.co.jp
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