AbD Japan April 2019 Inaugural Trip

Mathmagicland

Disneyland - the original since 1955
Joined
Jul 26, 2014
Hi all, or should I say Konnichiwa, and welcome along to my trip report for the Inaugural AbD adventure to Japan! Traveling with me on this Adventure is my adult-age DS.

I am going to try to post daily as we go, a la @calypso726, while things are fresh and to help ensure I get this finished before the May departure group leaves. Thus I may not be able to promptly respond to all questions or comments but will do my best.

This post is to get the report started before I leave for the airport & also include some of the planning tips that were helpful to me as a first time visitor to Japan, from the extended threads several of us have been in since the Japan adventures were first announced and booked last year.

If you are interested in how to get and use miles for flights, please see the “I Love Credit Cards So Much” thread that @calypso726 mentioned. There is a lot of good info and great resources on that board. It is a long thread - Calypso726 said to ask your questions there & someone will respond with current info rather than reading the entire thread.

Speaking of airfares, one thing to keep in mind is to research several cities and airports, not just the one closest to you. Consider a repositioning flight to another city, or driving to a farther away airport. We are both in California, DS is in San Francisco and I am in the Los Angeles area. I was going to fly up to SF to meet him there, but we found that flights are almost twice as expensive to fly out of SFO compared to LAX. So, he is driving down to LA and we are flying from LA to Japan.

Also research options for both Narita and Haneda airports in Tokyo. Narita has some flight restrictions as it does not allow operations overnight, between approximately 11pm to 5am, thus we had fewer flight time options. Haneda does not have any such restrictions and is open 24x7. Flying direct to Osaka, our arrival options put us on the ground in Osaka around 3-4pm. Narita flights & transfer to Osaka still put us on the ground in Osaka in the afternoon or evening & we still have travel time to the hotel. By going thru Tokyo Haneda we are flying late overnight and with transfers are arriving in Osaka Kansai around 8:30 a.m. thus having more time in Kyoto on our arrival day. This option was important to us as we were somewhat restricted in our arrival day due to DS work schedule.

If you do plan to connect thru Tokyo to Osaka, @sayhello notes to be sure your connecting flight departs from the same airport as your first arrival. Some flight options will come up arriving at Narita and the next one departing Haneda, and that would be quite a trek across the city to switch airports.

Departures out of Narita for the flights home were mostly in the 6:30pm-7:30pm range for us, allowing basically half a day in Tokyo Disney resort (TDR) on our last day before transfers to the airport. By leaving out of Haneda, we have a midnight departure so can have a full day in TDR on our last day, getting the most of our add-on package without the need to book another night of hotel stay. (We were not disappointed at all when our airline pushed our return flight time out by 90 minutes as it meant more time in TDR!).

As this is my first trip to Japan, I am not the resource on TDR and whether to book the AbD post trip extension vs booking a TDR package on your own either before or after the AbD Adventure. We booked the AbD TDR extension for the convenience. Others are booking separate TDR packages on their own, which seems to be an adventure in itself - smile - from what I’ve read about how to book the Disney hotels there. Booking yourself can be a cheaper option or allow for a longer stay if time permits, as well as hitting TDR before rather than after. There are other threads and resources on that process.

@RSM mentioned something about caution & awareness regarding medications including over the counter stuff as Japan has stricter rules than the US and some things cannot be brought in or need a form and documentation to bring in. Here is a link to information from the US state department and the US embassy in Japan regarding Japan immigration and medications with additional information and Japan resources. https://jp.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/doctors/importing-medication/ This was not something we had even considered so is good to know if needed.

And away we go - next posts will be our travel and arrival experience as well as our first afternoon in Kyoto. Japan, here we come!
 

distravel

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 29, 2013
Thanks so much for doing a trip report. My husband and I are going on the September ABD to Japan. So happy I read your post . My husband is diabetic and has a CPAP. We've never had a problem traveling with his machine or meds before so it never occurred to me that special forms would be needed for Japan. You saved us from having a huge problem on arrival. :thanks:
 
  • calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    Following along! I am so excited you are posting a day by day. YAY!!!! :banana: I know it isn't easy but do know all of us back home appreciate it and will be looking forward to your posts. Great intro post! Safe travels, have fun and looking forward to the updates.
     
  • sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    Following along! :) So glad there's enough time between the departures for me to learn from your sage advice before I go! I really have to find out what to do about the Sudafed. It's the only thing that works on my sinuses, and the chance of me *not* getting a sinus headache on vacation are pretty small! I may call the consulate & just read off a list of all my meds, and see what they say!

    Sayhello
     

    Mathmagicland

    Disneyland - the original since 1955
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2014
    Thanks so much for doing a trip report. My husband and I are going on the September ABD to Japan. So happy I read your post . My husband is diabetic and has a CPAP. We've never had a problem traveling with his machine or meds before so it never occurred to me that special forms would be needed for Japan. You saved us from having a huge problem on arrival. :thanks:
    I’m happy the info is helpful for you. Here is a link from the US Embassy in Japan, a page on bringing medications into Japan with links to the forms to use to request approvals. Good luck, I hope it works out OK.

    https://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/medication-info-japan.html
     
  • PrincessDisneyFan

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2014
    Wow I can't believe the first ever Japan ABD is already starting. Seems like just yesterday we were all preparing to call-in and make that oh so painful deposit (lol). And I'm on one of the last trips this year. So I now I get to live vicariously through a whole Japan Season 5 Months! I hope you have the most amazing trip ever! We can share Japan stories on the Member Cruise 2020 (wink)
     

    CaliKris

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 24, 2015
    When I went to Japan, no one checked any of my medications (some of which were not labeled) and I had no idea there were medicines that needed approval. I guess ignorance was bliss.

    @sayhello Have you tried Mucinex? Not sure if that is on the list as well but it is the only thing that helps my sinuses. That and FLonase nasal spray.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    When I went to Japan, no one checked any of my medications (some of which were not labeled) and I had no idea there were medicines that needed approval. I guess ignorance was bliss.

    @sayhello Have you tried Mucinex? Not sure if that is on the list as well but it is the only thing that helps my sinuses. That and FLonase nasal spray.
    Thanks! 'll check out Mucinex. Do they have just a Sinus version? I think the Cold & Cough one would be overkill. But I guess if necessary... I already use Flonase daily (but mostly for eustation tube issues). The Sudafed is for the occassional overwhelm.

    Sayhello
     

    Calfan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 2009
    Following in the hopes of picking up helpful tips for our 2020 Japan trip with Thomson Family Adventures. The medication restrictions were news to me, so I'm off to check those out. Have an amazing time!!
     

    Mathmagicland

    Disneyland - the original since 1955
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2014
    Friday April 12/Saturday April 13 -

    What’s the new definition of “eternity”? Being all packed and ready to go 5 hours ahead of our airport pickup!! That is because of our late evening departure.

    We are flying All Nippon Airways (ANA) Business class, LA to Tokyo and then Tokyo to Osaka Kansai via Tokyo Haneda airport. This is our first trip to Japan and we’ve heard lots of good things about ANA so are excited to be flying with them!

    ANA has been fabulous pre-flight. They were quick to respond to emails regarding our Tokyo connection time before we booked. Our return flight was changed to 90 minutes later than originally scheduled. ANA sent emails when the flight was changed, approx 2 months prior. They called each of us approx 2 weeks prior and then followed that up with another email, all to be sure we were aware of the change. And, since we entered our passport info into the reservation ahead of time, they also checked us in and emailed our boarding passes 24 hours ahead of departure. What great customer service! A bonus - ANA participates in TSA pre-check in US airports, so we still got the fastpass thru airport security here in LA.

    Inflight experience with ANA - I am now spoiled, the flight to Tokyo was wonderful, very comfy seats and attentive service. We were both able to sleep a bit, over half the 11-hour flight. We had a bit of a tailwind for the first half of our flight and arrived approx 30 min early which was nice as it gave us a bit more time for the connection. However we did not need that extra time. We are finally in Japan!!

    Customs and immigration process in Tokyo was very efficient - not a lot of visitors on our flight and we did not have to wait at all. The luggage arrived so quickly. Haneda Airport terminal transfer process from international to domestic was super efficient - the time lapsed from getting our luggage to customs, domestic luggage drop off, domestic security screening, and the transfer bus to waiting in the domestic terminal was no more than 30 minutes! We arrived with plenty of time for our flight to Kansai. One note re the domestic security transfer process - we were able to keep our bottled water with us, which was appreciated. Also, Haneda Airport website has some helpful videos on the international to domestic transfer process.

    We have a little more than a couple of hours in Tokyo between flights. With the transfer in Tokyo, that is where we went through immigration and customs, so our flight to Osaka is Domestic & no immigration in Osaka. While the AbD tour info book arrival info presumes a direct international flight to Osaka with going thru customs and immigration there, I confirmed they will be meeting us at Domestic baggage claim.

    I must say, the two flights with transfers in Tokyo to Osaka/Kansai was totally worth it...because we were rewarded with absolutely stunning views of Mt Fuji out our window as we left Tokyo. The skies were so clear, we could almost see forever and we were so close to Mt Fuji. We could see it for the first 15 min of our flight.


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    Osaka Kansai arrival - very efficient again, and again our luggage arrived quickly. One note re this flight, at the gate we learned that our international carry on luggage was too big and would need to be checked, because the plane has smaller overhead bins. No worries, but something to be aware of.

    Transfer to hotel was smooth. We were met at Kansai by a gentleman with an AbD sign after we picked up our luggage, who walked us out to a waiting van which took us to the hotel. The ride was approx 75-80 minutes and there was no traffic until we exited the freeway in Kyoto for the surface streets. One thing that was a pleasant surprise was the number of blooming cherry trees we saw on the drive to the hotel. We did not realize that there might be so many of them outside of the groves that always make the news & travel blogs.

    Hotel check-in went very smoothly. All of the staff is very friendly and helpful. As we arrived at the hotel approx 10:10 a.m., our room was not yet ready. They stored our bags & we could come back any time after 2:00 PM to get the keys and our luggage. When we came back, we received the Welcome letter from AbD with info about Sunday (meeting the guides and getting our voucher for Sunday dinner at the hotel) and Monday’s group breakfast for our first day of touring.

    Now, let’s get out and start exploring Kyoto!
     

    Cousin Orville

    Inventor of Air Cooling
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2000
    Nice to hear the flight went well. We have a similar path through Narita and then Narita to Osaka ITM. Looking forward to hearing about your first day in Kyoto!
     

    Mathmagicland

    Disneyland - the original since 1955
    Joined
    Jul 26, 2014
    Saturday April 13 -

    We have checked in, stored our luggage, and are off to explore Kyoto a bit - out the door approx 10:45 a.m, so we have a lot of time left in our day.

    I mentioned seeing cherry trees in bloom on our drive in from the airport. We got so excited to see our first trees, but by the time we got to the hotel they had become a somewhat common sighting. One thing I was not expecting was to see so many of them, both along the way and throughout the city, scattered here and there. I decided quickly my wish list was too short - Mt Fuji, check; cherry blossoms, check. So I added cherry blossoms of every color, and was able to mark that off as well. Most of the trees here are past prime viewing, but still some flowers and with rain expected for Sunday I’m happy we got to see them today. The rains are likely to wash away most of the rest of the blossoms. I am trying to imagine how beautiful the trees would be at full bloom....we are hopeful for more at Takayama which has not yet started blooming.

    6E34AD36-38CE-460A-BFBD-42B9BD2CE80E.jpeg

    Since we are off to Himeji Castle tomorrow, our first priority is to find Kyoto Central Station to get our train tickets to Himeji. It is approx 15-20 min walk to the station, which is very large and busy. Along the way, we seemed to see either a Family Mart, 7-11, or Lawson’s about every 50 feet - all convenience stored with ATMs to get Japanese currency. We each tried one out in a Family Mart by the station ( some of them are open 24 hours), and used the “get partial change” option to get some smaller bills rather than only large bills. We also found that the hotel can make change with smaller bills and coins for the larger value bills, which was helpful.

    After a not to long wait, we have our tickets to Himeji. Next stop will be Nishiki Market. Here is a link https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3931.html. It is a long narrow indoors shopping area, used by locals and tourists. It has everything from cheaper souvenirs to antique art prints, knives, and silk fans, and lots of food stalls with things like fish, fruits, baked goods. Other booths are for local fisherman as it is nothing more than a few ice chests with lots of different types of fish. One thing we saw a lot of was what I will call “octopus lollipops” - baby octopus on a skewer, with a quail egg in the head. They were about the size of a tootsie-Pop, dark res in color, with curled up tentacles. Sorry I did not get a picture.

    The market was quite fascinating to walk through - very busy, interesting things and a great place to people watch. There are also a couple of anime shops that my DS wanted to check out. We’d wanted to see a bit of local Kyoto life that was not a temple or shrine, and this seemed to fit the bill.

    On our walk up to the riverbank, we saw the Kyoto Disney store, so of course we had to make a stop. It had a different selection of merchandise than we see in the US stored and lots of Pooh themed items, and not much Marvel or Star Wars. Nothing was branded Disney Store Kyoto, and we didn’t buy anything.

    We then walked back to the hotel along the river as there were several cherry trees along the way. Along our walk both at the market and back to the hotel, we saw several ladies, and a few guys, in kimonos. It added to the local Japanese feel for Kyoto.


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    We also stopped at a couple of temples that are not on our tour. One is Higashi Honganji, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.


    86D29E6D-076B-4D30-AE0C-35FD85891ED3.jpeg

    The other was Sanjusangendo, which is just a block from the hotel and has 1000 Buddha statues. This one is mentioned in the AbD materials. No photos are allowed inside either one. And, we had to take our shoes off- the first place had plastic bags so we could carry our shoes with us; the second had racks to place your shoes before

    We had the Kyoto craft museum on our list but did not make it up there as we wanted to get back to the hotel to drop our backpacks, and get our keys and luggage. The AbD letter also mentions the Kyoto National Museum which is right across the street from the hotel.

    The travel, jet lag, and time change were starting to catch up to us, and we are dragging. So, after dinner we were in the room by 7:00 PM and in bed by 8:00. We want to be rested for our day in Himeji and will have an early start.
     


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