There were definitely a few times at the end of our stay in Uganda where we were thinking: "We’re going to Japan, next?" Indeed.
We had a nice and relatively short layover at Heathrow this time (3 hours). By the time we did the T5 to T3 hokey pokey this was down to 2 hours. We passed the rest of the time in the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge—not that great of a lounge, but it was good to start consuming some Japanese beer and snacks.
This London to Tokyo flight was our longest of the trip thus far at about 11 hours flying time. Sadly, their Shell Flat Seat was probably the weakest seat we’ve encountered (relatively speaking!). Yeah, it’s flat…but at a wicked angle. Many hours of sleep were still achieved, though.
For the meal service, I went Japanese and Lillie was soft and went Western. First the Western meal. The starters (picture on the left) were: chicken liver and wild mushroom pate, prawn & gravlax, and a fresh salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing. And the main dish is a fillet of beef with red wine and herb sauce.
The Japanese meal was the most elaborate airplane meal I’ve ever had.
Left to right in the izakaya style starters (picture on the left): tofu custard with crabmeat; fillet of sea-bass sashimi style; tuna sashimi with yam sauce; fired marinated small fish; Japanese noodle somen; grilled chicken Japanese style; deep-simmered vegetable; and sake-steamed whelk.
And the main course is braised Iberico pork with tofu custard; steamed Koshihikari rice; Japanese pickles; and miso soup.
Before landing, we got our snacks on. On the left is my Chinese ramen noodles in soy sauce flavor soup with Kagoshima pork fillet. Lillie’s tray on the right has Japanese udon noodles in soup with fried bean curd.
One of the main reasons we were going to Japan at the end of the trip was for the food, so this was all a nice way to kick things off. Upon landing at Tokyo-Narita, we got our first glimpse of the surgical mask craze in Japan as we went through a health screening to ease concerns we had swine flu. It was just a few yes/no questions, so no big deal and we had our free visas soon enough.
We had a short hour and a half layover here before our connection to Osaka-Itami that we spent at another JAL Sakura Lounge. All sorts of awkwardness here as I was trying to make some green tea for myself. Only to have an old Japanese women push me to the side and take over. Watching her it was very clear that I was doing many things wrong and I was thankful for her intervention.
After a completely uneventful domestic flight to ITM, we landed at 6pm. The next step was to hop onto the Airport Limo bus to Kyoto. Within seconds of stepping up the automated ticket kiosks, we had tickets in our hands, and marveled at how easy it was. Our fingers were crossed that everything would be this easy in Japan…
It’s a 50-minute ride on the bus to Kyoto Station and it’s very nice. You’d almost think you’re riding some light rail it’s so quiet and smooth.
Once at Kyoto Station, our final destination was the Westin Miyako. Only two subway trains to go to get there! Like our previous bus tickets, this subway ticket machine was an equally pleasurable experience. Very quickly we had two tickets to take us to the Keage station right next to the Westin. We high fived as we walked into the hotel less than 90-minutes after landing at ITM.
We set out by foot randomly looking for food and fast realized there isn’t a whole lot in the immediate area. Then we stumbled on a 7-11 and grabbed some (what turned out to be delicious) little packaged dinners. I also picked up a little guy of Haagen Dazs green tea ice cream to wash it down.
Then back at the Westin late at night we started fighting jet lag for the first time on the trip…