HND: Hello Haneda!

Seating Area at the Sakura Business Class LoungeSakura Lounge EntranceFirst Class LoungeBusiness Class Desk by the WindowBusiness Class Lounge

HND: JAL Sakura Lounge, a set on Flickr.

During the six years that I lived in Tokyo, I have gone through the Haneda Airport only three times, on regional flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong. The experiences then were mostly positive, with the exception of boarding and disembarkation not through jetways but by bus; although two of those flights were with Japan Airlines. (I would understand a foreign airline like Cathay Pacific not getting a preferential treatment; but this was JAL, one of the nation’s main two airlines.)

The rest of my trips originated and ended at Narita. You can blindfold me, and I can still find my way to and from and around the airport: Any trips from home to the Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Tokyo stations, and then with the N’ex (Narita Express) to T1 or T2; Continue reading

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HND: Dreamliner at Haneda

Soon enough Bloompy will try the New York-Haneda (JFK-HND) route, a roundabout way for someone who resides in California; but after years of landing at Narita (NRT), it will be great to land inside the city of Tokyo.

Below is a recent late-night testing of Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Haneda: Between 23:00 – 04:00 when the airport is not open commercially, Boeing and Haneda conduct a “dress rehearsal” for the eventual landing, taxiing, and parking of Dreamliners in the near future. This one belongs to All Nippon Airways (ANA).

And below is ANA’s Dreamliner Interior Shot. Minute 01:50 is what matters to Bloompy: Washlet (Smart Toilet: Bidet function built into the commode)! How I wish all airlines in the world would install this. (There is no audio for this video; don’t adjust your volume.)

NRT: Narita Express vs. Airport Limousine

You’ve made it through the long dash to the immigration, and then through the long queue there; customs are behind you, and now you are at the Narita Arrival Hall, and given the options of how to reach the city. There are actually at least 5 ways of which I can think: Private limousine or taxi; pick-up by a friend or company car; take the slow train; take the fast train; or take the airport-city bus.

I have experienced three of these methods, but one of them, the taxi ride, can cost upward Continue reading

NRT: JAL’s Sakura First Class Lounge

There are two sections of the Sakura Lounge at the Main Terminal 2 of Narita International Airport (there is an additional Sakura Lounge at the Satellite Terminal): The First Class and the Business Class lounges. At the main entrance, guests either make a left turn to head for the FC section or a right turn for the BC section.

Immediately behind the check-in counter at the First Class lounge, one could find another counter, this one for Spa treatment. Each guest is allowed a 15-minute massage, courtesy of JAL: Full body massage, Head massage, or Foot massage (reflexology). But really, a 15- Continue reading

Bloompy Grieves with Japan

The Blogs of Bloompy was born on April 20, 2004 in Tokyo, Japan. Until 2008, it chronicled observations on life and experiences in that amazing metropolis and unforgettable country. It is therefore with much sadness that I witnessed, from afar, the unfolding tragedy in the forms of Earthquake and Tsunami that had recently befell on the Land of the Cherry Blossoms. I believe that the resilience and the determination of the Japanese people will rebuild those shattered lives.

Bloompy grieves with Japan and the Japanese People.

Bridges, Creeks, and Maple Trees

Ukai Toriyama by bloompy
Ukai Toriyama, a photo by bloompy on Flickr.

If I ever imagine a Japanese Eden it would be in the form of Ukai-Toriyama in Takao-san (Mt. Takao), a sprawling compound of lush greens and Japanese Maple trees, divided by creeks, united by bridges, and dotted with a multitude of pavilions, none of which has the same architectural design.

When my friend asked me out to eat lunch here -a mountainous area 50 minutes away from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station by an express train- I had no earthly idea that I would end up in such heavenly a place. From Shinjuku-eki, we took the Keio train to Takaosanguchi. A complimentary bus from the Ukai Toriyama company picked us up and delivered us to the Continue reading

From Here to Eternity . . .

Kokuritsu-Kyōgijō StationIt may not look like it, but this Oedo-subway-line escalator at the Kokuritsu-kyogijo (by Sendagaya JR Train Station) seems to be one of the longest escalators I have ever seen in Japan, in the U.S., or in Europe. When you hop in it and stay put, it takes quite a while to reach the top (or the bottom). I actually started reading Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” at the bottom and finished it three steps before reaching the top. And I read that twice.

Currently Tokyo is building its 13th line, somewhere down beneath the Meiji-dori (Meiji street), one of the busiest streets in the city. While that is not yet near completion, Oedo line will for the time being carry the title of “the last” subway to be built in Tokyo.

Oedo line, the 12th subway line, was inaugurated on 12/12/12 (December 12 on the Japanese year 12 [the Japanese year starts on the beginning of the reign of a new Continue reading

The Shinjuku-2-chome Festival

The Shinjuku-2-chome Festival by bloompy
The Shinjuku-2-chome Festival, a photo by bloompy on Flickr.

Gay Pride Parade began in Tokyo a few years back, but about three years ago it stopped. I could only speculate why, as I have yet to find out the real reasons. Be that as it may, 2005 saw the rebirth of the Pride with a Lesbian & Gay Parade on Saturday (August 13) starting from and ending at the Yoyogi Park (which I unfortunately missed because of a food allergic reaction) and a festival today at the Shinjuku-2-chome, home to the local LGBT Tokyoites.

The Parade went through the Shibuya district, then turning onto Meiji-dori, heading toward Harajuku (via the Omotesando-dori) and back to the Yoyogi Park. I overheard people Continue reading