Okinawa #4

When Okinawa became Japanese in full again, in 1974, it was the economic boom, airlines were growing fast, so as mentioned in a previous post, ANA and JAL picked up great locations and built up hotels on the island, launching the boom of domestic tourism to the islands.

I stayed at the ANA InterContinental on Manza Beach, wonderful location, 31 ha of activities, gardens, swimming pools, a private beach, boats, sailing, it is a unique resort.

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ANA – great airline

In Japan, as many other things, airlines work differently from the rest of the world, LCC have not invaded the market just yet simply because ANA and JAL dominate the market.

In the past, they even agreed on sharing some airports, for example Yonago is ANA airport while Tottori is JAL airport only. At the beginning of the air travel, these airlines spotted nice locations in every destination and build their own hotels to accomodate the travellers at their destination. Hence, in Japan, you find still a lot of ANA hotels and Nikko, JAL Hotels. along the years, they have sold some of them but the domination remains. they also sell packages, have brochures etc. with the economic downturn, JAL suffered and went into administration for the last 10 years, however, they went out of danger this 2017 and started to expand again opening new routes etc.

Now LCC start expanding from Korea, Thailand etc. but ANA has also it own airline, you can now fly Peach or Vanilla when you are in Japan

Both airline, despite of their domination, still maintain a very good level of service and I typically fly ANA and love it.

Flying domestic is easy, you turn up at Haneda, 30mn before your flight and you are good, I never do this as I still have the European stress on long queues, strikes, etc but here, all is organised and smooth and flights are always on time (unless typhoon, snowstorm, real reasons…)

Flying international, if from Narita, takes more time since the airport is far away (90mn by bus, 1h15 by train) but equally well organised

I flew ANA in December on long haul and the service was impeccable, great food, they offer broth, what a great idea, they serve ice cream after the meal in economy, the cabin attendants go round during the whole flight offering tea, coffee, water, blankets, etc. I can only recommend them

Okinawa – #2

One thing that is very visible in the island is the number of school trips from all around the country. Okinawa has a great image for the climate, the ocean, the nature and most of the highschool trips consider Okinawa

And again, I am so impressed by the discipline, the organisation. All students stand in line. all is cool.

At the airport, they simply sit in groups quietly on the floor waiting for their flight. Best practice we could use in Europe where we always end up with a noisy messy group

 

Tokyo lights

One thing to note is that all fairs are an opportunity in Japan. Mother’s day, baseball, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, you name it, anything works!

IN december, near Yoyogi park, adjoining the NHK buildings, there was this amazing blue alley, every day at 17h00, it would switch on along the 750m that lead up to Shibuya.

They used to have this in Meguro but moved it there 3 years ago. it is a fairy tale when all lightens, I was very impressed. If you are in town in December, dont miss out, it is worth the moment, try to be there at 16h50 to see the launch any evening of the week. You may also enjoy it in 6 others cities across the country – Nagoya, Sendai, Sapporo, Hiroshima, Osaka and Fukuoka.

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Japan school lunch

have a look – http://www.businessinsider.com/japans-amazing-school-lunch-program-2017-3/#lunchtime-in-japanese-primary-schools-is-almost-sacred-it-isnt-hurried-or-hasty-kids-get-the-time-just-to-sit-and-eat-1

 

this is a model to replicate – https://youtu.be/hL5mKE4e4uU

Nara

What a beautiful day, a beautiful city. Nara, so far, remains my favourite place to visit in Japan, always peaceful, calmer than Kyoto, walkable, compact.

This Sunday, I decided to go early morning and walk around. It is always good to pay a visit to the shrine in January. I got my fair share yesterday, so many shrines in one place!

Nara used to be Japan capital and has 3 world heritage sites, you may access via the Kintestu train lines, the station is very close to the park and the monuments. I took the JR line to Nara JR Station, 50mn in rapid train from Osaka. It is 15mn walk additional vs Kintestu but you go along the shopping street, that’s ok.

Special from Nara are of course the deers but I was very happy to see that it is also Tsukemono (pickle vegetable) just like in Kyoto. I love those (watch the photos) and Kudzu.  I just received kudzu as a gift on Saturday and saw different types and flavours at the train station shop, it is a powder that you pour hot water over, it becomes a sticky juice and tastes matcha, ginger, etc.. it looks a bit like jelly, very healthy and plenty of flavour

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Allow 1 day to enjoy the city. I would recommend you go in the morning to appreciate the peace and quiet before the tourist groups arrive for their rush visit. There are 4 main locations around the park with the Daibutsu being the main attraction. All have their enchantment.