After spending a good part of May and June abroad thanks to my trips to Canada and New Zealand, it was time to do some domestic travel in July. While I did two separate trips in the month, I decided to combine the introduction into one article as neither of the trips was particularly long.
The first of the two trips took me (together with my girlfriend and her mom) to Yakushima, a beautiful island off the coast of Kagoshima. The second one took me to Hokkaido for the Chitose Air Show that I already wrote about and to Okinawa, flying on the longest domestic flight in Japan along the way.
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Trip #1: Yakushima
There are several ways one can get to Yakushima, but being an aviation enthusiast, I decided to go by air all the way. As such, I booked a flight from Tokyo to Kagoshima and back using Avios and flights with JAC Japan Air Commuter from there to Yakushima.
While I won’t be reviewing the flights to and from Tokyo (they were both with JAL, one on a 737-800 and the other on a 767-300ER), I will be writing about the short hop from Kagoshima to Yakushima on JAC’s Dash 8 Q400.
I will also review JAL’s lounge in Kagoshima (spoiler alert – it’s not much different than the one in Tokyo or Sapporo). And, I will write about the airport’s observation deck and SORA STAGE – an aviation-themed exhibit that’s certainly worth checking out if you happen to be at Kagoshima airport.
As far as our stay in Yakushima is concerned, we stayed at Minshuku Yakusugi-sou for three nights and enjoyed two hikes during our time on the island. Even though I generally don’t write about destinations on this blog, given that I really enjoyed Yakushima and think it’s one of the less known but must-visit destinations in Japan, you can expect a brief piece about it.
Trip #2: Hokkaido and Okinawa
The second trip took place in the second half of the month for a very specific reason – Chitose Air Festival 2018. While I visited the airshow last year as well, I couldn’t miss it this year since it was the first and the last time that the two Japan Air Self Defense Force 747s were displayed together.
To get to Sapporo, I took advantage of Avios once again and booked a flight with JAL. I won’t be reviewing the flight, operated by a 777-200, but this review (less Class J seats) should give you a good idea of what it was like.
My first night (out of a total of three) in Hokkaido, I stayed at Toyoko Inn Tomakomai which I wrote about last year. The other two, I shared a room with my friend Yukihiro at the ANA Crowne Plaza – my favorite hotel near New Chitose airport.
To get back to Tokyo, I could have booked another JAL flight using Avios. Could have… Instead, I decided to spend 5,000 United miles and book Sapporo – Okinawa – Tokyo with ANA which would give me (and Yukihiro) a day in Naha, Okinawa. And, it would also give us a chance to fly on the Sapporo – Okinawa route which is the longest domestic flight in Japan.
Besides reviewing the 3-hour-long flight onboard ANA’s 737-800, I will also write about ANA’s lounge in Sapporo which I could access thanks to Yukihiro’s Star Alliance Gold status, and about a credit card lounge in Naha.
In Naha, we stayed at ANA Crowne Plaza Okinawa Harborview which I won’t be writing about. I’ll mention here, though, that when we visited, they happened to be running an Instagram contest and I was one of the winners of a free night at the hotel. Yay!
The last article in the series will be about plane spotting at Naha airport – more specifically at the observation deck on the roof of its international terminal and inside an observation hall in the domestic terminal.
I’ll be posting a couple of instalments of this series a week for the next three or four weeks, so stay tuned!