I was all excited to see that the first leg of my favorite reality TV show, the Amazing Race on CBS, was set in Japan! The theme of this season’s competition is that all of the pairs that are racing are either dating or blind-dating.

The first 90 minute episode, which just concluded, saw teams fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Interestingly they used Taiwan as a connecting city. I have my reasons for why they planned this to be the case, but this article is not about that!

If you landed in Tokyo’s Narita airport, how would YOU start your Amazing Race in the land of the rising sun?

I have written an article on my blog that explains options for traveling from airports in Japan, which I hope you will look at. But in the meantime, here’s a brief summary of what was featured on The Amazing Race:

Teams pretty much went in one of three ways: Taxi, Skyliner (train), or Narita Express (train). At first I thought to myself, TAXI?! If you are starting your Amazing Race on a budget, the Taxi is the LAST thing that you want to take from Narita. Considering Narita’s large distance away from Tokyo, you would be better off saving money by taking public transport into Tokyo, using the train or bus, then if needed take a Taxi to your final destination. Taxis in Japan are pricey already, but they will be far less expensive to use when you get into the city compared to picking one up at the airport. In addition, Taxis MAY be subject to delays when traveling on the highway… I forgot how each team fared on the way from the airport, so if you want to check, just go to CBS and look at Season 26, Episode 1 of the Amazing Race on demand :)

In a nutshell, here is a speed and price comparison for the main travel methods going into Tokyo Station, one of the main transit hubs in the city. By the way… you can get more of Japan by tuning in to the Amazing Race on Friday (February 27) when the teams will visit Nagano!

TRAIN
JR Narita Express, One Hour, 3,020 yen each way

Keisei Skyliner, One Hour (Change at Nippori Station), 2,470 yen for Skyliner + 160 yen JR Yamanote Line = 2,630 yen

Local JR Commuter Train, 90 minutes, 1,320 yen each way

Local Keisei Commuter Train, 90-120 minutes depending on route, ~1,200-1,500 yen depending on route

BUS
Airport Limousine Bus, 1 hour 45 minutes depending on traffic, 3,100 yen each way

Discount Bus to Tokyo Station (Keisei/Be-Transse/JR Bus), 70 minutes depending on traffic, 1,000 yen each way

TAXI
Flat-fare taxi from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station 19,000 yen

Hailed taxi from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station ~20,000-30,000 yen and up depending on the meter and traffic conditions

Here’s a Youtube video that I posted from my 2013 trip to Japan explaining how to purchase Shinkansen tickets from a vending machine. I hope to share more video from my trip in the weeks/months to come :)

Today Delta Air Lines launched a sale on its flights to Tokyo Haneda – the ones that land and take off during the late night/early morning hours. The fares for flights connecting to these are also discounted.

The Economy airfare on Delta from Los Angeles is $600 round-trip… that’s right, ROUND TRIP, for flights departing and returning on all dates in April and May, except Fridays and Saturdays. Flights from Seattle to Haneda are $680 round-trip for almost the same time frame.

Lowest airfares from connecting cities:

*San Francisco, $615 r/t

*Las Vegas, $615 r/t

*Denver, $782 r/t

*Dallas DFW, $797 r/t

*San Antonio, $841 r/t

*Houston, $913 r/t

*Minneapolis, $931 r/t

*Chicago, $841 r/t

*Orlando, $745 r/t

*Baltimore, $841 r/t

*New York, $745 r/t

*Boston, $942 r/t

Note that you may have to connect once OR TWICE in either direction for the trip. Also, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, it’s HANEDA. You’ll need to do some research to figure out the best options to/from the airport late in the evening, and you will also want to double check your departure time going back to the US… If it’s a 12:10 AM flight on a Monday, then be sure to show up on Sunday night!

Posted by: jrhorse | February 25, 2015

Coming Soon – Videos!

A quick post to let everyone know that I’ve “unearthed” my videos from the September 2013 trip to Japan, and I hope to share some of these videos with you in the near future! I have more free time over the next few weeks, so hopefully I will make some progress.

My first video, hopefully (the key word), will be how to purchase Japnese bullet train tickets from a vending machine.

Discovered today is a discounted airfare from Chicago O’Hare Airport to Tokyo for last minute travel in early March.
The dates for departure and return are extremely limited – either March 3 or March 5 for the departure, and March 7, 12, 14, 21, 24 or 28 for the return.
The flight out to Tokyo leaves Chicago at 1:10 PM. After a connection in San Francisco you arrive at Haneda Airport at 10:30 PM the next day.
The return trip, however, requires you to fly from Haneda Airport to Beijing, China, and after a 5 hour layover, return on United’s nonstop flight from Beijing to Chicago.
A search on the United Airlines website yielded a sample fare of $759 round-trip.
If you prefer to fly nonstop both ways from Chicago, the cheapest nonstop fare is currently $1,115 round-trip on ANA, United, JAL and American.

This fare was checked 2/18/15 10 AM Eastern, subject to change.

Posted by: jrhorse | February 16, 2015

Airfare Alert – Las Vegas to Japan for $700 round-trip

Posted last night on my Facebook page:

I’m here in Las Vegas where the Rugby Sevens tournament has just wrapped up. While looking for Japan airfares for a friend out here, I found some interesting information worth sharing.

There’s a last-minute airfare deal from Las Vegas to Japan for travel in late February or early March. The deal is on Hawaiian Airlines to Osaka’s Kansai Airport. The itinerary requires you to take Hawaiian’s early morning (1:45 AM) departure from Las Vegas to Honolulu. There is an eight-hour layover, which means you might be able to sneak away for a nice Hawaiian breakfast! Arrival in Osaka is the following day at 7:05 PM. The return leaves Osaka at 9:05 PM, arriving Honolulu the same morning once the time changes take effect. After a 5 1/2 hour layover for customs (and a potential Hawaiian lunch), you are back in Las Vegas at 11:40 PM.

All in all, it’s a total 25 hour journey going from Las Vegas to Osaka if the stopover in Honolulu is included, and about 18-19 hours on the way back.

While Google’s airfare search spit out a round-trip fare of $851 round-trip, a direct search on the Hawaiian Airlines website brings the fare down to as low as $700 round-trip. While the dates departing to Japan are limited to late February and early March, the time frame for the return seems to be slightly loose. If I remember correctly, Hawaiian Airlines will allow you to check up to two bags at no charge for the journey (per person).

If long layovers or trips are not your forte, for another $300 more or so you can fly from Las Vegas to Tokyo on American/JAL connecting in Los Angeles.

This airfare was re-checked on Monday afternoon February 16 (Pacific Time) and is subject to change! :)

Posted by: jrhorse | February 5, 2015

Watch the Japanology Plus show on NHK World

For those of you who have the NHK World channel I highly recommend this week’s Japanology Plus show, hosted by Peter Barakan, about the building of the Seikan Tunnel. If you don’t have NHK World you can watch it online… There are only a few more chances to watch it today (Feb. 5).

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/tv/japanologyplus/

The Seikan Tunnel links northern Honshu with the island of Hokkaido. Train services began in 1988; bullet trains will start running through the tunnel next year.

Posted by: jrhorse | January 31, 2015

Japan Tips now on Facebook!

I’ve just opened the Jose’s Japan Tips Facebook page!

You can now visit Jose’s Japan Tips:
- On Facebook: facebook.com/myjapantips
- On Twitter: @myjapantips
– and, of course, here at myjapantips.com.

Thanks for your continued support!

Posted by: jrhorse | January 30, 2015

Thanks for the support!

I am writing a quick message to thank everyone for their support! Also, over the last couple of days I have received numerous emails, mostly through my personal inbox, about Japan travel. Because of this, I won’t be able to reply to everyone as quickly as I normally do – but I WILL get to everyone.

If you have any travel questions for me, please send a message and I will reply as soon as the queue subsides :) in other words, the mantra of “messages answered in the order they are received” applies.

Arigatou and thanks again!

Posted by: jrhorse | January 24, 2015

Last-minute fare from New York to Tokyo $922 round-trip

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A last minute fare exists on United Airlines for travel from New York to Tokyo, costing just $922 round-trip. It’s a great deal if you want to spend a weekend in Tokyo.

You must depart from Newark Airport on the morning of Wednesday, January 28 and connect in San Francisco, arriving in Haneda Airport at 10:35 PM on Thursday, January 29. You are then free in Tokyo on Friday, Saturday and Sunday before departing early Monday morning, February 2, from Haneda on an All Nippon flight to Hong Kong, connecting after a 6 hour layover to the nonstop United Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Newark Airport. Arrival time back in Newark is 1:50 PM on February 2. You can check up to two bags at no charge for your itinerary.

The information in this post is accurate as of Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 1 PM Eastern Time and is subject to change.

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