In this post I will update you on the Tohoku Shinkansen and I will let you know about some offers and deals for travel to Japan. Remember that the issues at the nuclear power plant in Japan have curtailed the available power supply. If demand for power exceeds supply, especially as the hot summer months pass, there may be issues with transportation as well as some inconveniences. I encourage you to pay close attention to the situation and be prepared for a Plan B if something doesn’t exactly go your way.
First, the Tohoku Shinkansen – which is operational while undergoing repairs – will be changing to a new timetable on July 9. These timetable changes will lift the speed restrictions imposed on some sections of the line. On average the end-to-end travel times will shorten up by as much as 30 minutes. Of course, the timetable is only available in Japanese, which you can view here. Also, with this timetable change, services on the Yamagata Shinkansen will return to normal operating frequencies and running times.
Now for some offers from travel companies to try to entice people to visit Japan once again:
Delta is once again offering a double/triple mileage offer for flights to and from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which are being restarted this month. Members of Delta’s frequent flier program, Skymiles, will get double mileage for flights in Economy Class and triple mileage for flights in Business Class. This promotion expires on September 30, and you must register with Delta by September 15. This offer is similar to what Delta offered when flights to/from Haneda first started. There are pros and cons – the bad news is that you’ll be landing in Tokyo at a late hour, and late-night transportation options will be limited. On the other hand, if you flew in Economy on Delta’s nonstop service from Detroit to Haneda (set to resume mid-June), you would earn 25,588 miles on your Frequent Flier account (6,397 miles * two trips * double mileage), which will give you enough mileage for a FREE basic round-trip economy award on Delta within the 48 states. Ta-da!
JTB USA has special Ganbare Nippon (Good Luck Japan) travel packages which include round-trip airfare, four nights hotel accomodations in Tokyo and round-trip airport limousine bus transfers. If you live in Los Angeles and travel in a limited time range in July (July 21-26), you can take this trip for as low as $1,100 per person double occupancy! You can look up more of JTB’s offers on their website.
Another offer is a far time away… but if you live in Boston or New England, start planning! Japan Airlines is planning to start nonstop air service from Boston’s Logan Airport to Tokyo’s Narita Airport in April of 2012. This service will be operated by Boeing’s long-awaited 787-8 “Dreamliner” airplane, and you can book your seats NOW if you wanted to. The service will operate 4 times a week initially, departing Boston at 1:20 PM and arriving in Tokyo the next day at 4:00 PM. The return leaves Tokyo at 11:30 AM and arrives in Boston the same day at 11:20 AM. American Airlines will codeshare on this new service. One thing you can enjoy about the trip: the exterior look… Japan Airlines, or JAL for short, will be introducing its famous crane logo once again as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. More details here.
Finally, once you are in Japan, head on over to the Kansai region and check out the new look of the area around JR Osaka station, Osaka Station City. The area includes new and refurbished department stores, almost 200 smaller stores, and a movie cinema. Read more about it on the official Osaka Station City website. Remember, Osaka station is one stop away by JR train from Shin-Osaka, the stop served by the bullet trains.