Does the title of this trip report sound familiar? It should.
A month ago I was all set to visit Japan, before a last-minute bout of illness forced a postponement. Cancelling the bookings and dealing with travel insurance was all very messy, but now that I’ve recovered, I’m ready to take a second bite at the cherry.
Don’t worry- there won’t be need for a third take. I’ve already completed the trip, and am writing this post in retrospect (although I might use forward-looking language for the sake of style). Maybe that’s how I should do all my trip planning posts from now on, in order to avoid jinxing it!
So apologies if you’ve seen some of this before, but I thought I’d do an updated article to reflect the latest Japan entry procedures (they’ve switched from MySOS to Visit Japan Web in the time since I published the initial post) as well as the revised flight, hotel and lounge reviews.
Some fun reports coming your way!
|🇯🇵 Land of the Sinking Yen|
Travel to Japan: Pre-Departure Checklist
|🇯🇵 Summary: Travel to Japan|
|Japan Border Measures|
Japan has restored visa-free access for Singaporeans and nationals of 67 other countries, effective 11 October 2022. Singaporeans may stay in Japan for up to 90 days without applying for a visa.
APEC cardholders continue to enjoy expedited immigration queues at Japanese airports and a waiver of any visa requirements.
Japan has expanded its list of recognised vaccinations to include the full WHO Emergency Use List, which is good news for those who have taken Sinopharm or Sinovac.
Three doses of any of the following vaccinations, in any combination, will satisfy the fully vaccinated criteria (Janssen and CanSino only requires two doses).
|💉Vaccinations recognised by Japan|
Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 who travel with fully vaccinated parents/guardians will be treated as fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated travellers will not need to do any pre-departure or on-arrival testing.
Unvaccinated travellers must present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. Prices in Singapore start from S$50 per person.
Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 who travel with fully vaccinated parents/guardians will be treated as fully vaccinated, and exempt from testing.
Visit Japan Web
|Visit Japan Web|
In order to expedite your arrivals process, Visit Japan Web registration should be done at least six hours prior to your scheduled arrival time. There are three sections to complete:
- Quarantine (Fast-track)
Completion of each section will generate a QR code, which travellers will show at the arrival airport.
For a full guide to the registration procedure, refer to the post below.
|✈ Land of the Sinking Yen: Flights|
Arrive: 0555 (+1)
Cabin: Business Class
Cost: 25,000 Alaska miles + US$49
Cabin: Business Class
My original plan called for a red-eye Economy flight to Tokyo-Narita on Singapore Airlines. I can’t say I was looking forward to that, so maybe it’s for the best the trip didn’t happen!
I really wasn’t expecting to find award space to Japan on short notice, but lo and behold there were Business Class seats on Japan Airlines via Alaska Mileage Plan– not to Tokyo, but to Nagasaki via Tokyo (it’s due to married segment logic; sometimes airlines make award space available on connecting flights but not direct ones).
I had no intention of going to Nagasaki, but here’s the thing: all passengers with domestic connections are required to claim their bags at the first port of entry, clear Japanese customs, and recheck it for their domestic flight. No one’s going to stop you if you leave the airport at Tokyo.
|⚠️ Important note|
|While you can do this on the way to Japan, you can’t do it on the way back. If you book an X-Y-SIN itinerary and miss the first leg, your entire itinerary will be cancelled. This also implies you can’t do it with a round-trip itinerary.|
On the return leg to Singapore, I decided to fly ZIPAIR, Japan Airlines’ wholly-owned low cost carrier with a unique Business Class product.
ZIPAIR has installed JAMCO reverse herringbone seats on its B787s, in a 1-2-1 configuration with all-aisle access. These full-flat seats are 20 inches wide with 42 inches of pitch, upholstered in leather, and equipped with individual reading lights and chargers.
Can you believe this only costs 78,660 JPY (S$777)? Yes, I had to top-up an additional 8,400 JPY (S$83) for a seat assignment, inflight meal, amenity kit and a 23kg check-in allowance, but it’s still one heck of a deal, if you ask me.
|✈️ ZIPAIR Add-on Packages|
Unbundled Business Class isn’t a new thing (Emirates and Qatar have dipped their toes in the concept), but ZIPAIR is taking it to the extreme by offering just a Business Class seat, and nothing more. What will the experience be like? Stay tuned.
|🏨 Land of the Sinking Yen: Hotels|
|Night||Hotel||Per Night Cost (Nett)|
|1-3||Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho||S$525|
The original plan was to stay at the Tokyo EDITION Toranomon, Japan’s first-ever EDITION hotel. However, the hotel was no longer available for the dates I was looking at, so I decided to switch to The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel under the Marriott Bonvoy umbrella.
Full disclosure: the stay is covered by HoteLux, a luxury privileges booking platform. I had a free choice of hotels, however, and the hotel is not involved in the review process. By booking through HoteLux, I received the 3rd night free, as well as complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, a US$100 hotel credit, welcome amenity and late check-out.
The Prince Gallery Tokyo opened in 2016, and is located on the 30-36th floors of a mixed use development. There’s 250 guestrooms, four restaurants and bars, and a fully-equipped spa and fitness centre. Shibuya and Tokyo stations are just a few stops away.
Getting a free HoteLux membership is simple if you have a World or World Elite Mastercard (and you most certainly do). Once registered, you can browse and book rates instantly through the HoteLux app.
|🍸 Land of the Sinking Yen: Lounges|
|SIN||Qatar Premium Lounge|
|NRT||Korean Airlines Lounge|
The original plan was to check out the newly reopened SilverKris Lounges at Changi Terminal 2 and revisit The Private Room (I’d have access by virtue of the fact I was arriving on a same-day Suites flight from New York).
I can’t do that with my revised flights, but I can visit the excellent Qatar Premium Lounge. I was there just before Singapore instituted its SHN for travellers returning from ASEAN, and while the details of that night are a blur, I do remember the excellent food, drink and service.
ZIPAIR doesn’t offer lounge access (unless you’re willing to pay), but my Priority Pass Card will give me access to the following lounges in Tokyo Narita:
- IASS Executive Lounge
- KAL Business Class Lounge
Neither sounds overly exciting, and I’ll probably skip this review.
Japan has now reopened for a full month, and is bound to be one of the most visited destinations for the upcoming holiday season. Having completed my trip, I can tell you the entry process is fairly painless, although lengthy immigration queues mean you shouldn’t make restaurant or activity bookings immediately after arrival.
And yes, it took a very long time, but Japan is every bit worth the wait.
Standby for the reviews!