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Old Jan 11, 13, 12:41 pm   #1
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YYZ-HKG-NRT//HND-HKG-YYZ - CX J - And Japan Trip Details

Better late than never...wow, it is almost a year old...

Another family trip to Japan. This time to revisit a few places that I had been to 5 years ago….this time with my daughter. Second time for her in Japan.

Booked with BA miles…thankfully just before BA decided to screw us in NA with their devaluation.

Several calls to useless BAEC staff in NA was required for the booking. I had originally wanted to book YYZ-HKG-KIX…was told this was not possible..why, I have no idea. Even after I had already booked one ticket in F, at least in F from YYZ-HKG. Since there were only 2 J seats per flight at the time of booking, even at 355 out, I had booked an F and 2 J’s. Having booked the YYZ-HKG-KIX in F, the agent then proceeded to tell me that actually it could not be booked when I tried to book the J flights on the same itin – and was told it was being cancelled…still to this day, I do not know why.

I therefore just told the agent to book to Tokyo, HANEDA…well, that was big mess also. Having said Tokyo, Haneda EVERY time during the booking process, why when I got the confirmations back they were into NRT, is totally beyond me. I even gave the flight numbers to HND. I suppose I blame myself for not asking for flight numbers when the flight was read back but live and learn. Not less than 10 minutes after I noticed the flights were YYZ-HKG-NRT….versus YYZ-HKG-HND….I called back and tried to change…sorry, that is going to cost you. Given it had taken 5 or 6 calls already to book this in the first place, I gave up.

So booked YYZ-HKG-NRT 2J and 1F. Now originally I wanted 3 J seats but as the flight approached, I was looking forward to flying F…however, my chance in F would be dashed with CX’s removal of F out of YYZ. Now in all honesty, I really only wanted J in the first place. That said, I am still angry that there is no recourse when through no fault of my own, I am involuntarily downgraded from F to J. In fact, neither BA nor CX even advised of the same. I really only found out since as a true FT’er, I always check up on things. I actually noticed it after CX announced they dropped F on YYZ –HKG…and sure enough, I was in J…I originally tried to lay low but not less than 12 hours after I updated my telephone number in MMB for this booking, a BAEC agent called to say sorry….

So when all is said and done, 3 seats, YYZ-HKG(stop over)-NRT J (CX)… FUK-HND Y (well paid 3000 Y to upgrade) (JAL)…HND-HKG(stop over)-YYZ J (CX) – for 313,500 BA miles or actually, only, 209K miles from my CC and about 600 or so in taxes.

Equipment 77G
Seats 21D/G/K

To all those that whine about kids in J, my daughter was asleep for 11 hours…the person using an ipad without headphones made more noise and not ONE person said anything.

Flight was great. FA had upgraded her parents from Y+ to J and also her 20 month old. Worked great. She was fantastic and pretty much did not take any break and pax in the rear J cabin pretty much had an FA in the same the whole time.

The 1:30 depature out of YYZ is great for sleep and arrival into HKG without much jet lag...I have more cabin photos on some other trip reports and later on on other segments.

Very odd to see the F fixtures on the 77G…

Food was good but hard to eat at 3am.

Love two windows.

Probably about as north as I have been on this route in the past…of course I never sleep on this flight.

Nice noodles..

Little miss mkjr wakes up and plays with electronic babysitter…WITH HEADPHONES…noise cancelling ones that is.

Last edited by mkjr; Oct 16, 13 at 7:28 am
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Old Jan 11, 13, 12:43 pm   #2
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Arrival in HKG was as it normally is…very early in the AM.

Went to the arrivals lounge, which was now open to J pax. Nice to have a shower before going into HKG although this proved to not be need as the LMO (Landmark Mandarin Oriental) allowed use of the spa facilities upon early arrival. Had something to eat.

Since I have been to HKG many times and would be there for a few days in a week or so, just laid low at the hotel and saw a few sights with relatives.

Stayed at the LMO.

Outstanding. I think this is better than the MO (or the old hotel as our local friend living in midlevel’s refers to the regular MO versus this hotel as the new one). The rooms and pool are great and so is the service. We were given a room very early for check in which is very nice.

My only criticism (it’s up to you as to whether this is minor or major) and actually almost prevented me from giving it top marks is the hotel appears to have a policy that the L450 rooms can accommodate maximum two guests (including adults and child) only regardless of whether the child shares the bedding with the parents - not sure where I can find this on the website, however (I looked but PM me if you can find it and I can read). We were with a 5 year old who is tiny. Now the king bed in the L450 is bigger IMO than a normal king bed…wider but not longer. The room is huge and is bigger than most hotel rooms in Hong Kong and probably as large as any hotel I have stayed in around the world as far as a standard king size bedded room goes.

I was rather annoyed when I was advised of this policy and accepted the fact that if they needed to push us up to a L600, I would accept that. In fact, told them as such by stating “If, however, as you note below, this is not possible per your hotel “rules”, then by all means, modify the reservation to the room type noted below [The L600].” Personally, it really did not make a huge difference to me in terms of cost to the room. I had a decent corporate rate with them, enjoyed the MO and decided to try out the LMO versus staying at the Four Seasons - this was my wife's choice and neither of us cared about cost.

They then they OK’d the L450 for us after I noted my surprise. That said, on arrival I was given the same run around. Thankfully, had a print out saying the L450 was fine. I should note that this type of policy is not the same at the Four Seasons or the Upper House. Both allow two adults and a child sharing the same bedding. Also, to have to give them evidence it was OK’d on arrival was certainly not something I expected of a 5* hotel and certainly merits a comment about the same here. They even made a photo copy of an email they should have had...in fact, as I recall, they had some emails that I had sent to them. Just not the one saying the L450 is fine...again, I was OK with the L600 but merely noted that to my knowledge, I was not aware of any other hotel where this was an issue with a child the age of ours sharing the same bedding. It should be noted, they said no more than 3. Not, 2 is OK but a 3rd is extra. No third.

Nevertheless, the hotel is a remarkable property. Being provided access to the spa for a shower prior to a room was outstanding. The bar was very nice as was the food in the restaurant. All in all, perhaps the best hotel and services I have stayed in other than the one comment above, which I comment about for others who might be in my situation.

Little miss mkjr and miss mkjr on the star ferry…

Our room at the LMO.

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Old Jan 11, 13, 12:52 pm   #3
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Depart 09:10
Arrive 14:35

Equipment, regional 773.

Not too many shots off the flight from HKG to NRT. The food was very good. Japan based flight crew was very very good.

Was meeting a buddy on arrival who was coming in from SFO...both of us remarked at the wind on arrival...see above, I should have been in HND.

I picked up a pocket wifi and was able to get everything up and running along with using HidemyA$s so i was able to stream netflix for my daughter on the NEX into Tokyo Station.

Since we were meeting a buddy for dinner, wanted to stay close to where he works....

Hotel Metro Maranouchi in Tokyo.

I have stayed at the Marunouchi hotel and this property. I booked our corporate rate which is the only reason I chose this property since it was 5000 below the posted rate - BTW, that should be an indication that what you can get on their site might not be the best rate out there.

For a hotel that needs to be very close to the Shinkansen entrance at Tokyo station to catch the first train out of Tokyo after arrival from NA the night before when you are wide awake at 6am in the morning, this is perfect. Less than 5 minutes...I mean really....litterly less than five minutes from hotel exit to the shinkansen platforms in Tokyo station.

Also, lots of places to eat around. Room was perhaps one of the smallest I have had in Japan. Was charged extra for my wife but not for my child sharing the same bed.

If cost was the same as other properties in the area, I would stay at the Marunouchi over this one and potentially the station at the hotel when it re-opens in 2012 station itself.

view was nice.

I think we could see the mandarin in Tokyo's bar...another option but decided to just take something a little cheaper.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:03 pm   #4
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Activated our Japan Rail pass the next morning and off to Kyoto.

I really love the fact that you can buy such great food at stations in Japan.

and with portable wifi, nothing like streaming netflix on the shinkansen.

Nice view of fuji yama on they way to Kyoto.

Checked into the Hotel Granvia - very good location in case you are planning to check out other areas around Kyoto.

Nice view from room.

I love Kyoto Station.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto

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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:15 pm   #5
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Some nice Ramen at the "Ramen Lab" on the back side of Kyoto Station....south side on your way to Toji (a place I had been to several times but not my wife and child).

Checked out Toji, walked over to Hachijobo park - saw the new aqarium but we do not fund these places any longer.

Went over to the recently restroed Nishi hongan-ji : This temple has a very big wooden building as a mail hall of this temple, probably the biggest one in Japan, 48meter in east-west span, 62meter in north-south span and 29meter in height.

Also went to the costume museum. I recall being here in the early 90s.

Dinner at Ten Ichi with some friends who live in Nara. This place is to die for...second time at this location.

and a nice photo of Kyoto tower after dinner.

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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:20 pm   #6
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Had to have some fun time with our daugther. So we sent to Universal Japan. I enjoyed it a lot.

The best ride was these little cars for kids under 6. They were not on tracks. I feel bad for my daughter who could not understand the japenese instructions.


Went to dinner at this restaurant called Nenohi in Osaka. It blew us away.

Sorry, no food pictures...we just have it in our heads as a memory....

Looking at it would after words would be too painful...did take some pictures of the inside of the place. I believe it is part owned by the founder of Sony.

Next up, some adult fun....the Yamazaki Distillery and the Suntory Premium Malt Brewery.

Last edited by mkjr; Oct 16, 13 at 7:26 am
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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:29 pm   #7
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So we love scotch. So after some checking around, we found that you could visit the Yamazaki distillery just outside of Kyoto. Our concierge managed to get us in a tour the same day...we were SOO lucky to get in.

The place is huge and very instesting. You have an english audio guide that works well and there was a very nice guy who was Japanese but had lived in California for several years that was happy to also translate what the guides were saying to the rest of the tour group...ALL Japenese...in fact, we did not see a single western person.

Ah...the tasting room....most were drininking with sparkling water from the area...so they brough us both and some neat.

And what tour does not end in a gift shop...

A museum in the gift shop area...and a tasting tower at the exit...

Wow...was that fun...now i need a rest....
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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:37 pm   #8
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So my wife and I were chatting with the guy who used to live in California. He knew his stuff and directed us to buy some very limited only produced there whiskey...

We had a good chat and also had a glass at the tasting tower. In fact, we got along so well with him, he invited us along with the three others he was with to the Suntory Brewery - close by. One can not decline such an offer...a distillery and a brewery in the same day....sure...just make sure we do not forget our daughter...

Even without reservations, this quasi american guy just phone ahead and said it would be OK since we were non-japanese and could get away without the typically required reservation.

Huge place.

Bottle lines running also - FYI, they do not run on weekends.

Wow...lots of kegs...

OK, so here is how the tasting room works.

They first show you how to pour the beer properly. They they say 4 beers per person but if a person in your group does not have their share, then you can have what they do not....BUT>>>>you can only stay 20 minutes....

I went into University mode....after the 4th, I stopped taking pictures...

you can sort of see my fingers getting much looser...

thankfully, some ramen at Kyoto station with lots of fat helped with the booze...

The best was the place from Tokushima.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:46 pm   #9
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One more day in Kyoto. Our friend took us to one of the oldest Sake breweries in Kyoto and one of the few remaining following the move of the capital away from Kyoto.

Of course you can always tell where the sake breweries are....

We were then off to Hiroshima. Sadly, I did not know that the Sakura train can be picked up from Shin-Osaka station but it does not go as far as Kyoto...now the Sakura train is pretty much a pretty fancy Green Car but without the Green Car Premium. We would take it from Hiroshima to Hakata a few days later.

My wife was sick last time we went to miyajima island...sadly, this time, the tori was in scaffolding....oh well, still pretty impressive.

Our friend showed us around again. Make sure you go at high tide.

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Old Jan 11, 13, 1:53 pm   #10
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A little walking around Hiroshima.

Love the old trams.

Rebuilt portion of Hiroshima Castle

A more somber place in the city.

Afterwords, some real okonomiyaki...sorry to those from Osaka....

Speaking to some shop keepers, she was very happy to see more western tourists coming back to Japan....come to think of it, it was only when she mentioned radiation issues because of the tsunami that i even gave any thought about the same....
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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:03 pm   #11
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Then off to see the carp play.

Very cool Friday night game. A very nice win. Expect to see Kenta Maeda in the MLB in due course....IMO of course.

Had dinner with friends and then hopped on the train down to Hakata. We had originally planned to just stay an extra day in Hiroshima but given how far out of the city the airport is, we decided to go to FUK since it is soooo close.

The station is brand new and just beautiful.

Locals were invited to contribute art to the station.

The famous festival depicted on the station wall.

The food floor in the department store in the station just blew us away.

We stayed at this hotel in Hakata..hightly recommended. Report here.

I have some photos also.

I can not say enough about the hotel.

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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:09 pm   #12
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Our guide met us at the station.

Went to where they start the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival race...

I almost lifted...yah right...one of the rocks that the big sumo guys are only supposed to lift..

After we went to the flagship store for the Ichiran chain...personally, better than ippudo... and that is the ippudo in Hakata and not some off-shoot chain in NYC or HKG...

I mean where better to go for some Hakata Ramen than well, Hakata...

Last edited by mkjr; Oct 16, 13 at 7:27 am
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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:15 pm   #13
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Some photos of some of the temples in Hakata.

Then out for lunch for some famous Gyoza...

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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:20 pm   #14
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Our next stop in Hakata was to the Asahi brewery. This is by far my favorite beer and thankfully, we can actually get the stuff that is brewed in Japan, locally. Although I wish we could get the Asahi Super Dry BLACK....that stuff was very good.

It helps to have a person show you around since I would never have found this place.

And of course...same tasting rules as at Suntory.

I will not lie, i drank slightly less here than at Suntory...
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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:33 pm   #15
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We flew back from FUK to HND. For some reason, I did not take pictures of either the airport or the plane. I think this was since we left our hotel with only 55 minutes to spare.

We were concerned this was not enough time but it was more than enough.

In fact, we were too early to clear security.

Another hickup was that we had our whiskey bought from our visit to Yamazaki in our checked luggage.

JAL staff had X-ray'd the same and advised us this was not permitted. We were freaked out but guess what, no problem with it being in our carry on as the silly no liquid rule does not apply to carryon on domestic Japanese flights.

So back to the good old days of having carryon full of booze.

Nice. We upgraded from Y to J Class for 1000 each. In retrospect, given no meal even in J but nice large seat, we should have paid 8000 each and upgraded to F....oh well, live and learn.

Was only 4500 miles and 1.40 or so in taxes plus the upgrade.

Arriving into Tokyo, we were hungry...as always, we stay at the Park Hotel. Mostly because its close to some outstanding and cheap sushi places...not the ones silly people line up at (sorry, i do not do lines...).

This place is amazing. We went twice. I think we spent no more than 8000 yen for both of us each time.

mmmm....tuna (clearly my Hg intake for the year).

The chef remember the second time that we were splitting the pieces so saved us some time.

And the sashimi tower...i recall this was only 3000 yen or so....

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