Travel to Japan

It turns out that there will be some meetings in Tokyo next March that I should probably attend somehow.  At present, I expect that I’ll just Zoom in because I wouldn’t want to sit in an airplane long enough to get there:  what seems to be the shortest flight, from Vancouver, BC to Haneda Airport, takes a bit over ten hours.  It’s too soon to be making firm travel plans since the trip is still almost a year away; but I’m wondering whether anybody can suggest some other options that I can mull over for a while.

I’m retired, so I don’t care how long the total trip would take.  I see that there are cruise ships between North America and Japan.  Another option might involve taking trains from Western Europe to the east coast of Asia and flying from there; and maybe I should ride the trans-Siberian train before I die. 😎



  1. billseymour says

    I already have a fantasy: 😎

    – Amtrak to San Diego.
    – Alaska Airlines to Honolulu.
    – Japan Airlines to Tokyo.
    – A week and a half of meetings.
    – A couple of weeks being a tourist in Japan.
    – Norwegian Cruise Line to Seward, AK.
    – Ferry to Vancouver, BC.
    – The Canadian to Toronto.
    – The Maple Leaf to any of several stations in upstate New York.
    – The Lake Shore Limited to Chicago.
    – The Texas Eagle home.

    The flight from San Diego to Hawaii takes about six and a half hours, but I’ve done it several times and know that it’s survivable.  The flight from Honolulu to Tokyo takes around eight and a half hours, which I definitely won’t like; but I might put up with it if the rest of the trip works out.

    Or I’ll just attend the meetings via Zoom like I’m currently planning to do. 😎

  2. anthrosciguy says

    We did a repositioning cruise to Japan a few years back. It’s much more than economy flights, but not that much more than business and far less than 1st class. It’s your basic Alaska cruise and some open sea days and a stop in Hokkaido for a day. It was nice to get to the destination with no jet lag.

    The open sea days are a little dull and because it’s far north the roof over the pool area was closed, making for increased chlorine smell at the pool. But it mostly depends on your feelings about cruises; some people like them and some don’t. Also, if you’re traveling as a single, the cruise will carry a large extra cost.

  3. JimB says

    It takes 17 days by Navy ship. San Diego to Yokosuka Japan on the USS Blue Ridge in 1979. And we didn’t stop once.

    Coming back to the states after 27 months in Japan I flew. Commercial. But the flight was only maybe 25% full. So everybody sat on the sides and slept in the middle rows. That was like 15 or 16 hours. It sucked.

    I’ve thought it would be cool to go back again. See what I remember from 40 years ago. It did give me a ton of great stories though.

  4. Alan G. Humphrey says

    You could amend your fantasy to make it a trip around the world by taking Amtrak to Seattle, reversing the ferry and cruise leg to Japan, meetings, flying to China from Japan, taking trains across China, India and Pakistan, flying to your favorite city in Europe for train rides west to London, fly to NY, and finish with the last part of your fantasy. The iffy scheduling across south Asia comes after the meetings, so no time constraint there, and much better than the possibility of a few years in Russian prisons for being a spy interfering with the meetings in Japan in your alternate fantasy.

  5. Gary Kazin says

    When we visited Alaska in 2013 for the National Railway Historical Society convention, we saw one Princess ship heading for Asia; it had made its last Inside Passage trip of the season in September and was going to warmer waters. This kind of move may be your best way to get to and from Japan as it is a one-way trip.

    I’ve written to you many times about our Japan trips in 2006 and 2007. Getting there was not so bad, non-stop from Newark to Narita. We can handle long flights mostly by sleeping…

    You may want to spend time in Japan before or after the meetings. Going early helps your metabolism handle the time change, staying longer is just fun. Once you’ve paid to get there, you might as well stay and enjoy the destination (unlike one of our friends, who doesn’t want to pay for lodgings).

    Most of Japan is accessible by train, but you may need taxis to hotels, etc, especially with luggage. Travel light! With three people on our trips, we did need to do laundry. Our daughter had a connection with the hotel we used in Hakodate, so our laundry was done there overnight, but I wouldn’t count on it and if available it will be expensive, paying for each piece. I also found a self-service laundromat in Kyoto.

    If you will ride many trains, get a rail pass, sold only outside Japan. You get a voucher to be exchanged for the actual pass at Narita. Be careful with the pass, treat it like money – it cannot be replaced. On the 2007 trip, I lost mine in Nagasaki and paid about $300 to return to Hakodate – about what the pass had cost.

    Shinkansens don’t go everywhere in Japan and there are plenty of other trains to ride – conventional 42-inch gauge trains, interurban-like trains, and streetcars. We used them all and enjoyed our travels.

    If you want the my logs from both trips, let me know.

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