I’m Going to Tokyo #ANASEA

ANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flightANA 787 in flight

ANA 787 in flight

Yes, I’m going to Tokyo and I’m very excited about it.

But I jumped to the end of the story before telling you about how this came to be, why it’s important to me, and how you can help make sure my trip is everything I want it to be.  So let’s rewind just a little bit. . . .

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is launching a new service between Seattle and Tokyo on July 25th, 2012.  The daily flight departs Seattle at 1:15 pm and ten and a half hours later arrive at Narita at 3:45 pm (the next day).  For visitors interested in traveling on to other cities within Japan, or making connections to other destinations in Asia, this arrival neatly coincides with outbound flights. The outbound flight leaves Tokyo at 5:25 pm and arrives in Seattle at 10:55 am that same day.  Yeah, I know all that time change can be crazy, but essentially you lose a day going over and get in back on the return.

Fellow travel blogger and friend Andy Hayes (publisher of Sharing Travel Experiences) and I were asked to be ambassadors for ANA’s Seattle-Narita launch.  Woo hoo!  We haven’t been to Japan, so this was an exciting opportunity to say yes to.  But what does being a launch ambassador really mean?  Well, here’s just a little bit about what we’ll be doing.

Attending a launch party at Boeing where we’ll get to take a peek at the ANA product.  And we got to invite a few friends to join us.  I’m no stranger to inflight service and aircraft configuration, and I’ve heard incredible things about the product that the Asian carriers are putting out, so I’m more than just a little curious to see what they’ll be doing on this route.  And I’m also dying to take a look at the Dreamliner – and to see if it’s all that it’s been touted to be.  (NOTE:  The route will be flown by the Boeing 777 to start with, then change to the 787 Dreamliner when ANA takes delivery of more of those aircraft.)  Have you taken a look at the interior schematic of those things?  Andy and I will be tweeting from the launch party using the hash tag #ANASEA, so follow Andy and me on twitter if you want the real time scoop.

Take a look at this interior.  Isn’t it a thing of beauty (airplane geekness coming out).

787 interior ANA

And how about these lie-flat seats and private cubicles in business class? That 10 1/2 hour flight will fly by with that kind of comfort. And with staggered seating arrangement, no one will see me drooling while I sleep.

787 business lie flat seats ANA

ANA is also sending Andy and I to Tokyo so we can experience the business class hospitality offered.  We’ve haven’t coordinated dates yet, but it will probably be sometime in the early fall.  While I’ve never flown on the Boeing 777, there’s a part of me that hopes we can schedule our trip when the Dreamliner is in service.  We’ll be staying in Tokyo for a few days, again hosted by ANA, and we’re even talking about staying on for a few days longer on our own.  I’ve ordered a couple guidebooks, have started talking to friends who’ve been to Japan, and we’ve started a Tokyo Pinterest board to help with our planning.  Both Andy and I are big at research and planning.

The planning stage is where we need some help.  We’ve never been to Tokyo.  Maybe you have.  And if you have, I know you’re going to have some suggestions for us.  And if you have some suggestions for us, we want to hear them.  Here are just a few of the things that I want to know:

  • Attractions and sites worth seeing – I’m big on history and cultural sites, so any recommendations along those lines are sure to be a hit.  Also, what about some quiet spots for a bit of a respite.  Tokyo is a crazy busy city, so is there a park or speciat spot where I can relax for a bit before heading off to the next activity?
  • Shopping – Sure, I know Tokyo is expensive, but there must be some place to find gifts to take home and a nice souvenir to remember it by.  I tend to buy a nice gift for myself, something that I can use and enjoy, rather than a bunch of little tsotchkes.  What’s a good gift to myself that will serve as a reminder of Japan.  And, what are the fun markets for people watching, getting a sense of the city, and just having a good time?
  • Food – It may be heresy, but I really don’t care for sushi.  What other great food choices can I make?  I love noodle shops and wagyu beef, so that’s a start.  But what else?
  • What to wear – I know Tokyo is a major city, much like New York, but what’s the general dress code.  NYC is upscale and hip, is Tokyo the same way?  Can I tour around in casual jeans and a t-shirt or do I need to be more stylishly put together?  What about for going out at night, not the clubs – I’m long past that stage – but for drinks, dinner, or general entertainment.  What am I going to need to pack?
  • Internet access – Since we’ll want to tweet and post to Facebook on a regular basis, we’re going to need reliable internet access.  It would be better if it was wireless.  And best if it was free.  Is that possible to find in Tokyo?  Or do we need to just bite the bullet and take a mi-fi with us?  Sharing our real time experiences as two newbies in Tokyo is an important part of the ambassador program, so we need to figure out how to best get access.
  • iPhone use – We both have iPhones and we’ll want the best tips you have for avoiding those often exorbitant cell phone charges.  Should we jailbreak our phones and get a sim card?  Would you buy in advance or when we get there?  I’ve always avoided using my phone when traveling abroad, so am really looking for practical tips here.
  • What did I miss?  What other tips and helpful recommendations do you have to share?

Let me say it again – I’m going to Tokyo!

Photo credits:  All courtesy of ANA

ANA Ambassador Badge

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

13 Responses to “I’m Going to Tokyo #ANASEA”

  1. June 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Cool! I’ve never been but Dave spends a few weeks a year there. He says drinks at the top of the Shinagawa Prince hotel, Nikko town and park for shrine and the Asakusa neighborhood for shopping. Since you don’t like raw fish and sushi – be sure to try sukiyaki! That plane looks amazing!

    • June 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm #


      Thanks for the tips, Margo. Sounds like some good stops for our sightseeing. I’ve had sukiyaki here at home but sure it’s nowhere near the awesomeness of having it in Tokyo.

  2. June 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Hi Mary Jo,
    How exciting that you’re off to Tokyo. Yes, I’ve been but not under the lovely flying conditions you’ll be doing it.
    You asked for advice about Japan so I’m sending along this blog post situated on our Journeywoman website. It’s called, ’20 Things Women Should Know Before Travelling to Tokyo (and Japan)’. I hope it helps. LINK: http://www.journeywoman.com/gfc/20ThingsWomenShouldKnowAboutTokyo.htm

    P.S. If you need or want more it’s all in our section called: GirlTalk Japan-a mini guide: http://www.journeywoman.com/girltalk/girl_talk_japan.html

  3. June 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    So excited! Aviation geek moment!

    Thanks for those tips Margo – forgot that Dave has been there a lot.

  4. June 24, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    How exciting! Tokyo (and really all of Japan) is fantastic – my absolute favorite place.

    Free wifi is pretty non-existant there…most hotels offer free internet to plug into, but few have wifi. It’s sooo helpful to have the iphone for maps and directions though! I’ve bought international roaming credits from AT&T before and just tried to forget about the price until I’m home 😉 Jailbreaking may be a cheaper option.

    For shopping I highly recommend Ito-Ya in Ginza – 7 stories of stationary!! I found my favorite gifts for myself there.

    • June 24, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      @Ashley at No Onions Extra Pickles,

      I shudder at the price of international wi-fi. I think I’ll look into a portable mi-fi situation and see if it’s more cost efficient. And I’m about due for a new phone, so jailbreaking may be an option as well.

  5. June 24, 2012 at 6:55 am #

    Hi MJ!

    Wish I was going with you! I lived in Tokyo many years ago and loved it. I’ll try and give you brief answers to your questions:
    – people in Tokyo dress very formally, for the most part; the young people can be very hip; I would opt for conservative
    – there are lots of parks in Tokyo! I would highly recommend a visit to the Imperial Palace gardens and to Omotesando (known as the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo), which runs into a famous park
    – for food, try the endless food halls in the big department stores on the Ginza; and go to Yakitori and Tempura restaurants
    – there’s a famous noodle house called Nagasaka in my old neighbourhood, Nishi Azabu — try and find it!
    – there are several historic areas in Tokyo, but generally it is a new city; it was bombed very badly during the war, and re-built.

    Have fun! The metro and bus system is fabulous, really easy to get around once you get the hang of it. But avoid rush hour!!!!!!! Dont carry a large bag or purse, there’s no room.

    If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know.


    • June 24, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      @Mariellen Ward,

      I’ve heard about the food halls in the departments stores, which sounds like a great way to pick up a quick meal. And I LOVE noodle houses. It sounds like there are plenty of options, even though I’m not a sushi fan.

  6. June 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi MJ,

    How cool that you are going to Tokyo with Andy. Very smart of ANA to sponsor a trip like this with such well connected travel bloggers.

    What a trip!

    • June 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      We’re very excited Nancy. The non-stop route from Seattle-Tokyo is a great thing. Add in the Dreamliner and it’s a wonderful thing. Looking forward to checking it out.

  7. June 26, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    i am so excited for you and andy, MJ!!! i lived in tokyo years ago and LOVED it. yes on the yakitori stalls, and the noodle restaurants. OH MY. and definitely visit harajuku – it’s a wonderful experience! i agree with the comments on the trains and small bags (and not during rush hour). head to the bookstores – they are an incredible experience. can’t wait to read of your journeys!

    • June 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Oooooh, didn’t know you lived there. I’ll be making a list of questions and sending them your way.

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