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Archive for the ‘Airports’ Category

Photo #7 – Young Gaijin Discovers Japanese Vending Machines

Young gaijin discovers Japanese vending machines at the JR Kansai Airport Train Station.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


For your departure from Kansai International Airport, if you choose to board the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto, you will enter at the overhead crosswalk level seen in Photo #5 and then descend to this platform after buying your ticket just inside the entrance of the JR Kansai Airport Station (Photo #6).

A streamlined bank of vending machines beckons with its glow on the dimly lit train platform, giving you a hint of the Japanese vending machine culture that will be experienced throughout your visit.

Photo Details: This image was snapped through the window of the Haruka Express Train, moments before rolling out of the Kansai Airport Station and onto the bridge that connects the airport’s small man-made island to Honshu, Japan’s main island. I suspect this young man has arrived in Japan for his first journey into the land of readily available vending machines. I’m sure many grand adventures are in store for him.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #6 – Haruka Express Train to Kyoto from Kansai Airport

JR's Kansai Airport Train Station

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Instead of taking the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto, I was considering saving a few hundred yen without sacrificing too much time by taking a slightly cheaper 2 train option that would route me into Shin-Osaka Station first. I was interested in getting my first peek at one of Osaka’s main train stations, since I’m sure I’ll spend some time in Osaka on this trip.

However, the thought of wandering around in a giant train station in Osaka with nearly 200 pounds of luggage in tow was not very appealing. Also, regular trains do not have a place at the end of their cars to stow large luggage items like the Haruka Express has. Ultimately, time was the biggest factor; Immigration held me up with a long line upon arrival in Kansai. I didn’t want to keep my friend Hiro waiting in Kyoto, so it was an easy choice to hop on the convenient Haruka Express Train for a relaxing ride into Kyoto.

At 73 minutes, the travel time from Kansai Airport to Kyoto is similar to the travel time from Narita Airport to Tokyo.

Photo Details: Difficult to miss, the JR terminal is connected to and right across the street from the Kansai International Airport Terminal (KIX). The green machines in this photo and seen on the right as you enter the station can be used to purchase tickets for the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #5 – JR Kansai International Airport Train Station (Osaka)

Osaka's Kansai International Airport (KIX). Looking from the airport terminal across to the adjacent JR train station.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


The JR Kansai Airport Train Station is immediately adjacent to the KIX airport terminal and can be seen here across the road as you exit the terminal.

Osaka’s Kansai Airport is quite a jaunt outside of central Osaka and unfortunately, on the far side from Kyoto. The Haruka Express train takes 73 minutes from this station to the main Kyoto station.

However, Osaka’s city center is relatively close to Kyoto and to get from Kyoto to Osaka only takes about 30 minutes on regular trains.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #4 – Traditional Culture “Experiencing” Zone

"Traditional Culture Experiencing Zone" at Seoul's Incheon Ariport

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Though with a slightly off name (“Experiencing” should probably be “Experience”), the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation provides a few Traditional Culture Experiencing Zone sites for interesting tastes of Korean culture throughout Seoul’s Incheon Airport.

Korean dancheong decorative coloring techniques could be sampled for free in an appealing hands-on environment at the location nearest my connection departure gate for Japan.

I wanted to paint one of these fans myself, probably doing something more abstract and violating the sample fan’s traditional coloring guidelines, but I had nowhere to safely transport such an artifact for the remainder of my journey to Japan. I elected to photograph others enjoying this unexpected opportunity.

Photo Details: This couple from New York provided a great photo opportunity after 7 AM when the staff showed up to open the Experiencing Zone. The airport was still quiet and there was no wait to take a turn at one of the tables. Coincidentally, these guys later sat directly across from me on the flight to Japan. They were visiting a friend in Osaka, but will also be visiting Kyoto (my destination and planned home base) during their vacation.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #3 – Japan Tourist Visas, How 90 Days Means 91 Days

Asiana jet at Incheon - Seoul, Korea's international airport

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Note:
This is an unusually lengthy journal entry primarily dealing with the 90 day vs. 91 day interpretation of the entry restriction for US citizens visiting Japan. You might want to skip along to some more fun entries here on the site unless you are planning to try to stay in Japan at or near the maximum period allowed. :-)

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines had the best price for this 3 month period in which I will be traveling to and from Japan. By the time I booked my flight, the price savings had grown even larger by a few hundred dollars when compared to the ever increasing prices available using US based airlines.

Though I originally acquired a ticket for a trip that would have me return on my 90th day, a change in Asiana’s service had them calling me to move the return date, allowing me to choose to add one more day to my itinerary. This could be a potential problem since I can only be in Japan legally for 90 days according to Japan’s rules. There is quite a bit of confusion about how to interpret exactly what 90 days means. Most people understandably think 90 days means 90 days, but it does not. It actually means 91 days, or parts of 91 days.

The specifics of when you must exit Japan

Even a native Japanese travel agent I have used a few times before in the US and who specializes in selling tickets to gaijin does not know the answer to when one must really be out of Japan. He advises all visitors to leave by their 90th day (within 90 days of arriving). There is also a lot of incorrect noise on this issue being posted on the Internet. People warn of dire consequences if you do not get out within 90 days of your arrival. The truth is you must be out of Japan 90 days from the date of your arrival. You are allowed 91 days on the calendar as a US citizen entering Japan without a visa.

Fortunately, I had one of the newer style Japan entry stickers in my passport from my last trip to Japan, a trip that was for only 2 weeks. The final maximum duration exit date allowed for that entry into the country was clearly marked, and when I did the math I got 91 days (90 days from date of arrival) as the true maximum period allowed in Japan.

I was so confidant that I was safe and correct about the “within 90 days of arrival” vs. “90 days from arrival” issue that I originally planned to book my return for the 91st day. However, to add one more day happened to cause the Asiana ticket price to jump dramatically in this particular instance.

I ended up getting the return date I wanted anyway when Asiana called me later to change my return flight. My original flight was apparently canceled or overbooked; Asiana would not reveal the precise reason they needed to change my return date. I chose to come back a day later instead of a day earlier, and the new itinerary will now cause me to be in Japan the better part of 91 days. I would have lost 2 days in Japan if I had not known that it was indeed 91 days that is allowed for US citizens, because I would have thought I had to choose an earlier instead of later return date when Asiana called to ask me to select a new date.

You can listen to Episode 2 of the podcast, at either SavageJapan.com or SavageSnowPodcast.com, to find out how the math added up on my entry sticker exit date this time around, and to find out if things are looking rosy for me to get out in time to preserve my good standing with the Japanese Immigration Bureau.
Obviously, it is safer to plan on exiting Japan within 90 days, and that is what I would advise others to do and it may be what I do on future long visits to Japan, instead of pushing for the potential maximum 91 days. There could always be unplanned delays getting out of the country, but I couldn’t resist maximizing this first 3 month visit by claiming every minute possible.

For some travelers, a small drawback to flying with Asiana might be a potential long layover at Seoul’s Airport in Incheon, Korea. This flight involved a delay of 4 hours at Incheon.

I have connected at Incheon before and had overnight hotel layovers in neighboring Seoul several times on trips to China using Asiana’s larger competitor, Korean Air. Incheon is one of the more pleasant airports I have passed through, so I didn’t mind spending a few hours there in exchange for the value of a much lower fare to Japan. Incheon has free and fast wireless Internet available throughout the airport (unlike the always pitifully weak and slow free service at Denver’s airport), so I was able to be productive. I also used the time to experiment with making a few calls back to the US using my new paid Skype account that allows calling directly to telephones from a computer. That low cost service from Skype seems to be working out very nicely and should be a great asset to me during this 3 month adventure in Japan.

Of interest to some…
Another benefit to flying with this Korean based airlines, for male persons such as myself, has to do with the seemingly politically incorrect hiring practices of Asian airline companies.

The flight attendants are almost always female, and the girls hired for those positions by most Asian airline companies are often… exceptionally charming. :-)

Photo Details: Early morning at Seoul’s Incheon airport, a Sky Chef employee loads my breakfast onto the plane that will soon carry me to Japan.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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