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Japan 2020 - The Idiot Returns

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
Hark back to February 2019 and I was a bit down about my old boss, and good mate of 17 years, retiring. The adjustment to a new Head of Department, who I must add has been fantastic, was taking it's toll and I needed something to drag me out of my funk. ANA was advertising their new direct Perth - Narita service, so I jumped on board. Premium economy for around $1900, just had to get through 11 months of work. Little side trip to Melbourne and 2 weeks in the US in the interim helped out.

The boss cracked the shits yesterday as the suitcase came out, stayed in the backyard all day, only came inside when it was bed time. Double jeopardy for her today, didn't let her inside as I was doing a final clean for my house sitter to come in to and the dog is shedding hair like you wouldn't believe. Took her for an early morning run and of course being a Border Collie/Kelpie X, that wasn't enough.


Bit of play action

Ready to go again


Dropped her off to the beach house and her Kelpie friend, she was happy as larry, so think we're mates again.

Uber to the airport, quick check in, pretty easy through Border Control and security. ANA use Air New`Zealand's lounge. Very small, but very clean and comfortable.


Very nice Beef Rendang, trifle and something else


About an hour until departure so until the next post, sayonara.

Black Duck

Junior Member
Aug 20, 2011
Looking forward to your report. I am thinking of that route this year so interested to see what you think of ANA and its PE.


Oct 15, 2009
I will be in Japan in May 2020 after two trips in 2019. I am always looking for new places to visit in Japan and will be interested in your TR.

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
Returned home last night after 2 and a bit weeks. Premium economy is in a small cabin, 2 rows of 7 in 2-3-2. I had an aisle seat at the bulkhead, and easily able to stretch my legs fully (I am vertically challenged though). Slippers and headphones on the seat, attendant came with a tray and offered amenities prior to take-off. Drinks and then dinner were served, had the chicken with mushroom gravy, very nice. Came with 2 small side dishes, bread roll, cheese and crackers, bottle of water. Not a fish fan, there was some smoked salmon in one of the side dishes, had a crack and what do you know,I'm a fan. Probably wont be having a go at cod roe or squid intestines right at this time, but small steps. Watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, then listened to music off my phone for the rest of the flight. Couple of small naps, crew very regular offering drinks throughout the flight. 2 hours prior to touchdown a light snack of sliced apple, yoghurt and a chicken and sun-dried tomato roll. Quickly through immigration, bags out quickly and straight through customs.

My second trip to Japan, 4 years between drinks. My first trip I came equipped with 1 word of Japanese and I was determined to be a lot better prepared this time around. This occasion, I had around 20 phrases/words in my armoury. For research found a you tube site 'Currently Hannah', Aussie girl that worked in Japan and one of her videos was ten common Japanese phrases which I took on board and learned, then added to by picking up a few more from various other places. For research on food and places to go, again referred to You Tube - Mikey Chen or Strictly Dumpling for food; Paolo From Tokyo,food, places to visit, he also has an interesting series on Days in the Life of different Japanese occupations; and my favourite 'Abroad in Japan', English bloke lived in Japan for about 6 years, very interesting videos. His Japanese friend, Natsuke, is an absolute one of a kind. Also has a podcast 'Abroad in Japan', which i have become addicted to in recent weeks.

To the trip, picked up my mobile sim, given a packet of Pocky when i picked it up, always happy with that. Off to find the shower room, bit of a search but eventually got there. 1100 yen, around $15 for a much needed shower, able to change into long pants and jacket. Bottle of water thrown in as well. Back down the escalator to the train lines, checked my fitbit for the time, what do you know, had left it in the shower room. Back to the shower room, as I walked in, cleaning lady was bringing it to the front desk. Profuse arigato gazaimasu's, and again was on my way.

No one in the JR office other than staff, able to activate my JR pass, then on to the Narita Express. Forgot just how far away Narita is from Shinjuku, a good 80 minutes on the train. Off the train and following signs to find the Oedo Line Shinjuku Station. Signs and google maps weren't much help, thought I had oriented myself and backed myself to walk to the hotel. Took me a week or so to realize I wasn't actually where I thought I was. No harm done though.

South exit, which faces North.


Walking down the street and stumbled upon the station entrance.


2 stops to Nishi-Shinjuku and the APA of the same name.


Not able to check in until 3, able to leave my bags though. Photos of the room, small, but contained a very comfortable bed. Did learn from staying in APA's on my last visit and brought my own pillow. About $115 for the night.



Headed off to Shinjuku and to Ichiran for some ramen for lunch. No subway, decided to walk, stopped at a 711 and grabbed an egg salad sandwich. Sensational, then remembered another quirk of Tokyo in particular, no bins. Learnt from this and for the rest of my time in Japan always carried a plastic bag in my bag for any rubbish I collected on the way.

Got to Ichiran and a bit of a queue, which was expected as it was around midday. Not in the mood for a wait at this stage, so new strategy, get on the Yamanote line and head to Ueno and Ameya-Yokocho and grab something there. Bit of a mistake, extremely crowded.




Didn't last long, back on the train, decided to give Ichiran another go. Only a small queue this time, order through a ticket machine, given an order sheet to customise your order and eventually in you go.


Sensational. Did order an egg, just not in the photo and you only receive a minimal amount of pork.


Black Duck

Junior Member
Aug 20, 2011
Thanks for the information about the flight. Thats very useful as is the rest of your post. I look forward to reading more.

Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
Walked back to the hotel, checked in and had a bit of a nap.
Jumped on the train at Shinjuku for one stop and Shin-Okubu - Koreatown.
Bit of a wander and grabbed some fried chicken for dinner. I did not eat healthily on this trip.
Walked back through Kabukicho



Over the road and into Shinjuku, grabbed a pineapple on a stick in a futile attempt to counter balance the chicken.
Headed west and a quick walk through Omoide Yokocho, or Piss Alley. Quite a few of the izakayas were closed which I thought was a little odd for a Friday night, although it was only about 9 o'clock.



I was hitting the wall and kept walking back to the hotel, not before hitting my nemesis from 4 years prior


Couple of shots, continued on to the hotel and hit the sack.


Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
Early start, on the Odeo Line, off at Daimon Station and a quick transfer to the monorail for the trip to Haneda.
Quick check in for my JAL flight to Sapporo.

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International terminal.


Katsu sando before the flight



About 80 minutes in the air, served a drink, fortunate to have a spare seat next to me.
Bags out quite quickly then on the train to Sapporo Station.
Blue skies, but very cold.

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Sapporo station

Walked to the hotel, a bit further than I would have liked, bit of a struggle at times dragging the case through a the snow on a couple of footpaths that hadn't been cleared. Left my bags and headed of to the tram stop for the trip to Mt Moiwa.


Tram didn't take too long to arrive, tried to get on through the front door, gentleman getting off pointed me to the back door. 210 yen flat rate for a ride, get on the through the back door, pay when you get off through the front door.

10 minute or so walk up to the ropeway station, bit if an uphill battle toward the end. There is a shuttle bus from the tram stop to the station, but I couldn't be arsed waiting for it.

Ropeway waiting room and the strange looking mascot


Change cars at some stage and eventually get to the observation deck and restaurants/toilets


Roads snowed over at the top


Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
There is a subway walk that goes from the station that may have gotten you closer to your destination.
Where were you staying ?
Discovered the walk the next day, to be honest would have still gone the above ground route if i had have known about it. Like to have a look around when i first get to a new destination.

APA Sapporo, little more dated than the Shinjuku version. Double room, would have been squeezy for 2 people though, around $70 a night so good value.



When I checked in at Shinjuku the receptionist handed me a coffee and told me it was a gift. Felt pretty special.
Penny dropped when given same coffee when checking in at Sapporo, I wasn't special. Tasted terrible as well.

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Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010
Alternated between inside and outside, biding time until sunset so I could get a might time shot. Sunset scheduled for 4.10ish, temperature was at -7, little to no wind though. Waterproof boots I purchased on-line were working a treat, feet were warm and dry.

IMG_0037 (2)__1579601084_220.253.166.123.jpg








Hokkaido is known for it's dairy, so had to have an ice cream, no chance of it melting



Noel Mugavin

Active Member
Sep 5, 2010

Not the greatest night shots, bit out of the capabilities of my camera and my ability


By this stage it was still before 5pm and I was coping with the cold quite well - all apart from my fingers. Even with the gloves on and being deep inside my jacket pockets, as well as heading back inside intermittently, the fingers were just not warming up. So time to pull the pin and get down to ground level where it should be a little bit warmer.

Change at the transfer station on the way down, there a gift shop and also an entrance to the ski run on the side of the mountain


This time I took the shuttle bus to the tram stop, short wait for a tram.
Koalas no good, roos all sweet


Off at the entertainment area - Susukino





Went looking for a Genghis Khan restaurant and for quite a bit of time was completely disoriented with google maps. Eventually sorted it out, bit still couldn't find the restaurant. Eventually found a beer hall that offered the dish. Wasn't up for an all you could eat banquet, went for the single serve. Apparently, as I discovered, no vegetables with the single serve.



Wandered some more, grabbed a pork bun and an egg salad sandwich from a 711 then headed to the hotel to check-in, catch up on some emails, then headed to bed

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