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  • Writer's pictureRuss Tierney

Travelling from Manchester to Tokyo, Japan!

Updated: Oct 21, 2023




Manchester, UK - Haneda, Tokyo, Japan.


A beautiful day at Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport

This story starts at 2.30am to be precise(ish)! We had a flight at 7am (I think it was), from Manchester. Online it said we had to be there 3 hours prior despite it being a domestic flight to Heathrow, as typically domestic flights you only need to be there an hour before.. so I was told. To the detriment of our sleep and sanity, that was the case when we arrived, so cue standing around for two hours. Throw in to the mix that I'm a night owl, so I didn't bother going to sleep as I figured this would bode well for sleeping on the plane and adjusting to Japan time, and at the point of take off, I'm probably running on about a 21-hour day. As I've mentioned in the Japan blogs previous, this is my first time on a plane in about 20 years. Despite what that may suggest, I don't fear flying in any way, I actually find it kinda fascinating, so it was no big deal and my only real concern was very much on hoping our luggage arrives in Japan after a change in London and the formalities of feeling like a naughty school boy from doing nothing while going through security.


Our first journey was about 45 mins (if that), and we'd barely taken off before we were told we were over Birmingham. We were subjected to all the usual H&S things, like life jackets in case we crashed in to a particularly big fountain or something.. in fairness, you can't rule out an emergency landing in the Thames, Hudson river stylie, I guess. Thankfully that didn't happen, and we were already aware that we didn't need to go through the formalities again when at Heathrow, so we could just walk straight to the gates past any security. Our lay over here was about 5 hours. A long old slog, making the flight to Japan being on about a 27-hour day for me.



For a long haul flight, I figured in this day and age we could plug in phones, and we'd at least have Wi-Fi, so it would feel less of a ball ache than back in the day when technology was more primitive. The last time I was on a plane was to Florida, and that seemed like a long flight at 8 hours, but that was via Virgin and you had movies and a Nintendo console, this one would be 14 hours, and we were flying BA.. whatever that would mean!? I knew for a fact that I wasn't looking forward to my ears popping as I suffer chronically from ear ache when such things happen, and I wasn't looking forward to sleeping as I typically don't sleep well in public, hence trying to be extra tired. I duno what they do to cabin pressure these days, but my ears didn't come close to popping on any of the flights, which was sweet relief! The in-flight entertainment, however, hasn't really been bettered in 20 years. Luckily, I had a window seat and no-one next to me, and you can say what you like about the UK, aka it's drab, grey and a bit of a shithole from eye level, but from above, it looks beautiful!



Anyways, it turns out that you can get Wi-Fi, but you have to pay for it - I did curiously try to find out how much, but at no point would it work, it just stated that it's not available at this point in the journey yet.. because of the take-off, right? No, throughout the duration it told me that. The games console was retro, like proper retro back past the NES with only a few modern things like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.. it got boring quickly. The headphone socket didn't click the jack in to place, so you have to fanny around to get stereo and not breathe next to it too much, but on the plus side there were some decent movies. I fell asleep during the second one, and then woke up thinking a good chunk of the journey must be over, only to find out there were 10 hours left. 14 hours is brutal, the novelty wears off after the first movie, the lack of leg space and such isn't fun, but flying over the mountains of Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan offered some stunning rock formations from above, and I quite enjoyed the food!

Landing in Japan!



We did our QR codes prior to leaving for Japan in terms of customs declarations etc, basically this means you don't have to fill in forms on arrival as you've already done it well in advance, you just scan the codes via machines when at the airport. The longest part of getting through security on the Japan side was waiting to filter through the queue.. obviously, I guess, but I mean it as a nod to it being a pretty easy and a stress-free process. Our bags were and already off the conveyor and waiting for us too! Now this is where the real Japan begins, and we deal with language barriers to a degree. When you're not familiar with, well, anything in a new place and it having a different set of customs, then everything is ten times more confusing as you naturally put pressure on your self to understand what's going on while living it. Plus of course you know all the rumours well in advance of how on time and strict everything is supposed to be and how you'll be hated for having tattoos and all that, so you're just trying to get a read on stuff.. which is hard when it's all in hiragana, katakana and kanji! In fairness, there's plenty of Romanji and English too, but that doesn't help with stuff not being intuitive from a different culture. Either way, we managed to pick up our JR passes and Suica card after asking at the tourist office. Most people speak enough English in the airport to get by and help out, so it was just my SIM card that took a little finding, and then too understanding the trains to head to our hotel. Japan, day 1 blog coming next! We'll address those rumours and pick it up from the airport, heading to the hotel!


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