Traveling to Japan and staying at the New Sanno DoD hotel
Low Cost Airlines to Japan
Have you been to Japan yet? We recently did a trip to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo and stayed at both AirBNB's and the New Sanno DoD hotel so I wanted to share some things to consider while booking travel. Japan is a very affordable trip with low cost flight deals, reasonable prices for accommodations, and some of the best quality of food we've ever had.
Airfare from Honolulu to Japan is becoming very competitive and prices are going down. Hawaii tourism is growing steadily and we are up to 9 million visitors a year. Asian visitors fly low cost airlines other than United or Hawaiian Air to Honolulu. So here are some of the low cost airlines options and ways to book travel.
Flyscoot Airlines has some killer deals from Honolulu to Osaka and if you sign up on their site for fare watch you put in dates of travel and they will send you price watch deals below $400 on some dates. I saw the Flyscoot plane while in Narita Airport. It is a brand new 787 Dreamliner that looks very nice.
Air Asia is also a low cost airline to Osaka. They also have flights under $400 RT from Honolulu to Osaka. They are a direct competitor with Flyscoot.
GOOGLE flights is also one of my favorites to help in your research of airfares. It provides you a price graph and shows you which day of the month has the cheapest fares. It also shows you the most airlines vice Kayak.com. I use it to research all my flights then I go book it directly with the airline.
If you want to Hop to Yokoto Air Base from Hickam, on average there is one flight a month. I assume they are hard to get on and you might have better luck flying from Travis AB in Sacramento. With the low cost Airlines it seems like a much better option to be guaranteed a seat.
HISgo Hawaii is a Japan travel agency in Hawaii. They can book your flights with any airline, purchase train tickets, and they have lots of tours you can book and you can ask them a thousand questions. HISgo also has pocket WIFI (hotspot) you can rent for $4 a day for two weeks. We got the unlimited plan, around $60, for our entire 11 day trip and picked it up at one of the 4 offices in Honolulu. Upon return they provide you a self addressed stamped envelope that you drop in the Japan mail before you fly. If you book a flight through HISgo they give you 50% off the pocket WiFi rental. What a deal!
I also recommend you book all flights directly with the airline.
If you book a flight through a second party site, it is much harder to change it after it's prepaid. If you book it directly with the airline they will assist you when you must change your plans or change seats.
New Sanno Hotel in Hiro'o Tokyo
We took the 2.5 hour train from Osaka to Tokyo and stayed at the New Sanno DoD hotel in Tokyo. It's been almost 20 years since we stayed there, before we were married, so we were excited to return and relive all our memories of that place.
We couldn't get into a room that was big enough for our whole family, because it was sold out several months in advance, so they put us in a traditional Tatami room, where you sleep on the Japanese futon on the floor. They prepare the beds every night for you. I guess I'm getting old but it's hard sleeping on the floor, so I asked them to double up the futon to make it softer but it was still hard. I should have kept the two separate rooms with real beds!
Also after staying in wonderful AirBNB's in Osaka, that are modern, cheaper, and better location in the city, the New Sanno was somewhat disappointing.
The location of the New Sanno is a little far from the major points of interest and the walk to the subway (7 min) sounds short but is a little longer at the end of the day than I thought. When you are walking 10 miles a day and back and forth to the hotel...our family got lazy. For the same price, we could have stayed at a modern AirBNB closer to a subway, and Shinjuku for $110 a night. However, I must say the New Sanno is located in Hiro'o town which is a nice area that is quaint and quite.
The New Sanno also has bus transportation you can reserve to Narita airport but it stops and picks up a lot of other folks along the way so it's about an hour one way on the bus, but it's easy because you don't have to go far with your bags to board the bus. We made reservations with a 2 day advance notice with no problem.
The New Sanno also has tours that pick you up the hotel. This is a wise option if you don't like going up and down the stairs and taking the crowded subway. The bus tours take you directly to the site and drop you off. The only problem is by the time we arrived the only tours we were interested in were sold out so we needed to book well in advance. The New Sanno has a helpful concierge desk next to check in, who can make calls for you and book any tours. They can also book other events for you so you don't have to try to figure out how to call and find someone who speaks English. They can do all of your arrangements for you. For AirBNB we would just message the host who told us where to eat, how to use the laundry machine, etc.
The food quality in Japan is really really high and they put a lot of effort into presentation. Unfortunately the American food at the New Sanno was in no comparison. I preferred hands down to eat right outside the hotel in Hiro'o. In fact we found a small Italian restaurant, Pietre Preziose, in which I received a bottle of water, a plate of pasta, salad and, coffee for $12USD. If I wanted a snack I could even pop down to 7-11 to get a deliciously fresh salad for under $4USD.
Japan is a great cultural experience, it's very clean, people are considerate, the safest place I've ever been to, but most of all it's affordable, beautiful and a food lovers delight.