Japan travelogue

Start traveling

After the article I wrote about getting a visa, now I will write how to start the trip and travel to Japan.

Immediately after receiving the visa, I started exploring and researching to buy tickets.

I often do Iranian flights with Mahan and I have Silver category in its customer list (Mahan&Miles).

Buy tickets

After seeing the exorbitant prices of direct flights, for example, it was around 20 million tomans for Lufthansa and 14 million tomans for Qatar Airways, I had no choice but to look for alternatives. Eventually, I found options with Aeroflot Russia and Turkish Airlines for about 9 million tomans. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a layover in Moscow and even considered visiting Russia, as I had heard that Iran and Russia had waived visa requirements. However, I visited the embassy’s website and found out that this news wasn’t accurate and that I would need to obtain a visa. The visa fees were $80 for a one-week regular visa and $160 for a 2-day expedited visa, which discouraged me.

Finally, I decided to go with Turkish Airlines. After comparing various websites, I didn’t find much difference between the Turkish Airlines website and Iranian websites. Therefore, I chose to purchase the ticket directly from Turkish Airlines. Later, when I went to collect the original ticket, I noticed that the Turkish Airlines office didn’t provide any support to those who had purchased tickets from miscellaneous websites or agencies, and they redirected them to the agencies.

In the ticket reservation section, there is an option that displays several days in the form of a matrix or table, indicating the intersection of rows and columns with specific prices. This means that if you don’t have any urgency or limitations, you can find the cheapest ticket by looking at this table and selecting different days. In short, after navigating through the website, I reached a price of 6,800,000 tomans and examined flights from Imam Khomeini Airport to Narita Airport for almost 6 months. I noticed that there were no prices lower than this for different days, seasons, and weeks. I purchased the ticket instantly at a higher price and downloaded the ticket online.

Finding a travel companion

One of my friends, who had noticed my plan, expressed his desire to accompany me and told me to go together, since I had bought the ticket, I quickly got his documents and handed them over to the embassy, and Alhamdulillah, his visa came in 4 days. And we traveled together. Having a travel companion has its own advantages and disadvantages, but in general, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages, in short, because a month had passed since my purchase, the prices had changed a lot and it was about 11 million tomans, after a lot of searching and checking on different days, I was finally successful. We decided to buy a ticket for them on the same flight with the amount of 9,500,000 Tomans and the journey began…

Airport transit

In air travel that has an airport transit, if the transit time is long, airlines usually use different methods such as: allocating a free hotel, meal, etc. They welcome passengers.

Our transit in Istanbul was 18 hours and Turkish Airlines had given us a free one-day tour of Esanbul as a gift.
To receive this tour, we had to choose one of the available options after arriving at the Istanbul airport and stamping the exit by referring to the Turkish tour and hotel reservation desk.
We had already made a lot of plans for this issue, and we were happy that in addition to not wasting our time at the airport, we also have free breakfast and lunch.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, through a message on the Turkish Airlines application and receiving an email, we found out that Turkey has unveiled its new, luxurious and very large airport called Istanbul Airport and will end all international flights at Atatürk Airport on April 6. And it will start working at the new airport from 2 pm on the same day. And for this reason, Turistanbul will not be held until April 13.

The start of the journey

Finally, the journey began and we left Tehran for Istanbul from Imam Khomeini Airport.
It is important to mention one thing about foreign flights, you can check-in online a few hours before the flight, through the website or application of that flight, and while choosing a seat, you can also receive a digital flight card.

This option is very useful in crowded flights. Because when the gate opens, there is usually a crowd and long queues, and at this time, people who have First Class tickets or customer club cards in the second class and above, as well as people who checked in online, can go without waiting in line for baggage delivery and Get the flight ticket.

The departure was at 5:30 and it took about 3 hours and landed at 7:15 Turkish time at Istanbul’s new airport. The airport was so big that the plane was still taxiing after landing until it reached the exit gate.

Images of Istanbul's new airport

Top view of Istanbul New Airport

After leaving the plane, we did not go to the international transit route and because Iranians do not need a visa to enter Turkey, we went directly to the passport control and while leaving the air border, we entered the city of Esanbul.
After a short tour and checking of the new airport and its facilities and spaces, we went to the reservation desk of Turkish Airlines and asked again about the Istanbul tour, they gave us the same answer that we knew.
So we went to the exit door to board the bus.

Buy an Esanbol card for 6 liras and charge it for 2 people and 18 liras each to Taksim Square.
These buses were luxurious, with monitors in front of every seat and also free internet, and they took us to Taksim Esanbul Square in about 1 hour.

Istanbul tour

In spite of the heavy rain that was coming, with sightseeing in Esanbul and boarding small pleasure boats, visiting the beautiful Bosphorus strait and having lunch, etc. We spent these few hours and at night we returned to the new Istanbul airport with the same buses.

Important note: these buses are available 24 hours a day and there is no need to worry about them being closed at night.
اتوبوسهای فرودگاه استانبول
Istanbul airport buses

Flight to Tokyo

هواپیمایی ترکیش به توکیو

Upon arriving back at Istanbul Airport, we headed towards the international departure flights. After getting the exit stamp from Turkey, we entered the transit lounge and prepared to board the plane. The Istanbul to Tokyo flight was on a larger and more equipped Boeing 777 compared to the Tehran to Istanbul flight.

On this 12-hour flight, we were served two meals and offered two rounds of beverages. Similar to Qatar and Emirates airlines, there were personal monitors in front of each seat for watching live TV, movies, playing computer games, and making internal phone calls between cabin seats and internationally.

Additionally, you could also use the onboard WiFi service, with some of it being complimentary, while the rest had to be purchased on an hourly basis. In international flights, each passenger is usually provided with a small pillow, a blanket, and a personal kit containing items such as socks, a toothbrush, earplugs, an eye mask, headphones, etc., which are useful during long flights.

A few hours before landing, similar to Thailand flights, they distribute special customs and immigration forms for Japan to passengers so they can fill them out patiently and in their spare time, avoiding delays at Tokyo Airport.

The flight took off at 1:40 Istanbul time and concluded at 19:10 Tokyo time upon reaching Japan.

Since we were flying in the direction of the sunrise, even though it hadn’t been many hours into the flight, it turned into noon, and the sunlight became visible around the airplane.

نمای داخا پرواز ترکیش استانبول به توکیو

Narita Airport

The airport I bought a ticket for was Narita Airport in Japan. After leaving the plane, we went to Immigration for passport control.
There they took the forms from us and put a special label for entering Japan in our passport (instead of a stamp).
An interesting point was that for the entry and exit of the Japanese, there were devices to control the passport and register the entry and exit, which was a product of the Panasonic company and was done without any human intervention.

After leaving the inbound flights section, we reached the main part of the airport, which was Terminal 1 of Narita Airport. Narita Airport consists of 3 terminals and in each terminal, in addition to all kinds of maps, brochures, books and catalogs, there are information kiosks, as well as touch monitors and special information counters.

فرودگاه ناریتا ژاپن
Tourist guide brochures and magazines at Narita Airport

car rental

I had rented a car from the famous Budget company, and it was written in my watcher that after arriving at the airport, because there is no representative of this company at the airport, we should call the number that he gave to report that we are looking for him.

Since I didn’t have a SIM card, I went to one of the airport information counters and showed the watcher sheet, the lady who was there told us the same things after bowing and apologizing, and the company called and coordinated and told us to go to the fourth floor. And stand in front of one of the exits to follow us from the company. Exactly 15 minutes after we were told, a big station with the name and logo of the same company followed us.

شرکت اجاره خودرو بودجت در توکیو ژاپن
Budget car rental company

In Japan, the streets are the opposite and the steering wheel is on the right, just like Thailand and England.
Fortunately, since I have experience with owning a car and also driving in Thailand, I had no problem with this.
After handing over the documents and presenting the car watcher, we realized that despite the inclusion of the name of the country of Japan in the middle of the international licenses, unfortunately, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been out of the convention for some time and these licenses are not valid for driving in Japan.

Practically, no Iranian tourist can drive in Japan, and only Iranians residing in Japan can drive in that country on the condition of obtaining a Japanese license.
Unfortunately, the only stopping factor was the license. By the way, I had the Thai license with me, but it had expired and that didn’t help either.
Finally, they returned us to the airport with the utmost respect.
Now the itinerary changed a little and almost all our equations were messed up. Because we thought we would have a car, we didn’t book the hotel so that we could get cheap quality hotels in the outskirts of the city (the reason has already been mentioned in the article on traveling to Europe with a private car).

Return to the airport

After returning to the airport, we got a little lost, we started looking for a hotel through the booking application, and on the other hand, we were checking how to go from the airport to the center of Tokyo.
During this time, the airport limousine bus counter was closed and I thought they were changing shifts, unaware that they were really closed.

لیموزین های فرودگاه توکیو
Tokyo Narita Airport Limousines
لیموزین های فرودگاه ناریتا

I told my friend to go to the train! We went to the train station located at Narita Airport and encountered a huge organization of railway lines and companies.
Finding a hotel on the one hand and buying train and subway tickets suitable for that hotel on the other hand is not an easy task for someone who has come to Japan for the first time and has no knowledge of the conditions there.

Narita Airport Subway Station, Japan
ایستگاه مترو فرودگاه ناریتا ژاپن

On the other hand, when the car was canceled, I said to visit the multi-day ticket office that is for tourists, these tickets are sold in most countries under the name Pass, which is very common especially in Europe. In Japan, it is used to travel between different cities by train. They can be used between cities and metro and city buses. And in Europe, for example, they include 1, 2, 3 or more countries and their price depends on the number of days and the number of countries.

These tickets are often a suitable option for tourists, for example, if you choose the whole of Europe and 7 days, you can use all European rail and bus facilities without restrictions for 7 days from the time you started your first trip. In fact, If you spend all your time on the train and subway and constantly go from one country to another, no one has anything to do with you.

For more information, you can refer to the following links:

Buy tickets to Tokyo

Finally, we went to the Beit sales office and unfortunately that office was only open during office hours and we could not get an answer.
Inevitably, we went to buy a train ticket, but no matter what we looked for, we couldn’t find it.
Actually, I was involved in finding a hotel that is close to the city center and the sightseeing places of Tokyo, as well as being able to buy a ticket to go there from the airport, and it took some time to arrange all of these together. For this reason, unfortunately, the train ticket office was also closed and the attendant pointed out that you should get the ticket from the machine.

دستگاه اتوماتیک خرید بلیط فرودگاه ناریتا توکیو - ژاپن
Mechanized metro and train ticket vending machines

Ticket machines

Above the devices, there is a map of the stations, which is rarely written in English, and under each station there are 2 numbers, for example, 140 is written and a little below that, 70 is written, which we later found out is the price for adults and children. This price is the further away from the starting station. It will increase and in fact you have to calculate the amount from the origin to the destination and then buy the ticket from the machine. In fact, the numbers written on the machine are a short cut to the final amount for ease of purchase, which was very confusing for us at the beginning.

دستگاه فروش بلیط
Ticket vending machine
مبالغ پیش فرض خرید بلیط
Default ticket purchase amounts

There’s no need to worry. Fortunately, the machines are multilingual, and after switching to English, I saw that it has options for origin and destination, allowing for station search. For example, for the Shumida station, after typing “S,” only the options starting with “S” were filtered, and by typing a few letters, the desired station would appear, and we could select the number from the buttons on the left side, and the fare would be displayed.

The machine has the capability to accept banknotes, coins, and credit cards, and after payment, it delivers the ticket.

بلیط مترو Uneo خطوط Toei
Toei Lines Uneo Subway Ticket

Use of tickets

You insert the ticket into the machine when you enter the gate, and in a fraction of a second, you receive it at the end of the gate, and there is a hole in it.

Notice :

You must take this ticket with you to your destination so that you can hand it to the machine when you leave so that the door opens and you can get out. Of course, if there is no problem and the amount of the route is correct, the machine will take the ticket at the destination and open the door and not deliver it to you.

گیت های ورودی مترو
Metro entrance gates

Move to Tokyo

قطار ناریتا به توکیو
Narita to Tokyo train

Finally, we booked a hotel in Tokyo called Coco Stay in Nishi-Kaugoshi neighborhood.

coco stay hotel
Coco Stay Hotel in Tokyo, Japan
هتل coco stay در توکیو ژاپن

The hotel was very clean, beautiful and equipped. Unlike other hotels, the check-out time was 11.
Due to this lack of information, we had to pay a fine of 2 thousand yen for 1 hour delay for 2 passengers.
In addition to cable TV, there was also a refrigerator and an electric kettle in the hotel room. In addition, on the third floor of the hotel, there is a shared space including 2 open kitchens and 2 massage chairs, an interesting library, chairs, hanging beds, etc. Was .
On the 6th floor, there was a set of women’s toilets and bathrooms, and on the 2nd floor, there was the same set for men, where there was also a jacuzzi-like pool.

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