Japan culture and Japan itself is my go to place when it comes to Asian countries. A country deep in history, it also enjoys the climate one would truly appreciate when it comes to experiencing the four seasons of the year. Japanese people are respectful and their traditions remain deep in honor and accountability in spite of the rapid changing technology and generation gaps in this ultra-fast paced century.
The lockdown years were frustrating for those who enjoy traveling. And traveling is what my mom even at the age of 85 and wheelchair bound, enjoys. In spite of the physical and emotional challenges in life, traveling and relaxation makes her difficult life easier to get by.
The post-lockdown travel is a challenge – not only to those who are able-bodied but more so, to the physically handicapped.
Current travel requirements to Japan include full vaccination and ONE booster. Nope, Sputnik vaccines do not count. And if you only have a full vaccination or your full vaccination was a Sputnik vaccine and you had ONE booster of any other COVID vaccine brand, that didn’t count either. What to do? Get an RT-PCR, 72 hours before your flight. Validity for that PCR test is 72 hours prior to your designated flight.
You will need to fill up your travel details on this website https://www.vjw.digital.go.jp/main/#/vjwplo001 and upload the quarantine requirements (vaccine certificates), obtain an immigration QR code, and obtain a customs QR code as well.
When your digital requirements are fulfilled, you should be able to get all these within less than 12 hours. The immigration and customs QR code are almost immediate. Don’t forget to take a photo shot of your QR codes and save to your photo gallery, just in case you don’t get a wifi signal or you’re too stingy to go for data roaming on your mobile phone.
The long Holy Week and holidays contributed to the exodus of Filipinos from the city. The airport was crowded and the immigration line was bad. Everyone wanted to be part of the “priority” (senior citizens and PWD lane) with the kids, teenagers and everyone else in their traveling party in tow. Discipline isn’t really part of the DNA of the Filipino.
Even boarding was mayhem in Manila. When the ground crew began to announce that boarding for children would commence – the rush to the gate was like all hell had broken loose. It’s like – didn’t you get a seat assignment?
The four and a half hour travel to Japan on ANA was smooth. Food was served promptly. But the choices on the Manila to Haneda leg wasn’t really great. You’d think that paying for business class you get you more than just slippers and a heavy blanket – but more decent choices as well. The over-all cabin crew service, however, was superb and made up for what was basically lacking in the business class food service.
Did I mention the cabin crew? Yes I did and this cabin crew really did a great job in attending to my mom, in spite of the 3/4 full business class flight. And here’s the icing on the cake…
Upon arrival in Haneda, we would need to use a bus gate. That would mean stairs! Fifteen minutes before the arrival into Haneda, the chief purser had informed me of this. We were instructed that when we arrive and all the passengers have deplaned, there would be a special arrangement for my mom who would be hauled by traction down through the door on the right side of the plane where the special bus would connect us to a vehicle that would attach to the “cargo” and take us straight into the gate near the immigration area.
I was literally blown away with the service of ANA and the crew at the Haneda International Airport. Two staff were with us from the time she was shuffled from the plane into her own wheelchair, to the queue at immigration (in the priority lane), until we got our baggages, till we met our chauffeur at the arrival area.
Great job ANA and domo-arigato (どうもありがとう) to team ANA!
[On a side note, the average duration from arrival to exit took the other members of our party 2 hours to queue in Haneda. So many tourists arriving that same evening! In spite of the fact that we waited till the whole plane was emptied of passengers before we could deplane, and took our ‘private’ transfers from the bus gate to immigration, we were finished within an hour after our arrival into Haneda. The Japanese immigration was not spared from the stampede of tourist arrivals. All those who had kids in tow (even if they were not with children less than 2 years old or who did not require strollers or assistance) were on the same ‘priority’ lane as the elderly and disabled. The woman triaging the passengers was completely overwhelmed at the multitude of arrivals that compounded with the language barrier, there was nothing much she could do.]
Nice to see you traveling again, Doc. In style!
More nice to see your mom with you.
Enjoy. Awaiting your posts and photo.