When you walk out into the cool spring-ish weather at the start of a beautiful evening and begin to involuntarily shiver, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.
PAL’s flight to Kansai lands in the early evening, so you’ll find yourself heading out of Kansai International at around 730ish.
And to be fair, Kansai International Airport is huge and purdy. Real damn purdy. Like all of those better-than-us airports, they’ve got a train connects the gates to the Arrival section of the airport. Immigration could not be smoother and baggage claim is a solemn and organized breeze. This is the first time I’m giving points to the magic creatures that put the bags on the belts, they’re almost of equal distance and all lovingly arranged. It’s as if, someone wanted to play suitcase dominoes. 5 points to Gryffindor. And finally, money changing was such an efficient 3-stage process that takes you through 3-lines and 2-Japanese guys until you finally get hold of your crispy Japanese yen. My first taste of Japanese quirkiness and I’m loving it.
Regarding the public transportation taking you to different parts of the city, and neighboring Osaka – they make it easy, even for the Japanese public transport system virgin, tolerable to understand.
As for us, the members of our party, all 70-something of us, were all congregating at the Arrivals section. It was an exhausting site to see so many people on this one trip. And after our first travel agency coordination hiccup, we finally roll our eyes away as we board our first bus going to our first hotel of the week, Bellevue Garden Hotel Kansai.
Oh and Kansai International has AWESOME WIFI!
- Right across a pretty big supermarket
- Is a 4-star hotel
- 10-15 minutes direct bus transfer from the airport
- Dinner and breakfast weren’t “spectacular” – and this is a pretty much consensus with everybody
- They don’t have WiFi in the rooms but they do have a WiFi Station down at the lobby where it costs about 100 yen for 10 minutes. Be careful of the keyboards that turn into Kanji with the push of a stray button- somewhere.
- They also have a few vendo machines, along with the only cup noodle vendo machine I’ve ever seen on this trip (I did expect to see this machine again in the week that followed, but alas, it was not meant to be)
- The hotel also has its own shuttle bus coming in from the airport that leaves the airport as early as 10am and as late as 1030pm. On the other side their shuttles to the airport starts at 630am and the last one out of the hotel is at 6pm. Seats on the hotel shuttle are only via reservation though.
- The room is huge by Japanese hotel standards, but then again, we were practically charged $300 for this room (via published rates estimates, not including the discount the agency most likely got for the trip).
- It marked our first run in with Japan’s ever-so common, the super toilet.
- Toiletry items were from Shisheido – I have never wished that I had a giant empty plastic bottle until that day.
- We basically got 2 singles and 1 converted sofa bed
All in all, the food was the only thing we were able to experience and we all agreed that it wasn’t stellar- the dinner OR the breakfast. But you know what makes up for all of it? A wonderful panoramic view of Kansai in the morning. Seeing those traditional Japanese rooftops that I’ve only ever seen in animes was a nice tickle to my this-is-actually-happening bone. This is the land of Hayao Miyazaki, the 2007 Miss Universe, Maskman, Bioman, Dragonball, Maria Ozawa (not that I am a fan – I DID work for a men’s magazine #bakitkadefensive) and Hello Kitty. Yet, the first thing I notice in the Kansai skyline is a faint image of a familiar Yoshinoya.
Anyway, Kansai Japan, check!