Thursday, December 1, 2016

🇯🇵 2016 Christmas Special: Post-GCE 'A' Level Examination End-Of-Year Winter Vacation To Tokyo & Hokkaido, Japan, In December 2016 ~ Section 1 🇯🇵

Dear bloggers, may I take this opportunity now to wish all of you a 'Season's Greetings' in advance! Please do forgive me for the lack of trip reports for the past few months as I was rather busy preparing and revising for my GCE 'A' Level examinations at the end of the year. Nevertheless, to help brighten up your spirits for the upcoming end-of-year holiday season, I would like to warmly welcome you to this new end-of-year Christmas special vacation trip report detailing my most recent post-GCE 'A' Level examination end-of-year winter vacation to Tokyo & Hokkaido, Japan, in December 2016.

This new end-of-year Christmas special winter trip report will be divided into a total of seven sections, for which, this will be the first section of the entire report itself. There will be mainly two focus topics, not including the opening sequences, that will be covered in this first segment of the trip report. They will mainly be the in-bound overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita) and the trip to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. While all of the vacation videos featured in this new trip report can also be accessed via my YouTube channel, please kindly note that for safety reasons, it is forbidden to post or leave any comments for any of these YouTube videos on my channel.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After completing my final GCE 'A' Level examination paper for the year, my parents decided to bring us on a two-week long post-examination end-of-year winter vacation to Japan to celebrate the winter season at the end of the year. This holiday would be a well-earned break for the us after putting in whatever potential efforts we could in preparation for our examinations, with my younger brother having completed his GCE 'N' Level examinations earlier in mid-October. Over the next coming weeks, I was quite excited for this particular end-of-year winter trip, as every trip to Japan represents an integral part of me, most particularly to the mainland areas like Tokyo and Osaka, having a strong emotional connection with the country.

On the morning of Wednesday (30 November), which was just a couple of days after completing my final GCE 'A' Level examination paper for the year, I woke up at 8.35 a.m. after having a good night's rest. Since it was still quite early to do anything else, I spent some hours doing some personal surfing on my laptop. I then went to have a shower before lunch time and packed the remainder of my baggage for the trip. I also had to help my dad send his car for maintenance works later that afternoon while we were away in Japan. My parents had pre-also arranged for a MaxiCab to come and transport us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 8.30 p.m. just a few days before the trip in advance.

As for the in-bound overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita), we would be flying directly with Singapore Airlines on flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita), which would depart from Singapore Changi Airport at 11.55 p.m. late that night, and then arrive at Narita International Airport at 7.30 a.m. early the next morning. This particular flight would be one major positive point for the upcoming holiday, given that it would be rather troublesome and time-consuming to have to pass through transit flight security checkpoints and change flights again in another country.

Furthermore, for this trip, we would be spending the first four days in Tokyo, and an additional six days in Hakodate in southern Hokkaido before coming back to Tokyo for the remainder of the trip. My parents had also arranged for a five-star luxury hotel accommodation at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo for the duration of our stays in Tokyo, and at the La Cachette Villa private chalet for our stay in Hakodate. I was indeed even more ecstatic about this since I had enjoyed my first hotel stay at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in December 2014, and that it would be our first time staying in southern Hokkaido.

With the necessary pre-travel errands for the rest of the entire afternoon completed, my housekeeper made some light dinner for both my younger brother and I. Soon enough, I was finally completed with the preparations for my baggage at seven o' clock. With everything necessary for the winter trip packed up, I laid my baggage with the rest of our other baggage in the living room. My housekeeper also ensured that all our rooms on the upper levels were securely locked while we were away.

Later that evening, our pre-arranged MaxiCab to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 finally showed up at the front gate of our house at 8.15 p.m.. The driver, who was a Malay gentleman, got out of his MaxiCab and assisted my parents in loading all of our baggage into the rear MaxiCab boot while we boarded for the evening road trip to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3. Once all of our baggage was safely loaded into the MaxiCab boot, we finally departed the familiar surroundings of our house at 8.20 p.m. for a short late night MaxiCab trip of 25 minutes over the Central & Pan Island Expressways to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Soon enough, we finally arrived outside the departures and drop-off area located at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 8.45 p.m.. While my dad and I went to claim three baggage trolleys, the MaxiCab driver helped to unload our baggage from the rear cab boot before we could load them onto the trolleys. Paying our cab fare, we thanked the MaxiCab driver for all his kind services and promptly proceeded into the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Upon entering the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, we finally arrived at the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in counters at 8.50 p.m.. Proceeding to the nearest open check-in counter, we got out our required travel documents to check in for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita), with all our bulkier baggage to be checked in as well. The entire check-in process for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) took not more than around 10 minutes.

Singapore Airlines (Japanese: シンガポール航空; Chinese: 新加坡航空公司) is the flag carrier and the largest airline of the Republic of Singapore. Having its headquarters at the Airline House in 25 Airline Road, the airline maintains its sole and primary hub at Singapore Changi Airport and flies to a total of 65 destinations across Asia, Africa, North America, Oceania and Europe, using a purely wide-body fleet of Airbus A330s, Airbus A350 XWBs, Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. The airline also plays an integral role as a major competitor on the Kangaroo Route between Australia and the United Kingdom via the Eastern Hemisphere.

The airline was established just two years after the end of World War II on 1 May 1947 as Malayan Airways, until it was divided into Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines respectively in 1972. As the airline progressed through its development, it took delivery of the first Airbus A380 from 15 October 2007, flying the world's first commercial Airbus A380 flight between Singapore and Sydney on 25 October 2007. Singapore Airlines is one of the nine airlines in the world to be given five-star rating by Skytrax, having won the 'Airline of the Year' award in 2004, 2007 and 2008. It also operated two of the world's longest non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and Newark using a fleet of five Airbus A340-500s from 2004 and 2013. These non-stop services ended in November 2013 following the withdrawal of its Airbus A340-500s.

However, the airline resumed non-stop services to the United States from 23 October 2016, with a daily direct flight between Singapore and San Francisco using its Airbus A350 XWBs. The airline is expected to commence more non-stop flights to the United States from fiscal 2018 with the continuing delivery of its Airbus A350 XWBs. Singapore Airlines has been a pure member of Star Alliance since 1 April 2000, also maintaining mutual codeshare agreements with most fellow Star Alliance carriers, with its frequent-flyer program being known as KrisFlyer.


The departures and drop-off point located outside Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly after we had arrived

Overlooking Terminal 2 from the departures and drop-off point at Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport at night

Finally entering the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at night

The interior view of the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at night

Finally arriving at the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in counters in the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at night

Overlooking the Pokémon and gingerbread house area from the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in counters in the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at night

After completing the check-in process for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) at the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in counters in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, we finally received our boarding passes at nine o' clock. The check-in agent then informed us that tonight, Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would depart at 11.55 p.m. from Gate No. A4. Boarding would commence at 11.25 p.m., approximately half an hour before the scheduled departure timing.

With that, we thanked the check-in agent for her kind and warm services and headed over to the send-off point with our belongings. Reaching the send-off point, we had our boarding passes and passports examined by the airport security officers before we could head to the passport control points. Heading over to the automated thumbprint checkpoints, we managed to clear the passport control points very successfully before entering the main airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 9.05 p.m..

Given that we had plenty of time left before Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita), we decided to proceed up to the Silver Kris Lounge for some light late night refreshments first. With that, we walked across the airside close to Concourse A and changed to an elevator to the airline lounge level to find the Silver Kris Lounge. The entire walk linking from the passport control area to the Silver Kris Lounge took not more than approximately five minutes.

My boarding pass for the in-bound segment from Singapore to Tokyo (Narita)

Bypassing the Pokémon and gingerbread house area on route to the passport control points in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The interior view of the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly before we headed into the main airside

Finally inside the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Bypassing some duty-free shops on route to the Silver Kris Lounge in the main airside near Concourse A in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The departure flight information screens in the airline lounge level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Walking across the airline lounge level on route to the Silver Kris Lounge in the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Bypassing a smoking area on route to the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airline lounge level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airline lounge level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

After walking across the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 for not more than approximately five minutes, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Silver Kris Lounge at 9.10 p.m.. Proceeding to the lounge reception counter, a female lounge receptionist checked all our boarding passes before allowing us to enter. Positively identifying us, we headed into the main lounge area and found a good seating area in the middle of the lounge before getting some refreshments for ourselves.

Realising that I had yet to change some of my local currencies into Japanese yen, I told my parents that I would be heading over to a nearby currency exchange counter, while they agreed to look after my belongings. With that, I left the Silver Kris Lounge at 9.30 p.m. and took the escalator down to the main airside in search for a currency exchange counter. While at the currency exchange counter, I changed S$2,800 and the remainder of my Hong Kong dollars at HK$3,470 left from June 2016 to Japanese yen, receiving a total of ¥263,000. This resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of my Japanese yen from ¥215,157 left from February 2016 to ¥478,157.

Upon changing my money into Japanese yen, I went to do some brief plane-spotting before eventually heading back upstairs to the Silver Kris Lounge for some more light late night refreshments. Arriving safely back at the Silver Kris Lounge at 9.45 p.m., I took out my electronics to do some personal trip report editings on my online blog. While doing so, I took the opportunity to take some potato crisps, white wine and some hot cocoa to freshen myself up before the overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita).

The interior of the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly after we had entered the main lounge area

The self-service hot beverage counter in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A cup of hot cocoa for myself in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Overlooking the inner seating areas in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The self-service cold beverage and wine counters in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A glass of white wine and a platter of potato crisps for myself in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The interior of the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly before I headed back down to the main airside to change some of my local currencies into Japanese yen

About to take the escalator back down to the main airside from the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in search for a nearby currency exchange counter

Bypassing some duty-free shops on route to a nearby currency exchange counter in the main airside near Concourse A in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally arriving at a nearby currency exchange counter in the main airside near Concourse A in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Bypassing The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Overlooking the main airport tarmac from the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X, registered 9V-STE, resting at Gate No. B1 in Concourse B at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 after arriving from her regional evening flight from the Federation of Malaysia as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 119 from Kuala Lumpur. She will then have a long overnight flight to Kyushu, Japan, as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 656 bound for Fukuoka

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKH, being serviced at Gate No. A2 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean flight to the United Kingdom as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 322 bound for London (Heathrow)

Bypassing some duty-free shops on route back to the Silver Kris Lounge in the main airside near Concourse A in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The departure flight information screens in the main level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Bypassing some more duty-free shops on route back to the Silver Kris Lounge in the main airside near Concourse A in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Approaching the escalators leading up to the main entrance to the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airline lounge level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airline lounge level of the main airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The interior of the table seating areas in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Planning out the first section of the trip report on my blog in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, using Frutiger CE as the core typeface for this particular trip report

Reading through the most hilarious quote in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' on iBooks, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum after his nephew tries to teach Dudley to say 'please' so that he could have more bacon at the breakfast table ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

Another cup of hot cocoa for myself in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The self-service hot food counters in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Overlooking the inner seating areas in the Silver Kris Lounge again in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

More potato crisps for myself in the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The interior of the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 from our seating area shortly before I proceeded to Gate No. A4 for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

Part 2(a) ~ The Flight To Tokyo (Narita)

Airline: Singapore Airlines
Flight No.: SQ 638
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Changi, Singapore
To: Tokyo, Narita International Airport (NRT / RJAA), Narita, Chiba, Japan
Aircraft: Boeing 777-212/ER
Registration No.: 9V-SRQ
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 19A
Date: Wednesday, 30 November 2016

After spending approximately 1 hour 45 minutes of using our own electronic devices and having some light refreshments in the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, the clock was already showing 10.55 p.m.. Given that boarding for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would be scheduled to commence in half an hour's time, I packed my baggage and departed the Silver Kris Lounge for Gate No. A4. My family promised to join me on board the aircraft later on. The entire walk linking from the Silver Kris Lounge to Gate No. A4 took not more than approximately five minutes.

Soon enough, I finally arrived at the entrance to the main waiting lounges of Gates No. A1 to A8 at eleven o' clock, which was in good time for boarding for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) to commence in 25 minutes' time. With just a simple and rapid security check, I was finally in the passenger waiting lounge near Gate No. A4 at 11.05 p.m.. Observing the number of waiting passengers in the passenger waiting area near Gate No. A4, I could see that Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would be expected to have a half load tonight.

Tonight, Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would be operated by a Boeing 777-200/ER aircraft, registered 9V-SRQ and powered with two Rolls-Royce Trent 884 engines. 9V-SRQ was delivered to Singapore Airlines on 25 August 2003 as the 44th Boeing 777-200/ER and as the 52nd Boeing 777 for the airline. The overall delivery would then make the entire aircraft approximately 13.3 years old today, which would make it one of the oldest Boeing 777s in the Singapore Airlines fleet.

One final look at the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly before I proceeded to Gate No. A4 in Concourse A for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

About to take the escalator back down to the main airside from the Silver Kris Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in the direction to Gate No. A4 in Concourse A for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

Bypassing some duty-free shops located near Concourse A en route to Gate No. A4 for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) in the main airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally arriving at the entrance to the passenger waiting lounge at Gates No. A1 to A8 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally entering the passenger waiting lounge at Gates No. A1 to A8 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Our aircraft for tonight, 9V-SRQ, being serviced at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight red-eye flight over the South China Sea and East China Sea to Japan as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

A close-up of 9V-SRQ being serviced at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight red-eye flight over the South China Sea and East China Sea to Japan as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

The passenger waiting lounge at Gates No. A1 to A8 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 located near Gate No. A4

9V-SKH being serviced at Gate No. A2 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean flight to the United Kingdom as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 322 bound for London (Heathrow)

Continuing with the draft work for the first part of the trip report on my blog while waiting at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reading through the most hilarious quote in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' on iBooks, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum after his nephew tries to teach Dudley to say 'please' so that he could have more bacon at the breakfast table ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

The passenger waiting lounge at Gates No. A1 to A8 in Concourse A Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 located near Gate No. A4 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) were made

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting inside the passenger waiting area at Gate No. A4, the first boarding announcements for Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita) were finally made at 11.20 p.m.. The Business Class passengers, along with the KrisFlyer Gold club members and passengers needing special assistance, were called out to board the aircraft first. Given that I was among the first passengers being called out to board first, I promptly rolled up at the front row with all my belongings for the boarding process to take place smoothly and orderly.

Walking across the jet bridge through Door A, I was finally on board 9V-SRQ by 11.25 p.m., which was just in good time for an 11.55 p.m. departure to Tokyo (Narita). At the front entrance, two flight stewardesses welcomed me on board and showed me the way to my seat located in the Business Class cabin. My family also joined me on board the aircraft a few minutes later. Stowing all our belongings into their respective storage spaces, we settled down into our assigned Seats No. 19A, 19C, 19D and 19F in preparation for the long overnight flight of 6 hours 35 minutes across the South China Sea and East China Sea to Tokyo (Narita).

The Business Class seats we would be using for the upcoming overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita) were the first generation new Regional Business Class seats. These seats have a shell-shaped design, and have individual AC power outlets for passengers to use their own portable electronic devices, also reclining up to 175º to allow passengers to rest. They were introduced from January 2009 with the delivery of the Airbus A330s, and are mainly available on the Airbus A330s, refitted Boeing 777-200/ERs and the Boeing 777-300s.

One of the flight stewardesses also heard about our in-flight meal orders via the 'Book the Cook' service when my mum made the flight bookings three weeks earlier. As for the in-flight main supper course, I would be having the char-grilled soya-flavoured beef served with vegetables simmered in mirin and shimeji mushroom rice by Chef Yoshihiro Murata. The flight stewardess also took down my main meal orders for the in-flight breakfast before the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport.

For the main course, I opted to have the American breakfast consisting of a cheese omelette served with herbs, pan-fried bacon, roma tomato, sautéed mushrooms and potatoes. The flight attendants then went around the entire cabin distributing the pre-departure beverages and newspapers to all the Business Class passengers. I had my usual glasses of champagne and orange juice to settle down for the long overnight journey to Tokyo (Narita), also filling up a KrisShop duty-free order form to purchase an Airbus A350 XWB and a Boeing 777-300/ER exclusive aircraft model at the same time.

Walking across the jet bridge at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A to 9V-SRQ at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A view of my seat, 19A, during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941, registered 9V-SMC, being serviced at Gate No. A3 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean flight to the Republic of South Africa as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 478 bound for Johannesburg

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

My usual glasses of orange juice and champagne during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reviewing the KrisShop in-flight duty-free magazine during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The cover page for the in-flight dining menu for the in-bound segment between Singapore and Tokyo (Narita) during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reviewing the in-flight supper service section of the in-flight dining menu for the in-bound segment between Singapore and Tokyo (Narita) during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reviewing the wine and beverage section of the in-flight dining menu for the in-bound segment between Singapore and Tokyo (Narita) during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Continuing with the draft work for the first part of the trip report on my blog during the boarding process at Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reading through the most hilarious quote in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' on iBooks, where Harry's Uncle Vernon throws a temper tantrum after his nephew tries to teach Dudley to say 'please' so that he could have more bacon at the breakfast table ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before the aircraft doors were closed for pushback from Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

At around 12 midnight, all the aircraft doors were closed, and the aircraft finally pushed back from Gate No. A4, approximately five minutes behind schedule. With the safety briefing information video being shown on our front seat personal video screens, the aircraft began to make its taxi to its assigned runway for its late night departure to Tokyo (Narita), taxiing past several aircraft parked close to Terminal 2 and the future Terminal 4 on the way.

It was not long until we reached our assigned runway in preparation for our overnight take-off to Tokyo (Narita). Soon enough, the aircraft's two Rolls-Royce Trent 884 engines spooled into action, and the aircraft finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 12.20 a.m. for its long overnight flight of 5 hours 55 minutes over both the South China Sea and East China Sea to the modern metropolitan capital city of Japan. We then climbed into pitch black late night sky for a long overnight flight of 5 hours 55 minutes across the South China Sea and East China Sea to the modern metropolitan capital city of Japan.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. A4 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Another view of 9V-SMC being serviced at Gate No. A3 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean flight to the Republic of South Africa as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 478 bound for Johannesburg

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKP, being serviced at Gate No. A5 in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey to the Swiss Confederation as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 346 bound for Zürich

The in-flight safety briefing information video indicating that on-board smoking, including tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories, is hazardous and forbidden under national Singapore aviation law

Taxiing along the main airport tarmac close to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 on route to our assigned runway in preparation for our overnight departure to Tokyo (Narita)

Crossing the East Coast Parkway on route to our assigned runway in preparation for our overnight departure to Tokyo (Narita)

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X resting on the main airport tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the taxi to our assigned runway in preparation for our overnight departure to Tokyo (Narita)

Taxiing close to our assigned runway near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 in preparation for our overnight departure to Tokyo (Narita)

A Lufthansa Airbus A380-841, registered D-AIMF, getting ready to take off from her assigned runway in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean return journey back home to the Federal Republic of Germany as Lufthansa flight LH 779 bound for Frankfurt

Finally approaching our assigned runway in preparation for the overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita)

Singapore Airlines Flight 638 ~ Late Night Departure From Singapore Changi Airport

Finally climbing into the pitch black night sky shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

After taking off from Singapore Changi Airport, all the seatbelt signs were switched off at around 12.35 a.m., which was approximately 15 minutes into the flight's cruising altitude. While the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the late night in-flight supper service, I went to the lavatories and took my electronic devices out for my own use during the flight. Given that this was a rather long red-eye flight, all the cabin lights were dimmed throughout, with most of the passengers choosing to get some sleep.

While using my laptop, a flight stewardess appeared at our seats to ask my younger brother and I on what beverages we wanted to get settled down for the night. While my younger brother requested for a mug of hot Milo, I requested for a glass of iced Milo to commence the in-flight supper service. Recording my beverage order, the flight stewardess. Upon delivering my iced Milo, I sat back to enjoy it while surfing my own laptop, only to request for a second glass, knowing that I would not have the chance to have it in Japan.

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The rear view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

A glass of iced Milo for myself to commence the in-flight late night supper service

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Singapore and East Malaysia

Another glass of iced Milo for myself before having my main in-flight late night supper course

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the in-flight late night supper service

After spending approximately 25 minutes of surfing my own laptop and enjoying my glasses of iced Milo, a flight stewardess finally re-appeared at our seats with our meal trays at one o' clock. This time, she had my main 'Book the Cook' course consisting of Kyoto Chef Yoshihiro Murata's char-grilled soya-flavoured beef served with vegetables simmered in mirin and shimeji mushroom rice. I was also asked by an in-flight steward on what beverage I wanted to accompany my main supper course.

I ordered a glass of 2015 Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand white wine to accompany my main supper course. With my main course already placed at my dining table with my wine, I quickly tucked into my late night in-flight supper. Taking a bite out of the char-grilled soya-flavoured beef, the beef tasted tender and mouthwatering, with the shimeji mushroom rice and vegetables being the most perfect accompaniments to such a meal, thereby making one of the best in-flight beef dishes I have ever eaten. The white wine also went quite well with my main course.

Once I was finished with my main supper course, the flight attendant came to collect the used meal trays, also asking me whether there was anything else I wanted for the night. To round off this good in-flight supper service, I requested for a glass of Baileys Irish Cream liquor. With my request recorded, the flight stewardess headed back into the galley to fetch my Baileys Irish Cream, arriving back at my seat with it by 1.15 a.m.. I then sipped it in a few minutes to settle down for the flight before she came over to my seat again to collect my used liquor glass. Feeling tired already, I decided to recline my seat to get some sleep before the arrival into Narita International Airport.

My main in-flight supper course: Char-grilled soya-flavoured beef served with vegetables simmered in mirin and shimeji mushroom rice by Chef Yoshihiro Murata

The bottle of 2015 Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand white wine being held by the in-flight steward

My wine glass being filled with 2015 Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand white wine by the in-flight steward

About to enjoy my 2015 Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand white wine with my main course

About to enjoy my char-grilled soya-flavoured beef served with vegetables simmered in mirin and shimeji mushroom rice by Chef Yoshihiro Murata

A glass of Baileys Irish Cream to finish off the in-flight late night supper service

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the in-flight late night supper service was finished

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Vietnam and East Malaysia

Cruising somewhere over the South China Sea between Vietnam and East Malaysia late at night

Part 2(b) ~ The Descent Cum Arrival Into Narita International Airport

After getting approximately 3 hours 20 minutes of undisturbed sleep during the flight, I finally woke up at around 4.50 a.m.. As the in-flight breakfast service was underway, most of the passengers were gradually beginning to wake up to have some breakfast before the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport. With some of the cabin lights switched on, a flight attendant also set up my dining table in preparation for the main in-flight breakfast course to be delivered efficiently to my seat.

Soon enough, a flight stewardess, a flight attendant finally appeared at my seat with our breakfast trays at five o' clock. This time, she had our main American breakfasts that consisted of a cheese omelette served with herbs, pan-fried bacon, roma tomato, sautéed mushrooms and potatoes. She also asked my younger brother and I what beverages we wanted to accompany our main in-flight breakfast courses. While my younger brother requested for a mug of hot Milo, I requested for a glass of iced Milo to accompany my main in-flight breakfast course.

Dawn was also beginning to break over the Taiwan Straits at the same time. With my iced Milo delivered to my dining table, I tucked into my in-flight breakfast course. The omelette tasted quite refreshing to help freshen up before our morning arrival into Narita International Airport, with the bacon, mushrooms and potatoes being quite good for perfect accompaniments for such a good breakfast. Once I was finished with my breakfast, my meal tray was collected by the flight stewardess. Since I was feeling full already, I went to the lavatories to brush my teeth in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport before using my electronic devices.

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the in-flight breakfast service

My main in-flight breakfast course: American breakfast consisting of cheese omelette served with herbs, pan-fried bacon, sautéed mushrooms and potatoes

A glass of iced Milo for myself to commence the in-flight breakfast service

Dawn beginning to break over the Taiwan Straits near the South China Sea

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat being dimmed shortly after the in-flight breakfast service was finished

My front seat video screen indicating that we have approximately 55 minutes left before our descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport

After returning from the lavatories and using my personal electronic devices, a flight stewardess finally re-appeared at my seat at 5.25 a.m.. This time, she had my KrisShop in-flight duty-free shopping bag containing my requested exclusive aircraft models. Knowing that I had no more Singapore dollars to pay for the exclusive aircraft models, I knew that Japanese yen was one of the currencies accepted by KrisShop, which resulted in me using the first of my Japanese yen to pay for them. With both exclusive aircraft models costing ¥9,100, I paid ¥10,000 and received a change of ¥900 in return.

This made me satisfied since one of the exclusive aircraft models would be the first Airbus A350 XWB aircraft model in my extensive model aircraft collection at home. Upon stowing my newly-purchased aircraft models safely, I went over to the lavatories and stowed some of my belongings to minimise any inconvenience before the arrival into Narita International Airport. Since there was still 45 minutes left before our arrival into Narita International Airport, I settled down into my seat to use my own electronic gadgets until the seatbelt signs were illuminated again for the descent into Tokyo (Narita).

As for the newly-purchased Singapore Airlines Herpa Wings Scale 1:500 aircraft models I had purchased from KrisShop, they were, as follows:

1) Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941 Herpa Scale 1:500 (529051)

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941 Herpa Scale 1:500 (529051)

2) Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (524858)

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (524858)

My two new Singapore Airlines Herpa Scale 1:500 exclusive aircraft models purchased from KrisShop

Cruising somewhere over the Seto Inland Sea and the Kii Peninsula near Shikoku

A view of my seat, 19A, during cruising altitude over the Seto Inland Sea and the Kii Peninsula near Shikoku

The rear view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over the Seto Inland Sea and the Kii Peninsula near Shikoku

Cruising somewhere over the Kii Peninsula near Ise Bay

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude somewhere over the Kii Peninsula near Ise Bay

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (524858)

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before the seatbelt signs were illuminated in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport

Cruising somewhere over the Izu Peninsula near Suruga Bay

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude somewhere over the Izu Peninsula near Suruga Bay

In accordance with the Japanese Standard Timing, the seatbelt signs were illuminated once again at 6.50 a.m., which was approximately 25 minutes in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport. Knowing that we had less than half an hour left before our early morning arrival into Tokyo (Narita), we stowed the remainder of our belongings back into their respective storage spaces and buckled our seatbelts in preparation for the aircraft to commence its one final approach into Narita International Airport. The flight attendants also went about the cabin collecting the used in-flight entertainment headsets and conducting pre-arrival safety checks as well.

The weather became cloudy and damp as the aircraft commenced its final approach into Narita International Airport. After a long overnight red-eye flight time of 5 hours 55 minutes over the South China Sea from the small island-city state of the Republic of Singapore surrounded by the Malaysian Straits, we finally touched down into a rainy Narita International Airport at 7.15 a.m., which was approximately 15 minutes ahead of schedule. We then taxied through the main airport tarmac to our assigned arrival gate located at the South Wing of Terminal 1.

Narita International Airport (Japanese: 成田国際空港; Traditional Chinese: 成田國際機場; Simplified Chinese: 成田国际机场) is a major international airport complex located in the suburban outskirts of the city of Narita, Chiba, Japan. It is the central international airport for passengers coming into the Greater Tokyo Area by air, one of the two major international airports in the Greater Tokyo Area and the second-busiest airport in Japan, with approximately 37.3 million passengers using the airport in fiscal 2015. The airport serves as a hub for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Jetstar Japan, Nippon Cargo Airlines, Peach and Vanilla Air, and is an integral Asian hub for several United States carriers, like Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The airport was opened for service on 20 May 1978 to handle the increasing number of tourist arrivals coming into the Greater Tokyo Area, and to ease overcrowding issues at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). Since then, Narita International Airport has taken over most of the international flight traffic coming into the Greater Tokyo Area. However, from 21 October 2010, Haneda Airport became more open to regular international flights in the late night hours when Narita International Airport is closed, resulting in competition for international tourist arrivals coming into the Greater Tokyo Area for both airports.

Narita International Airport is accessible from the Greater Tokyo Area via the Narita Express limited express train service by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), which provides connections to Tokyo Station in under an hour, and to the major downtown and urban districts of Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Yokohama. Rapid services bound for the Sobu Main Line and Yokosuka Line are also available, with both services covered under the Japan Rail Pass. Keisei Electric Railway operates the Skyliner limited express train service to Ueno via the Narita Sky Access Line in 44 minutes, thus making the Skyliner limited express service the fastest and cheapest limited express train option between the airport and downtown Tokyo. Some commuter services on the Narita Sky Access Line also offer direct service to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) via the Toei Asakusa Line and Keikyu Lines.


The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were illuminated in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport

Cruising somewhere between the Izu and Boso Peninsulas between Izu and Yokohama

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude somewhere between the Izu and Boso Peninsulas between Izu and Yokohama

Cruising somewhere over the Boso Peninsula near Chiba Prefecture in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat as the aircraft begins to commence its final approach into Narita International Airport

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude somewhere over the Boso Peninsula near Chiba Prefecture in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Narita International Airport

Crusing through a blanket of thick clouds over Narita as the aircraft begins to commence its final approach into Narita International Airport

Singapore Airlines Flight 638 ~ Rainy Morning Landing In Narita International Airport

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, registered JA823A, resting at Gate No. 37 at Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing) after arriving from her long overnight return flight from the Republic of India as All Nippon Airways flight NH 830 from Mumbai. She would then have another long afternoon trans-Siberian flight to the Federal Republic of Germany as All Nippon Airways flight NH 209 bound for Düsseldorf

A Thai Airways International Airbus A330-343X, registered HS-TER, resting at Gate No. 44 at Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing) after arriving from her long overnight flight from the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 640 from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi). She would then return home to the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 641 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

Taxiing across the wet airport tarmac of Narita International Airport on route to our assigned arrival gate at Terminal 1 (South Wing)

Finally docking on to our assigned arrival gate, Gate No. 45, at Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing)

The view of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200/ER Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after we docked on to our assigned arrival gate, Gate No. 45, at Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing)

After taxiing through the airport tarmac for approximately five minutes to Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing), we finally docked onto our assigned arrival gate, Gate No. 45, at 7.20 a.m.. Once the seatbelt signs were turned off, we promptly unbuckled all our seatbelts and retrieved our belongings from their storage spaces in preparation for the disembarkation process to commence smoothly. We then conducted one final check around our seats to ensure that there was nothing left on board the aircraft.

Upon retrieving our belongings, we quickly conducted a final check around our seats to ensure that there was absolutely nothing left behind around our seating areas or in the overhead compartments. We then rolled up behind some other passengers in preparation for the disembarkation process at Gate No. 45 to commence smoothly. As we disembarked from the aircraft through the front aircraft door, the flight attendants thanked us for our patronage with Singapore Airlines and wished all of us a pleasant end-of-year winter vacation in Japan.

Following each individual flight segment, each airline I fly with will receive an airline grade based on holistic descriptors. This grading system allows me to determine the suitability of flying with a particular airline on a certain route. The holistic descriptors consists of five scoring segments, which are the seat, food, service, aircraft cleanliness and legroom space. Each score section carries 20 points, which totals up to 100 points. To attain a passing grade, an airline has to attain an overall aggregate holistic score of at least 45%, or at least a 'D' grade per flight segment. The airline grading system is as follows, as of 1 November 2016:

A+: 85% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 75% ~ 84% (Airline has a very good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 74% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has a satisfactory rating and performance)
D: 45% ~ 49% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
E: 35% ~ 44% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
S: 20% ~ 34% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has failed to meet the pre-requisite for the minimum grade)

Singapore Airlines Flight 638 Score Report

Seat: 15 / 20
Food: 18 / 20
Service: 17 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 17 / 20
Total: 85 / 100
Grade: A+ (Quality Pass)

Upon adopting a holistic point of view, Singapore Airlines has attained an aggregate score of 85% for the in-bound segment between Singapore and Tokyo (Narita), which implies that they have attained the highest 'A+' grade with a quality pass. Despite the seat functions malfunctioning, such as the overhead reading lights, the seat was much wider than Korean Air's Prestige Sleeper seats, with the meal service being quite good as well. To ensure that Singapore Airlines continues to have positive customer reviews, they should keep up the good work to maintain their standards.

Part 3 ~ The Journey To The Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After disembarking from Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore at Gate No. 45, we walked across the terminal passageway linking to the arrival immigration checkpoints located in Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing). Given that there were not much passengers ending their final journey or having their connecting flights in Narita International Airport at this time of the early morning, the entire walk linking from Gate No. 45 to the arrival immigration checkpoints in Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing) took not more than approximately five minutes.

Soon enough, we arrived at the arrival immigration checkpoints at 7.35 a.m.. Heading to the foreign visitors section of the checkpoints, we promptly took out both our passports and relevant travel documents to have them checked by the arrival immigration officers, which took not more than approximately five minutes. Upon clearing the arrival immigration checkpoints successfully at 7.40 a.m., I quickly proceeded to check the baggage claiming information screens to see which baggage belt number our bulky check-in baggage from Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore would arrive at.

According to the baggage information screens, all bulkier check-in baggage from Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore would be scheduled to arrive at Belt No. B5. Without wasting anymore time, we promptly took the escalators down to the main baggage claiming hall to claim three baggage trolleys to load our lighter carry-on baggage on first. We then headed over to Belt No. B5 to claim our bulkier check-in baggage from Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore.


One final look at 9V-SRQ resting at Gate No. 45 at Narita International Airport Terminal 1 (South Wing) after arriving from her long overnight flight over the South China Sea and East China Sea from the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore

Walking across the moving passageway leading to the main arrival immigration checkpoints in the South Wing of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

Bypassing the connecting flight security checkpoints on route to the main arrival immigration checkpoints in the South Wing of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

Shortly after claiming all our check-in baggage from Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 from Singapore at Belt No. B5 and loading them onto the baggage trolleys with our other baggage, we finally entered the main South Wing arrivals and meeting hall of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 at 7.45 a.m.. Since we had several post-arrival errands to run and that the airport post office would only start operations at 8.30 a.m., we decided that the first thing to do would be to proceed down to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station to exchange our Japan Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers for our Japan Rail Passes.

With that, we went to a nearby seating area to sort out our belongings first and took the elevator to the first basement of Narita International Airport Terminal 1, where an underground passageway to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station was located. Walking through the underground sloped passageway, we finally arrived at the main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station at 8.05 a.m.. Proceeding over to the JR East Travel Service Center, we saw that the office's business hours would commence at 8.15 a.m., eventually rolling up at the front entrance before the office was opened.

Soon enough, the JR East Travel Service Center at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station was finally opened for daily business at 8.15 a.m., which was just as scheduled. Heading into the office, my mum filled up the required Japan Rail Pass application forms to ease the exchange flow process. Upon filling them up, we quickly got our passports ready and went over to the nearest open counter to have our Japan Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers exchanged for our two-week Japan Rail Passes. The entire Japan Rail Pass exchange process took not more than approximately five minutes.

Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station (Japanese: 成田空港駅; Traditional Chinese: 成田機場站; Simplified Chinese: 成田机场站) is a major underground railway station located in Narita International Airport Terminal 1 in 1-1 Sanrizuka-Goryo-Bokujo, Narita, Chiba, Japan. Operated jointly by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and Keisei Electric Railway, the station is located below the main terminal building of Narita International Airport Terminal 1, and serves as the ending point for all trains serving Narita International Airport. The station is the eastern terminus for the Narita Line (Airport Branch Line), including the Narita Express limited express services, and for Keisei Main Line and Keisei Narita Airport Line (Narita Sky Access Line), including the Skyliner limited express services.

The station was opened on 19 March 1991 as Narita Airport Station, serving as the eastern terminus for the Narita Line (Airport Branch Line) and Keisei Main Line. From 17 July 2010, with the opening of the Narita Sky Access Line (Keisei Narita Airport Line), all the Keisei Line platforms became extensively segregated. Here, all passengers using only the Keisei Main Line have to pass through a secondary ticket gate to access the Keisei Main Line platforms for separate fare structures. From 8 April 2015, with the opening of Terminal 3, the station's English name was changed to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station. As of 26 March 2016, the station has an island platform serving two tracks for the JR Lines, and two joined island platforms serving five tracks for the Keisei Lines.


The main arrivals and meeting hall in the South Wing of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

Searching for a nearby elevator in the main arrivals and meeting hall in the South Wing of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

The interior of the first basement level of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 near Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

Finally arriving at the main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

Rolling up outside the JR East Travel Service Center in the main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

After completing the Green-type Japan Rail Pass exchange process at the JR East Travel Service Center located in Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station, we finally received all our two-week Japan Rail Passes at 8.20 a.m.. Given that the post office in the Central Wing would be commencing its business hours in 10 minutes' time, my family entrusted me to make the Green Car (first class) seat reservations for the in-bound trip to Shinjuku, and reminded me to meet up with them in the Central Wing on the fourth floor once I had completed our seat reservations.

With the seat reservation responsibilities entrusted to me, I quickly went to make the Green Car (first class) seat reservations for our in-bound trip to Shinjuku, and for my family to go to Kyoto for the in-bound segment to catch the last sights of autumn for the next day. For the in-bound morning trip to Shinjuku, we would catch the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 bound for Shinjuku, which would depart from Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station at 9.45 a.m., and arrive at the Shinjuku terminal station at 11.10 a.m.. This would then mark the first time my family would use the Narita Express service from Narita International Airport.

Once I had completed the necessary Green Car (first class) seat reservations, I promptly left the JR East Travel Service Center and took the escalator up to the elevator lobby linking to the upper levels of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 before catching the nearest elevator upwards to the Central Wing located on the fourth floor. Upon reaching the Central Wing on the fourth floor at 8.40 a.m., I went to the McDonald's cafeteria, where my family was purchasing some fast-food breakfast, with my mum waiting for me with the envelope containing our mobile Wi-Fi Internet routers.

Heading to a nearby seating area near the Starbucks Coffee cafeteria and the Terminal 1 post office, my mum taught me on how to use the mobile Wi-Fi Internet router for my own use through the entire trip in Japan. We then sat back to have our breakfast before heading back down to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station to catch our morning Narita Express train to Shinjuku. I also handed my mum our Green Car (first class) train tickets and their Japan Rail Passes while retaining my own ticket and Japan Rail Pass at the same time.

The main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour shortly before I headed up to the Central Wing located on the fourth floor of Narita International Airport Terminal 1

Taking the escalators back up to the first basement level of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 from Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

The interior of the Central Wing on the fourth floor of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

Bypassing some shops in the Central Wing on the fourth floor of Narita International Airport Terminal 1 during the early morning rush hour

After having our McDonald's fast-food breakfast and collecting our mobile Internet Wi-Fi routers, the clock was finally showing 8.55 a.m.. Knowing that we had less than half an hour before the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 bound for Shinjuku, we quickly disposed of our used McDonalds fast-food bags and headed to the elevator lobby to catch the nearest elevator back down to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station. Taking the nearest elevator down to the first basement level of Narita International Airport Terminal 1, we all walked across the underground passageway to Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station, eventually arriving back at the main station concourse at 9.10 a.m..

Heading over to the JR Line interchange ticketing gates, we sorted out all our tickets before showing all our Japan Rail Passes to the ticketing officer at the staffed JR Line ticketing gates. I then proceeded to check which platform the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 bound for Shinjuku would depart from. According to the departure information screens, the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 bound for Shinjuku would depart at 9.45 a.m. from Track No. 1. Without wasting anymore time, we got hold of our baggage and took the elevator down to the JR Line platforms, eventually reaching there at 9.20 a.m..

The Narita Express (Japanese: 成田エクスプレス; Chinese: 成田特快) is a major limited express train service operated solely by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Narita International Airport and the Greater Tokyo Area in Japan. It is currently the fastest service between Narita International Airport and the Greater Tokyo Area, and operates every half an hour daily, with 27 daily return workings per direction. An average trip between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport takes between 55 minutes to an hour, with some train services stopping at Chiba, Yotsukaido, Sakura and Narita Stations in the early morning and early evening rush hours. The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 19 March 1991, using 253 series EMUs at a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Formed between three and six cars, these sets were often coupled together to form as either nine or 12 cars between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport. From 1 October 2009, E259 series EMUs were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph), thereby displacing the earlier 253 series EMUs used on these services by 30 June 2010. Like the older 253 series EMUs, these sets were often coupled together to form as 12 cars between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport.

Green Car (first class) private compartments were available on train services operated by the earlier 253 series EMUs. However, these were phased out on 30 June 2010, since the E259 series EMUs do not feature these compartments. All seats are reserved and non-smoking, with the Narita Express service being free of charge for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. However, on 11 March 2011, all Narita Express services were suspended following the effects of the Great East Japan Tsunami. They were partially re-stored from 4 April 2011, with the remaining pre-earthquake and tsunami timetable and services finally re-instated on 3 September 2011.


Finally arriving back at the main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

Approaching the JR Line ticketing gates in the main station concourse of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

The JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

The station name plate on the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

Overlooking the Keisei Line platforms from the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station during the early morning rush hour

Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station shortly before the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku arrived at the station

After spending almost 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 1 and 2 on the JR Line platforms, a 12-car E259 series EMU finally arrived at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station at 9.29 a.m. on Track No. 1. The trains had initially arrived from Shinjuku as the Limited Express Narita Express No. 11 bound for Narita International Airport earlier, and were to undergo a quick, extensive cleaning process before becoming the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku. The entire cleaning process for both trains took not more than approximately 10 minutes.

Upon completion of the entire train-cleaning process, all the train-cleaning signs were taken out at 9.38 a.m., thereby allowing the passengers to board the train bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku. Without wasting anymore time, we quickly boarded the train via Car No. 12, which was the Green Car (first class) coach bound for Shinjuku, and settled down into our assigned Seats No. 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B for the short and routine early afternoon trip of 1 hour 25 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku in downtown Tokyo. Our baggage was also stowed in the baggage racks located behind the cabin at the same time.

Once the clock struck exactly 9.45 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Narita Express No. 10 finally pulled out of Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station for its short and routine early afternoon journey to the Greater Tokyo Area. Cars No. 1 to 6 would be destined for Yokohama, whereas Cars No. 7 to 12 would be destined for Shinjuku, with both trains to be separated for their destinations at Tokyo Station. We were then on our way for a short and routine early afternoon journey of 1 hour 25 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku in downtown Tokyo.

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス10号 横浜・新宿行き 成田空港駅に入線シーン

The 12-car E259 series EMU, now operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

The logo of the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

Getting ready to board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

The 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, still undergoing cleaning on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

A view of my seat, 3A, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, during the boarding process on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 1 of the JR Line platforms at Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

Awaiting departure from Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス10号 新宿行き 成田空港駅から空港第2ビル駅間

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス10号 新宿行き 空港第2ビル (発車) ~ 成田付近 (通過)

Passing through Narita Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Narita

Bypassing some farming fields in the suburban town of Shisui

Passing through Sakura Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Sakura

Bypassing some farming fields in the suburban city of Sakura

Passing through Yotsukaido Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Wakaba-ku, Chiba

Bypassing a train yard in downtown Chuo-ku, Chiba, near Chiba Station

Passing through Chiba Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in downtown Inage-ku, Chiba

Passing through Inage Station

Bypassing some housing areas in downtown Hanamigawa-ku, Chiba

Bypassing a train yard in downtown Hanamigawa-ku, Chiba

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Narashino

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス10号 新宿行き 津田沼 (通過) ~ 東京 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Tokyo Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, between Tokyo and Shinagawa Stations

A view of my seat, 3A, between Tokyo and Shinagawa Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, between Tokyo and Shinagawa Stations

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 10 bound for Yokohama & Shinjuku, from my seat between Tokyo and Shinagawa Stations

Emerging out of the Yokosuka Line underground tunnel into downtown Minato-ku, Tokyo, near Shinagawa Station

Passing through Shinagawa Station

Crossing the Shonan-Shinjuku Line flyover bridge near Osaki Station

Passing through Osaki Station

Passing through Gotanda Station

Bypassing some office infrastructure in downtown Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Making a brief stop at Shibuya Station


E259系 特急成田エクスプレス10号 新宿行き 渋谷駅から終点新宿駅間

After a short and quick routine early afternoon journey of 1 hour 25 minutes from Narita International Airport in the suburban outskirts of Narita in Chiba Prefecture, we finally arrived at the Shinjuku terminal station at 11.10 a.m. on Track No. 5. Checking to see that there was nothing left behind on board, we retrieved all our baggage from the baggage racks and alighted from the train before walking to the nearest elevator lobby on the platform to catch the elevator up to the upper JR Line concourse.

Reaching the upper JR Line concourse at 11.15 a.m., we quickly proceeded over to the ticketing gates near the New South Entrance, where we showed our Japan Rail Passes to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate. Upon entering the concourse near the New South Entrance, we promptly headed to the nearby elevator lobby, where we took the nearest elevators up to the third floor, where the bus and cab levels were all located. Given that we had several pieces of large baggage, we knew that we had to hail two cabs to get to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

With that, we took the nearby elevator up to the third floor of the station building, where the upper level cab stands were located, eventually reaching there by 11.20 a.m.. Heading over to the nearby cab stands, two cabs were already waiting at the stands. Upon hailing them down, we quickly informed the drivers that our intended destination was the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. They also offered to help load our baggage into the cabs while we got in. Soon enough, once everything had been safely loaded into the cabs, we finally departed Shinjuku Station at 11.25 a.m. for a short routine afternoon cab journey of just 10 minutes to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

Shinjuku Station (Japanese: 新宿駅; Traditional Chinese: 新宿車站; Simplified Chinese: 新宿车站) is a major interchange railway terminal complex located on the intersection between downtown Shibuya-ku and Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan. As one of Tokyo's major intercity railway terminals, it is currently the world's busiest railway terminal, with approximately 3.6 million travellers passing through the station daily in 2007, and is a major transportation hub between downtown Tokyo and the suburban outskirts to the west of Tokyo. The station is jointly managed by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Keio Corporation, Odakyu Electric Railway, Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro.

The station is a major starting and ending point for several limited express trains for the Shin'etsu region and Kinugawa Onsen via joint operations with the private Tobu Railway, including Narita Express limited express services linking to and from Narita International Airport. With approximately 1.5 million passengers passing through the station daily, JR East is currently the busiest railway operator at Shinjuku Station. The station serves as a major intersection point for the Chuo Main Line (Rapid), Chuo-Sobu Line, Saikyo Line, Shonan-Shinjuku Line and Yamanote Line.

Shinjuku Station also serves as a major beginning point for all services on the Odakyu Electric Railway lines, including Romancecar limited express services linking to popular tourist spots, like Enoshima, Hakone and Gotemba. The Keio Corporation handles approximately 720,000 passengers daily, thereby making it the largest private railway operator in Japan. The station houses many department stores around its complex, such as Shinjuku Takashimaya, Odakyu Department Store and Keio Department Store.

The Hilton Hotel Tokyo (Japanese: ヒルトン東京; Traditional Chinese: 東京希爾頓酒店; Simplified Chinese: 东京希尔顿酒店) is a major 38-storey five-star luxury hotel owned by the Hilton Hotels & Resorts group located in 6-2 Nishi-shinjuku 6-chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Opened for revenue service on 1 September 1984, the hotel houses 811 guest rooms and six restaurants, as well as four basement levels across 38 storeys. The hotel is directly accessible from Nishi-shinjuku Station located on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, with complimentary hotel shuttle bus service to Shinjuku Station available exclusively for hotel guests.

Tracks No. 5 and 6 serving some of the limited express trains bound for Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen, Narita International Airport and the Izu Peninsula at Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The 6-car E259 series EMU, now operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 23 bound for Narita International Airport, on Track No. 5 at Shinjuku Station

The JR Line interchange concourse located the New South Entrance of Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The main JR Line ticketing concourse located the New South Entrance of Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The third floor cab stands above the New South Entrance of Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

One of the green cabs that would take us to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at the third floor cab stands above the New South Entrance of Shinjuku Station

Finally departing the third floor cab stands above the New South Entrance of Shinjuku Station

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, between the West and New South Entrances of Shinjuku Station

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on route to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, with the Hilton Hotel Tokyo coming into view

The Hilton Hotel Tokyo coming into view on a bright and clear early winter's early afternoon

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After a short and quick routine early afternoon cab trip of 10 minutes from Shinjuku Station, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 11.35 a.m.. Checking to see that there was nothing left behind on board, we quickly paid our cab fare while two hotel porters came out with a large hotel baggage trolley to assist us with our baggage. Thanking the cab driver for his services, my dad and I headed into the main hotel lobby, where both my mum and younger brother were already waiting for us at the hotel reception and check-in counters.

Heading over to the hotel check-in counters, I gave my passport to my mum in order to facilitate the check-in process, with the entire hotel check-in process taking not more than 15 minutes due to the hotel having its peak period of guests. Once we were done with the check-in process, we finally received all our room keys at 11.55 a.m.. The hotel check-in agent informed us that for the next four days, we would be given Rooms No. 2801 and 2829 located on the 28th floor, with our baggage to be brought up to Room No. 2801 first. However, we were also informed Room No. 2829 was occupied by other guests, and once they had checked out, the room would be ready at 2.30 p.m..

With that, we thanked the hotel check-in receptionist for her services and took the elevator up to the 28th floor, eventually reaching the entrance to our Room No. 2801 at 12.05 p.m.. Entering the room, we saw that the room consisted of a living room, king-sized bed and a bathroom. Soon enough, our baggage was finally brought up from the main hotel lobby to our Room No. 2801 at 12.20 p.m.. With our baggage delivered safely, we went to have a shower before using our own electronic devices, sorting out our clothes for the coming days in Tokyo and having a well-earned rest.

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo shortly after we had arrived

A large Christmas stretching two floors high in the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

The interior of the main living room in my parents' Room No. 2801 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon

The interior of the bedroom in my parents' Room No. 2801 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon

Overlooking the roads and skyline of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, from my parents' Room No. 2801 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon

Overlooking the view of the skyline of Tokyo from my parents' Room No. 2801 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon

After spending some parts of the afternoon having a well-earned rest and using our own electronic devices in my parents' Room No. 2801, the clock was finally showing 1.35 p.m.. Knowing that I had some errands to run at Shinjuku Station, I quickly left the room and took the elevator down to the main hotel lobby, eventually reaching there at 1.45 p.m.. Since there was a complimentary hotel shuttle bus service for hotel guests to Shinjuku Station, I decided that using the bus service would be the most practical option.

With that, I went to check with the concierge to see the closest departure timing for the next complimentary hotel shuttle bus bound for Shinjuku Station would depart from. According to the hotel concierge, the nearest complimentary hotel shuttle bus service bound for Shinjuku Station would depart at 1.50 p.m.. Since there was no more time to waste, I headed out to the hotel's main entrance, where a complimentary hotel shuttle bus bound for Shinjuku Station was already waiting.

Boarding the bus itself, I quickly secured a good window seat for the short and quick early afternoon hotel shuttle bus trip of five minutes to Shinjuku Station. Once the clock struck precisely 1.50 p.m. sharp, the bus door was closed, and the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus finally pulled out of the Hilton Hotel Tokyo for its short and routine early afternoon trip of five minutes to Shinjuku Station. I was then on my way for a short and routine early afternoon hotel shuttle bus trip of not more than just five minutes to Shinjuku Station.

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The 1.50 p.m. complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for Shinjuku Station waiting outside the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo during the mid-afternoon rush hour

The interior of the 1.50 p.m. complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for Shinjuku Station outside the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Finally departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, shortly after departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, with the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo coming into the background

Bypassing the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo on route to Shinjuku Station on a bright and clear mid-afternoon

The Keio Department Store coming into view as the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus approaches the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

Finally arriving outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

After a short and routine mid-afternoon complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus ride of not more than approximately five minutes from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Keio Department Store near Shinjuku Station at 1.55 p.m.. Checking to ensure that I had not left anything behind on board, I quickly alighted from the bus and headed to the main Odakyu Line entrance to Shinjuku Station before catching the nearest escalator down to the JR Line underground concourse near the West Entrance. I then walked through the entire JR Line underground concourse to the East Entrance, where a free JR Ticket Office was located.

Soon enough, I finally arrived at the entrance to the JR Ticket Office located near the East Entrance of the station building at 2.10 p.m.. Upon entering the JR Ticket Office, I rolled up behind some other passengers to await my turn. Once my turn to make my Green Car (first class) seat reservations came, I promptly took out our Japan Rail Passes to make the Green Car (first class) seat reservations. With our Japan Rail Passes in hand, I made the Green Car (first class) seat reservations for the return trip from Kyoto to Tokyo for my family for the next day and for the northbound trip to Hakodate for Sunday (4 December).

With the first two Green Car (first class) seat reservations completed, I made my own Green Car (first class) seat reservations for Universal Studios Japan in Osaka for the next day as well. Since my journey to Universal Studios Japan would involve the use of NOZOMI trains on the Tokaido Shinkansen line and that NOZOMI trains are not viable on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines with a Japan Rail Pass, I paid the necessary fares and surcharges for the trip to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. The entire seat reservation process took not more than approximately 25 minutes.

Bus Stop No. 21 serving the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle buses bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Approaching the Odakyu Line entrance located near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

The Odakyu Line ticketing concourse located near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Climbing down the stairs to the underground JR Line interchange concourse located near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Walking across the underground JR Line interchange concourse at Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

Approaching the JR Ticket Office in the underground JR Line interchange concourse located near the East Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the early afternoon rush hour

After completing the necessary Green Car (first class) seat reservations at the JR Ticket Office located in underground JR Line interchange concourse near the East Entrance to Shinjuku Station, the clock was ultimately showing 2.40 p.m.. Knowing that my Room No. 2829 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo was already prepared for my use, I quickly decided that the best thing to do would be to head back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo to shift my belongings from my parents' Room No. 2801 to Room No. 2829, and to have another well-earned rest for the entire day.

With that, I walked across the underground JR Line interchange concourse back to the West Entrance of the station before taking the escalator back up to the Odakyu Line ticketing concourse. Exiting the Odakyu Line ticketing concourse of Shinjuku Station, I walked outside the Keio Department Store to Bus Stop No. 21, where the free Hilton Hotel shuttle bus stop was located. Noticing that the next complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo would depart at three o' clock, I promptly rolled behind some other passengers heading to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

Soon enough, a complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arrived at Bus Stop No. 21 outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station at 2.55 p.m.. Once the sole bus door was opened, I boarded the bus for the short late afternoon return trip of five minutes back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. At precisely three o' clock sharp, the bus door was closed, and the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus pulled out of Shinjuku Station, taking me back for a short late afternoon bus ride of five minutes back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

The ticketing gates near the underground JR Line interchange concourse located near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The Odakyu Line ticketing concourse located near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Bus Stop No. 21 serving the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle buses bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The three o' clock complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo finally arriving at Bus Stop No. 21 located outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The interior of the three o' clock complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus bound for the Hilton Hotel Tokyo outside the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

Finally departing the Keio Department Store near the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The Odakyu Department Store coming into view as the complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus departs the West Entrance to Shinjuku Station back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, with the Hilton Hotel Tokyo coming into view

Bypassing the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo on route to back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear late afternoon

Turning into the road leading to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on a bright and clear late afternoon

The Hilton Hotel Tokyo coming into view on a bright and clear early winter's late afternoon

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

After a short and routine late afternoon complimentary Hilton Hotel shuttle bus trip of five minutes from Shinjuku Station, I finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 3.05 p.m.. Checking to see that there was nothing left behind on board, I promptly alighted from the bus and headed into the main hotel lobby before proceeding to the main hotel check-in reception counter to obtain two room keys that could be accessible to both Rooms No. 2801 and 2829 on the 28th floor easily.

Upon obtaining all our new room keys, I promptly took the nearest elevator up to my parents' Room No. 2801, eventually reaching back there at 3.15 p.m.. Since my mum and younger brother were sleeping, I quietly gave my family's tickets to Kyoto to my dad before sorting out my own belongings. I then spent the afternoon shifting my belongings from my parents' Room No. 2801 to Room No. 2829, eventually setting up my electronics in my Room No. 2829 to be charged up before having the remainder of the afternoon to rest in my own hotel room.

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo shortly after I had arrived back

The interior of the main living room in my parents' Room No. 2801 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's late afternoon

Finally inside my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Overlooking the view of the skyline of Tokyo from my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo on a bright and clear winter's late afternoon

Overlooking the view of the skyline of Tokyo from my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo after nightfall

The overall view of my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo after nightfall

After spending the entire afternoon having a well-earned rest in our Rooms No. 2801 and 2829 at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, the clock was finally showing 5.35 p.m.. Since we were beginning to feel hungry, my dad called me from his Room No. 2801 to inform me that we would be heading to the Nishi-shinjuku district for dinner, and to remind my younger brother and I to be prepared. With that, my younger brother and I spent the next ten minutes preparing what we required for our night at the Nishi-shinjuku district.

Soon enough, we were officially ready to go at 5.45 p.m.. Departing our Rooms No. 2801 and 2829, we took the nearest elevator down to the main hotel lobby and went out to the main entrance, where we asked a hotel butler to hail a cab down for us to head to the post office located near the Nishi-shinjuku district. Soon enough, a black cab finally showed up at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 5.50 p.m.. Boarding the black cab, we told the cab driver to take us to the post office located near the Nishi-shinjuku area, eventually departing the hotel in less than just a few minutes, with the entire cab trip taking less than just five minutes.

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

Finally departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling along the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, shortly after departing the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, with the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo coming into the background

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, close to the post office near the Nishi-shinjuku area

Finally arriving at the post office near the Nishi-shinjuku area

After a short and routine evening cab ride of less than five minutes from the Hilton Hotel Tokyo, we finally arrived at the post office located close to the Nishi-shinjuku district at 5.55 p.m.. Checking to see that we had everything with us, we quickly paid our cab fare and walked across the lively streets of the Nishi-shinjuku area, exploring some shops and cafeterias along the way. As we were feeling quite hungry, we had a look at most of the restaurants and cafeterias around the area to select the restaurant that would suit our tastes and preferences.

Soon enough, we arrived outside a local yakitori bar and restaurant, known as Torigen (Japanese: 鳥元; Traditional Chinese: 鳥元; Simplified Chinese: 鸟元), at 6.10 p.m.. Upon entering the restaurant itself, we promptly requested for a non-smoking table for the four of us. A waiter then directed us to a private room table, where we were promptly seated with our winter jackets hung. Once everyone had settled down, we had a very good review at the English menus provided for us before deciding on what offerings looked the most attractive to our tastes and preferences.

Once we were ready to eat, a waiter came by to take down our main meal orders for dinner. We ordered several yakitori items, such as chicken skin, chicken bonjiri, beef skirt, beef tongue, local Japanese-style grilled omelette and a local authentic chicken hot pot set. With our orders recorded by the waiter, our orders were delivered to us together in the yakitori courses, with the local authentic chicken hot pot set and local Japanese-style omelette arriving before that. That night, we had a very sumptuous and filling family dinner at Torigen, which was a good way to have the first night in Japan.

Walking on the streets close to the post office near the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

Finally entering the nightlife of the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

Bypassing a stationary store located in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

Walking close to the Yodobashi Camera department store in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

Walking past some restaurants in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

Finally arriving at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

The interior of the private non-smoking room at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The cover page for the English menu at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Reviewing the English menu at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The authentic local chicken hot pot portable cooker set up at our table at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of beef skirt yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The mixed vegetables and fresh chicken balls for the authentic local chicken hot pot portable cooker at our table at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of grilled and boiled quail egg yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Some mixed vegetables and fresh chicken pieces boiling in the authentic local chicken hot pot portable cooker at our table at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of chicken liver yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of chicken skin yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of chicken bonjiri yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of local Japanese-style grilled omelette for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

A plate of beef tongue yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

An additional plate of chicken skin yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

An additional plate of chicken bonjiri yakitori skewers for us at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

After having a very sumptuous and filling family yakitori dinner at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku district, the clock was finally showing 7.10 p.m.. Given that we were already feeling stuffed to the brim already with nothing more to do for the evening, we decided that the best thing to do would be to head back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo for a well-earned good night's rest in preparation for the next day. With that instant, we grabbed our belongings and winter jackets before we paid up our bill and left the restaurant by 7.15 p.m., with our goal to hail down the nearest cab back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo.

Soon enough, a black cab finally showed up along a road alley in the Nishi-shinjuku area at 7.20 p.m.. Boarding the cab itself, we quickly informed the driver to transport us back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo. Soon enough, once everyone was safely on board the cab, we finally departed busy and lively nightlife of the Nishi-shinjuku district in less than a minute for a short and routine early evening return cab trip of less than five minutes back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo located further downtown close to the Nishi-shinjuku district.

The interior of the private non-smoking room at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, shortly after we had finished dinner

The chicken dish introduction message interior near the main entrance at Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

The exterior view of Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Walking past more restaurants in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

The black cab that would soon take us back to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo arriving outside the Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Finally departing Torigen Shinjuku in the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Travelling across the alley roads of the Nishi-shinjuku area in downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, at night

About to turn into the main roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, from the Nishi-shinjuku area in the direction leading to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Travelling across the roads of downtown Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, in the direction to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

The Hilton Hotel Tokyo coming into view at night

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo shortly after we had arrived back

Finally arriving at my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo

Overlooking the view of the skyline of Tokyo from my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

The overall view of my Room No. 2829 on the 28th floor at the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at night

After a short and routine early evening cab journey of less than five minutes from the Nishi-shinjuku district, we finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel Tokyo at 7.25 p.m.. Checking to see that there was really nothing left behind on board, we paid up our cab fare and headed into the main hotel lobby before catching the nearest elevator up to our Rooms No. 2801 and 2829 located on the 28th floor. Upon reaching our Rooms No. 2801 and 2829 safely at 7.30 p.m., we quickly went in and sorted out our clothes, electronics and belongings for the coming days in Tokyo for the rest of the night.

Since I was to be going on a westbound theme park day journey to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka the next day, I quickly set my mobile phone alarm to wake up at six o' clock, and for the hotel concierge to arrange for a cab to transport me to the Yaesu Central Entrance to Tokyo Station at seven o' clock the next morning. Upon changing into my pyjamas for the night, I set up my electronic devices to be charged overnight to ensure sufficient usage for the next day. Since I was already feeling quite exhausted from our long red-eye flight from Singapore to Tokyo (Narita), I finally turned in at around around nine o' clock for a well-earned good night's sleep.

This officially brings the first segment of this year's Christmas winter special detailing my post-GCE 'A' Level examination end-of-year winter vacation to Tokyo & Hokkaido, Japan, to a formal conclusion. Like all past trip reports, questions and / or comments will be more than welcome, with a simple use of the commenting boxes below each trip report segment. The remaining segments of this year's end-of-year Christmas winter special report shall be published once I have selected the best quality pictures and photographs for each section. Please be patient as it requires a certain amount of time and effort to ensure their qualities.

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