When? March 2009
Where? Tokyo Area
In Spring 2009 it was time for another trip to Japan, concentrating on the area around Tokyo and mainly driven by the fact that the – until then – Naha Phantoms of 302 Hikotai have moved to Hyakuri, making this base the home of two JASDF Phantom Squadrons. Furthermore rumours were going around that the newly build runway there does offer some excellent photo possibilities.
Originally the trip was planned for the very end of March, making the best use of cheap flights and the start of the spring season in Japan, but fortunately enough we learned by a Japanese friend that during this foreseen week the flight activity of the JASDF tends to be zero as their new fiscal year starts in April (=there's no more money left at the end of the year…). With Friday, March 21st being a bank holiday we had to leave two weeks earlier than planned to have a full 5-day week of military flying, but having nonetheless the longest sunny days that I have ever experienced in the land of the rising sun since my first trip there.
After the usual flight on-board Lufthansa's A340 from Munich to Tokyo Narita, which was interestingly exactly the same aircraft as during my last trip (D-AIGN), I saw once again my name written on the board just after leaving the aircraft. This was also the case after the arrival in December and served to remind that my next domestic flight was leaving from Haneda, but this time Narita was our final destination - however I saw my name once again?!
The reason for this was that "we are sorry to tell you, but your luggage is missing". Fortunately they already knew that even before the aircraft had landed…
On the way to the lost luggage counter I already thought about the "when and what and where to get it", as we did not have an exact schedule for this trip. But fortunately the suitcases arrived, and only our two stepladders were missing. This was a bit hard to explain to the personnel, but they were really friendly and helpful and agreed to send them to Sendai, where we would pick them up the next day.
So we left Narita without our stepladders to the youth hostel in Sendai and the navigation system proposed us to use the motorway the whole time, nearly going the all the way South to Tokyo before heading North to our final destination. I am not sure if this was the best and fastest way, but at least the most expensive due to the highway toll... Anyway, this time we even had been given an English explanation of the otherwise completely Japanese navigation system – another sign of change in the land of the rising sun.
As the sky was completely grey at our arrival and it was even raining a bit, there was no need to have a look at the visitors deck and we directly started the smooth drive on the motorway. While going North the sky fortunately cleared up and a first food stop along the way was urgently needed to recover a bit from the driving and the long flight.
With the navigation the hostel in Sendai was found without problems and I wondered how we managed to find this place the first time?! Fortunately the place did not change at all and is by far the best hostel I have ever 'experienced' in Japan. Our host already expected us a he got a call from Narita saying that our ladders would arrive next midday at Sendai. Excellent service and organisation!
Before going to bed we had a hot bath and fell quickly asleep on the tatamis.
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- Category: Air Forces
- Published: 20 April 2009
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