Mrs. Selfish and I decided to take our Selfish Year journey as an end cap to our fading young-adult years. We had always enjoyed traveling as young professionals, and decided a year abroad together would be a great way to “get it out of our systems” prior to having a kid.
Boy were we wrong.
A year later and I’m more addicted to traveling than ever. In fact, after settling in San Francisco, we ended up spending over 3 of the next 15 months outside of the country.
So when we found out Mrs. Selfish was pregnant, I immediately did what any other miles & points enthusiast would do in my shoes and started planning Baby Selfish’s first international trip.
Yep, back to Japan!
This will be our fourth trip to Japan, one of my favorite countries. We chose Japan for Baby Selfish’s first trip for a number of reasons: it’s clean and safe, the people are friendly and ridiculously polite, it’s a direct flight from SFO, and THE YEN IS TANKING LIKE A MOFO.
During our first trip to Japan back in November 2010 the dollar was worth a wallet-pounding 82 yen. Ouch. The two times we visited in 2013 it was roughly 102 yen per dollar.
Now it’s an outstandingly cheap 120 yen per dollar (with analysts predicting it bottoming out near 130)! That’s nearly a 66% discount from our first visit. Who’d have thunk it?
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan now is the time, people.
As an added bonus, we’re also bringing along Mrs. Selfish’s parents – Ma and Pa Selfish. This is their first time going to Japan, so it should be an exciting time for everyone.
Booking the Flights
For the trip Mrs. Selfish and I decided to deplete our reserve of AA miles, to the tune of 400,000 AA miles for 4 business class tickets. Japan Airlines just updated the SFO-HND route back in June 2014, so business class availability was wide open. Needless to say, the routing is quite simple for Mrs. Selfish, Baby Selfish, and myself.
SFO – HND, ITM-HND-SFO. Easy-peasy.
Both long-haul flights are after midnight, so fingers crossed that Baby Selfish (who will be 3 months old at the time) will be passed out.
Where Mrs. Selfish’s and my tickets cost roughly $55 a piece in taxes, Baby Selfish’s ticket will cost a whopping 10% of the rack rate of a business class ticket on JAL. I have yet to pay this fee, since she doesn’t exist yet, but I’m anticipating the ticket costing somewhere between $600 – $800. Kids are expensive!
For 10% here’s hoping the bassinet is made of gold. Comfortable gold.
Ma and Pa Selfish, on the other hand, were only ~$55 per person. What they don’t pay in cash, however, they make up for in routing complexity.
ORF-DFW-SAN-NRT, then ITM-NRT-BOS-PHL-ORF. Yikes!
While not the ideal routing, this will be Ma and Pa Selfish’s first business class international trip. They’re normally pretty reserved, but I’m hoping Japan Airlines wows them with their excellent service, lay flat seats, and steaming bowls of ramen. I could always use the son-in-law brownie points!
Staying in Tokyo
Mrs. Selfish, Baby Selfish and I arrive at Haneda Airport at 5am. I don’t know about you, but that is sssssuuuupppeer early in the morning. Granted, it will probably feel like 1pm to Baby Selfish, but who knows how comfortable that Japan Airlines bassinet will be?
So like any good dad-to-be I booked us into a room at the Conrad Tokyo the night we’re flying to ensure we have an available room the morning we arrive.
Yeah, it’ll be brighter than that. Also, not pictured: screaming infant.
The Conrad Tokyo is located in the Minato neighborhood of Tokyo, just a short walk away from the Tsukiji fish market.
This is our 4th time to Tokyo and Mrs. Selfish and I have yet to see the tuna auctions. I figure this is probably our best bet since we will be with a jetlagged infant. Should we manage to get in with said infant, we’ll post a full review of the experience.
Not pictured: screaming infant, horrified (but polite) Japanese people.
Mrs. Selfish, Baby Selfish, and I have 2 full days in Japan before Ma and Pa Selfish arrive, at which point we’re moving to our normal base of operations: the Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku.
Using a combination of points and a best rate guarantee, I booked my Selfish Family into a suite for the first two nights, followed by a standard room for nights 3 & 4. Fingers crossed that the awesome folks at the PHT allow us to keep the room for another 2 nights.
I signed up Ma & Pa Selfish for the Chase Hyatt card, so their 4 nights are complimentary. I requested a view room for their 40th anniversary, so fingers crossed that the hotel has the availability.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is one of my favorite hotels in the world, and seems to be a good place to run into celebrities. The last time we stayed here, I spotted The Governator at the fitness center.
Here’s hoping lightning strikes twice! I’m looking at you, Stallone.
Since this is Ma & Pa Selfish’s first time in Tokyo, we plan on taking them to all the usual hotspots: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Akihabara…
Pa Selfish is an electronics fiend!
We’re also hoping to do a day trip to Kamakura. Something we never did despite our 3+ cumulative weeks spent in Tokyo.
Onward… to Kyoto!
From there the 5 of us are hopping on a bullet train to Kyoto, one of my favorite cities in the world.
While there is a Hyatt Regency in Kyoto, Mrs. Selfish and I decided it would be more fun to rent a place for the 5 of us, so we grabbed a 2-bedroom house in Gion.
It’s a pretty traditional joint, but I figure sleeping on a tatami mat will help us attend to Baby Selfish’s needs much faster. Also they have a cedar bathroom, which is pretty key to the whole Japan experience.
With 5 days in Kyoto we plan on hitting the usual suspects: the Inari Shrine, Nara, Kiyomizu, etc… You really can’t go wrong in Kyoto.
After that, we hit the Osaka Airport to fly back to San Francisco via the Haneda airport. The trip itself is pretty simple, pre-Baby Selfish, but who knows how she’ll react?
So what’dya guys think, does this sound like a good trip or are we just crazy?
Anyone have any Japan tips for dealing with infants? Good places to rent strollers near Haneda airport?
The trip is in May, so expect to hear a full trip report (assuming Baby Selfish hasn’t crushed our blogging habits) some time next summer. Until then, Mrs. Selfish and I plan on doing our final 2014 trip report on our unofficial Game of Thrones tour to Northern Ireland & Croatia.