Showing posts from October, 2017

Japanese Suica Card + new iPhones = Japan Points Galore!

I've been debating getting an iPhone 8 before our next Japan trip, but was sorta on the fence. On one hand, I'd like to wait for the X, but on the other hand, I'd love to play with the 8's support for an AppleWallet version of the Japanese Suica card. (for the iPhone 7, only models sold in Japan supported Suica; with the 8, all iPhones worldwide do).

Since Suica transit payment card was launched over a decade ago, it's become the standard payment method for nearly all vending machines in the country, and many businesses have added support for their customers to pay at the register with it. Further, any shop within a train station has to accept Suica for payment, and huge numbers of stores in Japan are located within train stations.

So aside from my train nerdery, why does this matter? Because with this new system, visitors can reload their mobile Suica with any ApplePay credit card. (In the past, visitors could only use cash).

Ergo, this means that every subway …

fasting to fight jetlag on our upcoming trip

I've written before about the science behind timed fasting to help your body adjust to a new timezone. We've done this on every long-haul flight since we learned about it, and our own "anecdata" is that it helps significantly.

We're heading to Tokyo soon (via Taipei, which is one hour behind Japan), so we'll start eating our meals by the Tokyo clock while we're still here at home in New York. Research suggests doing this helps your body adjust to the new timezone much quicker. In practice, this often means a 10+ hour stretch of daytime fasting. While that's annoying, it's absolutely worth it to me if it means not wasting two days in Tokyo to grogginess and sleepless nights.

Our flight leaves New York at 1:30am on Tuesday and arrives at 5:15am on Wednesday, so here's the plan:
Monday 9am NYC (10pm Tokyo)
Eat big breakfast first when we wake up in NYC (aka eat "late dinner" Tokyo)

Then fast for 9 hours

Monday 6pm NYC (7am Tokyo)
Eat early …

What, if any, Japan Rail Pass should I get?

It's quite common for visitors to Japan to buy a Japan Rail Pass before they go. It can save you money if your trip is involves lots of rail travel. I've purchased a pass for two of our previous trips, but decided not to on this coming one.

While JR is the biggest railway conglomerate in Japan, there are many private railways that compete with/compliment JR. The Japan Rail Pass works only on JR trains; for lines run by other companies, you'll have to buy a normal ticket like everyone else. The Rail Pass is also valid for travel on JR's urban railways like Tokyo's Yamanote line (you have to use a staffed entrance and show your pass), but not on the subways.

The typical sales pitch of the pass is, "It costs less than one round trip between Tokyo and Osaka". For an Economy Class, 7-Day pass, this is true. But if it's a longer pass, or you spring for the Green Car Business Class pass, the math isn't so simple.

Here's a few thoughts before you tr…

Up to 1500 bonus points using your Chase card with Apple Pay

Chase is running a promo for their smartphone payment systems (ApplePay, Samsung Pay) – one extra point per dollar on transactions between now and Nov 4th. The promo is capped at 1500 bonus points.

I love ApplePay because:

Merchants never have my real card number in their systems so breaches like the one at Target don't affect me.I trust Apple's track record on security vastly more than I do any US retailer's. ApplePay works much faster than the chip readers do at most stores, so if I get an unhelpful employee who doesn't know how ApplePay works, I like to point out to them that it's literally 10 seconds faster than the chip and that usually makes them very happy.If I forget my wallet I can still pay for a taxi, groceries, prescriptions, etc. With the forthcoming Apple Pay Cash app launching, I'll be able to keep this and my Venmo/Paypal-like transactions with friends all in one place.Automated kiosks (like transit ticket machines) that support Apple Pay let yo…