I typically prefer to travel out of Haneda Airport instead of Narita International Airport - the latter is further from the city, older and definitely a lot busier than the former. However, as I wanted to make full use of my Japan Airlines Business Class flight redemption using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles, I decided to travel from Japan to Taipei on the way back on the second segment of my trip. Unfortunately, the only flights operated by Japan Airlines between Tokyo and Taipei originate from Narita International Airport.
As it was Sakura season in Tokyo, all the hotel room rates were going through the roof - as such, I have decided to redeem some of my World of Hyatt points for a room at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo. At just 12,000 points for a regular room and 17,000 points for a Regency Club room, using your points during a period of extraordinary demand is an excellent idea - I went for the latter since I do not hold any significant status in the World of Hyatt program. Getting from the Hyatt Regency Tokyo to Narita International Airport is fairly easy on the airport limousine bus but the journey takes over an hour so make sure you plan your time accordingly. As a Business Class passenger on Japan Airlines, I had access to the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge which is located on Level 3 of the main building (there is also another lounge in the Satellite Building).
The Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge is open from 7:30AM to 10:00PM every day and it is massive - do note that if you are flying First Class, there is a separate lounge (which serves up made-to-order sushi!) that you can visit but unfortunately, I was only in Business Class this time. I really like how much natural light the Sakura Lounge enjoys and how the seats are mostly located near the windows for travellers to take in the views and sights. Any aviation geek would be excited to be here since there are plenty of photography opportunities throughout the lounge. With that being said, I have always tried to avoid taking photos when there are others around so I have tried my best to find angles that worked.
If you prefer a quieter area to get some work done (not that it ever gets noisy in a Japanese airport lounge), there are areas in the Sakura Lounge where the human traffic is lower - these are located in the corners of the lounge and there is usually a small snack and self-service area for you to get simple things like cookies and coffee.
I have flown on Japan Airlines on multiple occasions and I really do enjoy their SKY SUITE III Business Class product (they have also replaced that miserable pillow on my latest flight from Singapore to Haneda). This time however, I was going to fly on a narrow-body plane from Tokyo to Taipei so I was pretty curious to know how that would turn out.
It goes without saying that there are various different seating configurations located throughout the lounge and following the main reception area is where you will find seats suitable for solo travellers. The leather seats are comfortable and charging ports (as well as power outlets) can be found here for you to keep your devices juiced up before the flight.
What most people will probably care most about is the selection of food - while there are snack stations located on the lower floor of the lounge, it is important to take note that the main dining area (where real food is actually being offered) is actually located on the mezzanine level. You will not miss the flight of stairs leading up to the dining area but if you do need an alternative way to get up, you may also take the lift located around the corner to help you get up easily.
The dining area of the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge was incredibly busy when I got up - the staff actually had to help travellers find a table (the photo above was taken before I left the lounge when it was relatively less busy). I really like the communal dining tables here in the lounge and how there is a USB charging port located in front of each seat. Dining alone in Japan always seem like such a socially-acceptable thing to do (I feel a little uncomfortable when I dine alone in some other cities in particular) and I really do envy them for having that.
If this is your first time to a proper airport lounge in Japan (and I mean one operated by either ANA or Japan Airlines), you should definitely try the Japanese Curry while you are there - this is usually offered throughout the day (even during breakfast!). Since I visited the lounge in the morning, they had plenty of breakfast items on the buffet table so I could not resist getting a bowl of Tonjiru (essentially pork soup) to go with the rice. Japanese rice is amazing and there is just not much more I can say about it.
If you are feeling snackish, there are also smaller items that you can pick from - I went straight for the Japanese Taiyaki (with azuki-filling) as well as some hashbrown. Obviously there is no shame in getting a beer as well (regardless of time) so feel free to pour yourself a drink. Technically, if you are getting a beer, the machine will be pouring you a perfect one so you do not have to worry about that.
Even though the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge was fairly busy when I visited, there was definitely sufficient space for travellers to find their spot (without having to be sandwiched between two random strangers). I do like how much natural daylight the lounge enjoys and the food is great as always. Flying out of Narita International Airport is certainly not my first option since it requires me to wake up much earlier for the flights but honestly, it was not half as bad as I thought it would be.