Just Booked: Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in April for Cherry Blossoms

Thanks to Frequent Miler for posting this “Quick Deal!”

It certainly did go quick.

I saw Business Class award availability shrink away from me with the Wicked Witch of the East’s shoes when the house fell on top of her.

But First Class seats were still there – at least 2 of them – and I thought, you know, whatever. And just did it. DFW-NRT First Class on American Airlines. And ITM-NRT-DFW coming back.

At least I got in on this one during its prime time unlike the ~$747 AA Business Class ticket to Barcelona (which still ended up being a very good deal).

This trip cost 62,500 American Airlines miles each way, but I got back 10,000 miles for having the Citi AA credit card.

In total, I paid 120,000 American Airlines miles round-trip.

I wish it were on JAL, or Cathay Pacific, instead of AA, but oh well. It’s in the middle of cherry blossom season. I hope these dates are lucky so I’ll be able to see cherry blossoms during Japan’s spring.

By the numbers

Y’all know I love running numbers after the fact.

These flights would've cost over $7,000

These flights would’ve cost over $7,000

I added in a domestic flight on JAL found on BA.com.


~$7,179 to be precise

At retail, these flights would’ve cost ~$7,179.

Jay is going, too. He added on a DFW-LGA segment in Biz for $0 extra, so his got even more value from his miles.


Business Class cost on the same flights

And booking First was a great way to redeem them.  I got 6 cents of value out of each one, which is triple my minimum for redeeming miles.

It’s nothing like the 12-14cpm some folks have gotten. But the dates worked. And I’ve also wanted to visit Tokyo for a long time. So for me, it’s worth it.


No hotels in Tokyo were available with points. Like, nothing. So I settled for the Hilton Tokyo‘s paid rate.

Literally so excited

Literally so excited

Room rates were pretty high – ~$499 a night. But I booked a refundable room rate via Citi Travel Concierge, so will get the 4th night free. Between Jay and me, it works out to ~$748 per person for 6 nights in Japan, or ~$125 per night. The last 2 nights in Osaka are free with IHG points.

And it’s all able to be canceled, so I’ll be on the lookout for ways to get this number down.

I mostly booked these to prevent the price from going up any more. Because the other chain hotels I looked at were even higher. And I presume it’ll keep going up closer to time because it’s an extremely popular time to visit.

And, there’s always Airbnb.

The wrench now is that… well, a funny thing happened.

The Citi agent misspelled my last name. So I called Hilton to correct it.

The Hilton rep changed my room rate to a Triple points room rate.


The Hilton agent upped my room rate to 3X points

And there’s also the Double Points promo running through the end of April.

So according to the Hilton Points Calculator, I’ll get 16,440 base points for the stay.

  • Triple base points would be 49,320 points
  • Plus another 16,440 points with the Double Points promo
  • Plus another 16,440 points for being Hilton Diamond

That adds up to 82,200 Hilton points for the stay.  Pretty cool – I could squeeze at least 2 nights out of mid-tier property with that. Or more at a lower-tier hotel.

Not to mention the free breakfast and access to the Executive Lounge I’ll get for having Diamond elite status.

And the 3X Citi ThankYou points I’ll get from booking with Citi Prestige.  And if I decide to keep these rates as-is, I’ll add it to my Citi Prestige by the Numbers page before I go.

Bottom line

I’m heading off to Martinique next week and already have another trip to look forward to. So excited for Japan! My first time in Asia.

I’m proud of what I was able to cobble together in a couple of hours.

It’s not Cathay Pacific First Class and I didn’t get to burn any Hilton points or pull any other aspirational-type shenanigans. But when it came down to it, I saw this as a way to visit Japan during a busy time.

And, all things considered, I got a good price.

I’ll be on the lookout for cheaper accommodations.  But I’m pleased with the flights. And glad to be off-loading these AA miles to Asia, too. Because starting March 22, 2016, these flights will cost even more.

Did anyone else book a flight and burn some American Airlines miles?

Let me know if you’ve stayed at the Hilton Tokyo, too – I’d love to find cool things to do in the neighborhood or nearby!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. So jealous! I love Japan, it’s one of my favorite countries and that’s a great time to visit, I hear, although the crowds are annoying I’m sure.

    In Tokyo you should stay in or near Shinjuku Ni-Chome. Lot’s of great gay bars.

    If you can make it to Kyoto, it’s a stunningly beautiful city with the temples.

    • The Hilton Tokyo is in Shinjuku. That was also a deciding factor. 😉

      I plan on trying for a day trip to Kyoto because it’s only an hour away by train. If I got up and headed out by 9am, I could stay all day and look at the temples. Then go back in the evening. That’s the one thing I filed under “Just Wing It.”

      Re: crowds. Meh. It’ll be annoying, sure, but I expect it. I’ll be on the lookout for spots of solace though!

      Can’t wait to get there!

  2. My stay at the Hilton Tokyo was better than expected. I had the Reserve cc so actually got upgraded to a room that gave me access to the lounge due to Hilton Gold. It’s not as nice as the Conrad for sure, but for a Hilton property in that area I would definitely head back. It was a bit busy but their service didn’t lack.

    It’s not too far from the Yamanote Line, either. Maybe a 10-15min walk. But in mid-April the weather is going to be great so it’ll feel like a nice walk.

    Enjoy yourself!

    • Nice, great to hear! Yeah the prices on the Conrad were ridic. Maybe next trip!

      I figure the Hilton Tokyo will be a great base for exploring the city. Plus, they have an Executive Lounge and floor there too so I’m hoping for an upgrade.

      Glad to hear you had a good time there – looking forward to it.

  3. It’s always hard to be there when the blossoms are in full bloom and unfortunately it only lasts one week-ish.I try to go every year and the only time I hit it right on the spot was on a trip late March.
    Hope you’ll have luck,enjoy your trip!

    • Thank you!

      You know, I won’t get my hopes up for the cherry blossoms too much. But man, it would be awesome if I was able to time it right.

      Thanks again for the well wishes. Checking out your blog now! 🙂

  4. Good for you! Just booked business class on AA back from Hong Kong for this summer and before the devaluation too. Like you said, I’d prefer Cathay Pacific or JAL, but I reallllly can’t complain. Plus it will be on the new AA 777. Hope you see some blossoms! 😀

    • Lol yup, really can’t complain about our First Class flights! 🙂

      Loving your blog – added to my reading list.

      Looking forward to keeping up with you in the future.

      Fingers crossed for cherry blossoms. If they’re in bloom, expect an explosion of pics on my Instagram (and here)!

  5. Kyoto is much nearer from Osaka. Since you will be visiting and staying in Osaka for a few days, it would be much easier to travel to Kyoto from Osaka than from Tokyo.

    Looks like the cherry blossom for this year will be earlier than usual. Probably mid-march instead of the usual late March to early April. Due to winter ending earlier than usual. Some parts of Tokyo and Chiba already have cherry and plum blossoms.

    While you’re in Japan might as well visit Nikko in Tochigi prefecture (1 hr limited express ride from Shinjuku) and Mt Fuji including Lake Kawaguchiko (around 1 hr limited express ride from Shinjuku). Expect to spend 1 whole day each. These 2 places are covered by either the JR East Pass (though be aware a portion of the train going to Mt Fuji (Kawaguchiko staion) is not covered by JR East Pass or JR Pass but is covered by JR Kanto Pass.

    If you have JR Pass (this is different from JR East Pass or JR Kanto Pass), you can also take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima and visit the A-Bomb Dome of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Itsukushima Shrine (Shrine in the sea). You can actually do this in 1 whole day. Just leave Tokyo station early and try to take the 2nd to the last Shinkansen train out of Hiroshima going to Tokyo. Around 5 hours one way. Or if you can squeeze in the schedule from Osaka it will save you a bit of time.

    If you have enough AVIOS miles, it will only cost you 9,000 Avios miles Haneda to Hiroshima round trip.

    All 4 place to visit are world heritage sites. Don’t waste too much time going around Tokyo.

    Just sharing. I have been living here since 2008.

    Enjoy your trip and stay in Japan.

    • Wow, thank you for this Chris! I’ve added it to my Evernote notebook for the trip. This is some great stuff for interesting day trips!

      Thanks for taking the time to share this. Always better to get tips from a local. 🙂

      Really appreciate this!

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