Inspiration of Japan

(This is part 3 of 3. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here)

On the last day of our series of activities as ANA Brand Ambassadors, we got to visit ANA HQ in Shiodome. (I missed the chance to ask the story about ANA Gundam…too bad.)

ANA Gundam

Here, we met with ANA  Inspiration of Japan (IOJ) Project team.

So, what is Inspiration of Japan?

Mr. Jin Kuze, who has designed IOJ has shown us his design concepts.

Below is the IOJ logo. See the orange bars at the top of each “I”?

At first sight, those orange bars look like they’re placed in equal space in between. But they’re not. See the second image.

Why did Mr. Kuze do this?

He told us about Japanese step stones in traditional Japanese gardens. They are usually used “as is” in their natural shapes and sizes and they are never put in even gaps. Do you know why?

It is to create a sense of adventure. Sense of non-routine. Because the stones are not in perfectly equal spaces, you need to pay attention to your steps… or you might trip. This creates a sense of adventure in what would be a mandane, boring task of merely “walking”. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Mr. Kuze told us this “Invitation to the extraordinary” is a very Japanese concept of hospitality. Think of the Japanese tea house, where you create a completely different world with seasonal flower, calligraphy scroll on the wall, etc. in the small room.

This seasonal flower concept is integrated in the tray mat for the in-flight meals on IOJ. The flower will change every season.

These details are so subtle you probably won’t even notice them until you read about it but I think that is the very essence of Japanese culture. It’s so not in-your-face.

As I wrote in Part 1 of this series, the services on IOJ was exceptional. Yet there was nothing pushy about it. And that, is the Inspiration of Japan.



Adventure Begins with an A…ANA

Welcome drink on board

What is the first thing that come to your mind when you think of Japan? Sushi, Kimono, or Ninja?!

As part of the social media campaign for their latest service, “Inspiration of Japan”, my friend Neal Schaffer and I became their Brand Ambassadors for ANA – All Nippon Airways.  Neal and I have been working since November on this campaign, and it was finally time for us to fly to Narita with an IOJ.

I’m writing this post from consumer’s perspective. I’ve written about it in my first post about IOJ, but as a frequest flyer to Japan from North Ameria, the comfort during my trip home is very important. I love traveling and flying, but let’s be honest, flying takes so much toll on you. I flew back to my home town of Sasebo last month and I was exhausted.

So I was very excited to try this new IOJ services. Our seats were called “Business Staggered“- Because each seat was staggared and every seat has an aisle access-I love that.

You can rest your tired heet there

The cabin for IOJ was amazing. Plenty of room to store your personal items, like your laptop or a purse. There are a deep pocketed foot rest under your entertainment system so you can fully stretch your legs with your shoes off. (Of course, they provide slippers, shoehorn, and a bag to take your slippers home!) You have a side desk other than your normal tray, so I got to keep all my magazines, camera and water bottle there. There are USB port and iPod jack, so you can enjoy your own media if you get tired of all the entertainment available on your personal screen. (I actually watched a short documetary on how their latest aircraft Boeing 787 came together and got a little misty. True story. I will be writing about 787 later.)

Here’s a quick video of me experiencing IOJ. (Sorry it’s a bit noisy)

Neal wasn’t the only partner I had on this trip. John P. and Cali Lewis from GeekBeat.TV were also the ambassadors, and they flew in from San Francisco. Unlike Neal, who has lived in Japan for 15 years and speaks fluent Japanese, this was John and Cali’s first time in Japan. I got to spend a lot of time with them in Tokyo, and not only it was fun, but it brought me a lot of insights. I got to see Japan through first time visitor’s eyes, and that was definitely a cool experience.

Cali, John and me

One of the things John said and it stuck with me was “There is so much attention to details!“…Of course, I knew that. I have always been proud to be Japanese and proud to offer extreme attention to details. But by spending time with John and Cali, I rediscovered many things with a lot of attention to details, and of course, IOJ was no exception.

The food and presentation was amazing

I have flown to Japan many times before, but the minute you board ANA flight, it just feels different. When I sat down, my Cabin Attendant came to me to hand me a warm steamed towel and introduced herself that she would be taking care of me today. She soon came back to ask how to pronounce my name, so that she can personally address me as “Ms. Peerless”. I really wish I got her name and took a photo of her, as she was the best CA I have ever encountered.  She quickly figured out what kind of drinks I like and made some excellent recommendations. It sure was the highlight of my flight.

I got to use the full flat seat to have a nap on the flight, and soon we arrived in Narita, Tokyo, where many adventures were waiting for us.

(To be continued in Part 2)






ANA’s New Inspiration of Japan Services

LA Social Media heavy hitters 🙂

Do you fly often? Being a Japanese living in Canada, I go back home probably every other year. And that 10-hour flight can really drain you. Comparing airline experience is a pretty common thing among my Japanese friends living here. And even though I don’t go to Japan so often, flying has become part of my lifestyle. I love flying, and I like to do it as much as possible if it takes me to places I’d love to visit.

So you can imagine my excitement when ANA(All Nippon Airways) asked me to be their Brand Ambassador for their latest cabin services, Inspiration of Japan(IOJ)!

I attended ANA’s VIP launch event on Novemer 9th in LA. They had mock-ups of each class-First, Business and Economy.   You can see the detailed specs for each classes here, but here is the summary:

ANA Business Class -Inspiration of Japan

ANA FIRST SQUARE : Features taller-than normal partitions that enhances personalized spaces, 180 degrees full flat seat,(Yes, you can actually lie down.) World’s largest-in-class 23 inch LCD widescreen, Ample storage

ANA BUSINESS STAGGERED:  Features perfectly staggered layout so that every seat has an aisle access, 180 degrees full flat seat, World’s largetst-in-class 17 inch widescreen

-Economy Class features “Fixed Back Shell” seat where the seat slides forward without disturbing the passenger behind you, and footrest!

All class seats are equipped with iPod connector and USB port so that you can enjoy your own music or use your laptop. Oh, and First and Business class are equipped with Washlets(Fancy Japanese style toilet)…’s SO Japanese, isn’t it? (Sorry, I had to mention this.)

I had a great time at the launch event. It was great to meet many social media friends from LA area. We got to try each class mock-ups and check them out…I was particularly excited with their new economy class, as that’s I’m most likely to use. Footrest and sliding seats are such a great idea..Hello!

My friend Neal Schaffer is my partner on this LA-Narita route of Inspiration of Japan.

Neal and me

We are flying to Japan in February on the Business Class with Cali Lewis and John Pozadzides from GeekBeat TV! It’s going to be one heck of a trip….I CAN’T WAIT!

Calvin Lee @Mayhemstudios and @Mikeuesugi

Inspiration of Japan services will start its Los Angeles – Narita route, operated with the Boeing 777-300ER on January 21, 2012.

For more information about ANA’s Inspiration of Japan services, check their website.