JAL Sakura Lounge, NRT – a solid 7 out of 10

01. Introduction: 13,733 amazing miles in Japan Airlines business class
02. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) San Diego to Tokyo (Narita)
03. Japan Airlines 737-800 business class Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing
04. St Regis Hotel, Beijing
05. 3 ways this trip to Beijing was exactly like the Apollo 13 mission to the moon
06. BGS Premiere Lounge, PEK
07. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Sky Suite) Beijing to Tokyo (Haneda)
08. Royal Park Hotel THE Haneda
09. Haneda to Narita transfer bus
10. JAL Sakura Lounge, NRT
11. Japan Airlines 787-8 business class (Shell Flat Neo) Tokyo (Narita) to San Diego

Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this blog, you are very familiar with The Amazing Race. For those that have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a reality TV show featuring 11 teams of two people in a race around the world. Each team must pass a series of obstacles and tasks in each of the twelve legs, and it’s generally pretty good entertainment. I don’t watch it as much as I used to, but it still remains one of my favorite television shows of all time and I’ve always secretly dreamed about trying out for it.

Unfortunately, I know myself all too well and I am 100% certain that I would fail miserably and be the first contestant to finish dead last in the very first stage of the race. I could probably go on for pages and pages explaining why I believe such a thing to be true, but all I need to say is this: I walked by the entrance to this JAL Sakura Lounge three times before I finally found it, completely and totally missing that huge JAL Sakura Lounge sign hanging right there on the wall less than 10 feet away from me each time I walked by.

JAL Sakura Lounge entrance

In my defense, you couldn’t possibly disagree with me that the main entrance to the JAL Sakura Lounge looks exactly like a bank of elevators. Right?

JAL Sakura Lounge Sign

However, I have no excuse for missing this huge (and glittery) sign on the wall. Other than being an idiot of course…

I could clearly see the location of the lounge on the map, and the nice lady at the information desk did well to point me in the right direction, but I swear to God that I’m woefully obtuse when it to comes to directions and wayfinding. I’ve got some really embarrassing stories to tell about not being able to find something when it was right there in front of me the whole time, but for the sake of keeping any ounce of dignity that I have remaining, I choose to remain silent on that for now.

JAL Sakura Lounge entrance

I cannot believe that I actually walked by this three times without noticing. Any hopes and dreams I had of being a world-renown detective (with my own TV show) have been completely squashed.

I was feeling quite ashamed of myself as I was walking through the main entrance, but thankfully the staff was cheery and bright, helping me to brighten my mood and get me ready for some serious lounging. Oh – it should be noted that the first and business class lounges share the same entrance, but don’t worry about not knowing which way to go. Those ladies at the front desk know all, and all you have to do is just go wherever they point.

JAL Sakura Lounge Nrt

Being sent to the basement to enter a lounge used to give me bad feelings, but that all changed after my recent experience at The Bridge. Now I love going downstairs!

The first order of business once inside was to find some lunch. The kitchen is on the upper level, which came as a bit of a relief after my first scan of the entire floor plan and not seeing anything other than drinks and light snacks on the main level. But once I realized that the good stuff was upstairs, it was a mad dash up that grand staircase.

JAL Sakura Lounge grand staircase

I’ll get to the rest of the lounge in the moment, but first it’s time to go back upstairs and eat!

To be completely honest, I’m thinking that perhaps my expectations were a bit too high because I didn’t find the food to be anything amazing. Yes, there were a few hot dish options, but I was kind of hoping for sushi and there was none to be had. Instead, all I found was very heavy comfort food such as teriyaki chicken, macaroni and cheese, and some sort of beef or pork product that I couldn’t quite identify. Of course there was plenty of steamed rice and miso soup on hand, but I was totally bummed about the sushi thing.

JAL Sakura Lounge food

The food station. No sushi chefs? Bummer. There weren’t even any fish swimming around in elaborate fish tanks that I could point cruelly into and say “I’ll take the fat one hiding under the rock!” This wasn’t quite exactly what I was expecting.

JAL Sakura Lounge lunch

Comfort food hearty enough to satisfy a cowboy from the plains of Texas (who had been on the trail for three days straight).

SANspotter selfie NRT

Feeling like I needed a cowboy hat after a down-home meal like that. Where’s my horse to San Diego?

JAL Sakura Lounge seating

By the way, there were some really nice little nooks and crannies up here in the cafeteria which were awesome for plane spotting. I sat here for a few minutes before getting annoyed at the air conditioning vent directly overhead. It looked like a nice place to sit, but it wasn’t.

JAL Sakura Lounge Interior

That row of seating on the left is where I chose to move to so that I could enjoy some plane spotting with the rest of my meal.

JAL Sakura Lounge cafeteria

This upper section consisted of two main rooms, both offering tons of open seating and places to stuff your face just inches away from complete strangers.

JAL Sakura Lounge Seats

That’s the other section of the upper level, but it was farther away from the food and therefore not an option for me. Never lose sight of the food!

I still had plenty of time before my flight to San Diego was scheduled to begin boarding, so I took my time eating and ended up stuffing myself more than I should have. It was good though, so I wasn’t complaining.

I also wasn’t complaining about how empty this lounge was today. The JAL Sakura Lounge here at NRT is simply massive, but for some reason or another it was completely empty and I essentially had it all to myself. There were a handful of other people who came and went during the few hours that I spent in there that afternoon, but for the most part it was as quiet as a library and it ended up being a really nice place to sit and relax.

JAL Sakura Lounge Interior

The lower level was absolutely huge, and quite possibly one of the largest business class lounges that I’ve ever seen.

JAL Sakura Lounge Chairs

It was eerily quiet in here today, and I couldn’t help but to feel thankful for that. I can’t imagine how nuts it would be in here if everyone of these seats were occupied.

JAL Sakura Lounge Chair

I shit you not that I felt an urge come over me to count every single chair in here and report that information back to you. I’m kicking myself now for not doing it.

JAL Sakura Lounge Nrt interior

There had to be 250 chairs in here easy. Dang it, now I want to go back and count them all!

JAL Sakura Lounge bar

How bummed would I have been if I came here looking forward to a giant margarita before my flight? There was absolutely no action here at the bar this afternoon.

SANspotter selfie JAL Lounge

Orange juice is more my flavor anyway. Here I am taking a much needed break from being tormented by the temptation to count all those chairs.

JAL Sakura Lounge snack bar

This is one of the snack stations here on the lower level. Drinks are along the back wall, and light snacks are provided on this island here upfront.

JAL Sakura Lounge drinks

Drinks aplenty here along the back wall, but sadly there was no margarita mix to be found.

JAL Sakura Lounge open seating

After that quick snack, it was time to scrounge around for another place to sit and relax. Thankfully I had plenty of choices this afternoon!

JAL Sakura Lounge Tables and chairs

Nah. Too dark.

JAL Sakura Lounge NRT

Perfect! This is where I spent my last 1.5 hours in this lounge, right next to a big window overlooking all the action out there on the ramp. Check out that weirdo trying to sneak a pic of me…

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give this lounge a solid 7. It would’ve been an 8 or a 9 if fresh sushi was offered, but perhaps they only serve the good stuff like that over in the first class lounge. All the more reason to up my lounge game I guess…

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