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Giving Nonstop Flights to Tokyo an Upgrade

United is rolling out its newest aircraft—with the Polaris business class seat—on nonstop flights from Newark to Tokyo this fall. Here’s what to do when you touch down.

Giving Nonstop Flights to Tokyo an Upgrade

United’s new Polaris business class.

It takes 14 hours to fly nonstop from New York’s Newark airport to Tokyo’s Narita airport. While that isn’t changing anytime soon, it will be time better spent starting on October 28, when United introduces service on its Boeing 777-300ERs. This latest aircraft type features efficient and stylish interiors by design firm PriestmanGoode, including Economy Plus seats for extra legroom and the all-new Polaris business class seats—a truly luxurious and sleep-enhancing experience.

Each Polaris seat, better described as a pod, features direct access to the aisle and an 180-degree flat-bed measuring 6'6'’ long and 23” wide with infinite seat recline options and one-touch lumbar support. Luxurious and private, these seats are also equipped with a 16-inch high-definition entertainment screen. Booking a Polaris seat also gets you access to amenities like cooling gel pillows and mid-flight drinks and snacks from a marble-topped bar.

Traveling in such comfort and style means you’ll feel more energized when you land and be more prepared to maximize your time in this fascinating metropolis. Whether you gravitate to art, history, design, shopping or food, you’ll find plenty to keep you satisfied in Tokyo—equally famous for its early-morning Tsukiji Market, the eye-popping fashions of Harakuju, and traditional shrines and tea ceremonies.

One great way to begin exploring is by taking a morning stroll through Aoyama, an elegant neighborhood full of tiny laneways lined with cafés and boutiques. Grab a coffee at Café Kitsune, preferably in the bamboo-filled courtyard, and swing by the popular Aoyama Grower’s Market, if you’re in town on a Saturday or Sunday. For lunch, seek out soba (buckwheat) noodle paradise that is Kaoriya in Ebisu. The tiny shop is a real local find, with a Japanese-only menu, a communal table, and homemade noodles on long wooden trays with all sorts of delectable accompaniments.

Nezu Museum Garden

Nezu Museum Garden

Credit: Flickr/David Baron

For a culture-filled afternoon, head to the Roppongi neighborhood and begin at the National Art Center, one of the largest exhibition spaces in Japan. It’s considered an empty museum as all the exhibitions are temporary, such as the “Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul” show in early 2017. Celebrated Japanese architect Tadao Ando is the subject of a just-opened exhibit this fall. Next, walk over to the nearby Nezu Museum, which features pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. Its garden is a tranquil urban oasis, with traditional landscaping, stone lanterns, and a teahouse.

Wrap up your day over dinner at Shimada, an intimate, affordable restaurant in the otherwise upscale Ginza neighborhood. It’s the brainchild of Hiroshi Shimada, who formerly worked at three-Michelin-starred Azabu Yukimura. There are no seats here, just room for 14 diners to stand at the counter—and to put their faith in the chef’s recommendations.

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