Time for another Flight Journal and this one is going to be a big one. Microsoft Flight Simulator’s first world update focused on the island nation of Japan and I’ve taken advantage of that update by setting myself up with a series of short and long haul flights across the island nation. I’ve long wanted to visit Japan in person and while 2020 makes that impossible, there’s nothing stopping me from touring around in Flight Simulator. This is my tour of the country starting in the south with Okinawa and working my way north to Hokkaido. I don’t visit every airport or every major city but I get to quite a few! Here’s a recap of my journey from each spot along the way.
Starting with Okinawa
The journey started with a short hop from Kerama (ROKR), a small island airport just off the south western coast of Okinawa. This is one of the updated airports that Asobo added in the update and its an interesting place to fly from.
When I flew this a few months ago, a Typhoon was churning up the waters of the Pacific and causing high winds. Lots of cross wind made for an interesting takeoff.
Then it was off to Naha, one of the main cities on Okinawa, before flying north to Iejima (RORE) airport to end the flight. You may also know this destination as Le Shima, an airbase that was used briefly by the USAAF in the closing months of WWII. I wanted to fly this whole route because I spent a lot of time over Okinawa in the old IL-2 Pacific Fighters. Of course the time period and my purpose for being there were very different but it was fun to revisit the whole area.
Naha to Nagasaki
This next part of the trip I had to start and restart several times. I decided to fly from Naha to Nagasaki and I picked the Cessna Citation Latitude, an aircraft that I really like and that does well over long distances. It didn’t go according to plan. Once the autopilot was on, the aircraft was all over the place and I ultimately ended up landing it at Tokunoshima (RJKN) though not without fighting it and the now completely messed up autopilot and flight control system on the way down. I resumed my flight in a King Air 350i for a short flight before my flight time was interrupted and I diverted the flight to Yakushima (RJFC) under some very low clouds.
For some reason, I never documented the next part of the flight which involved a hop up to Kagoshima (RJKF) on the large and highly populated island of Kyushu and then again on to Nagasaki – it was a long fall. I was probably tired.
Nagasaki to Osaka
For this next flight, I decided to pick the Cessna Citation CJ4. This business jet is part of the standard package and is just as great to fly as the Citation Latitude. The avionics are different and I don’t know them as well yet but this flight let me get acclimated to them a little bit more.
Unlike my past troubles with autopilot, a few more updates had come through and the team at Asobo Studios seemed to have fixed at least some of the problems. My flight was uninterrupted by any errant autopilots trying to crash the plane. The weather on the other hand, was gloomy as we departed Nagasaki and climbed to 30,000 feet over a thin cloud layer at 28,000 feet. The winds were strong and the turbulence intense. Winds caused me to have quite a bit of trouble with the CJ4 on landing at Osaka but I was still able to get some good screenshots in.
A quick sight seeing tour of the Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate
Along the way I wanted to stop off and do a bit of sightseeing on at least one of the many locations that Asobo has added as a point of interest. The Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate is one of the highlights that they have added and its a unique addition to the sim – many of the other points of interest are notable bridges for example. So I hopped into a Diamond DA40NG and flew from Iwakuni airport (RJOI) for a quick flight around the area and back again.
Osaka to Tokyo
This next flight saw me dip my toes back into the Citation Latitude and it turns out that it’s been fixed (or was for me anyways) and is working pretty well right now. On this flight I had no problems climbing out and engaging autopilot on my way from Osaka to Tokyo. I departed Osaka International (RJOO) and set course on a high pressure dominant day with beautiful sun and only some clouds spotted at lower altitudes on the way.
The highlight of the trip was passing by Mount Fuji! This symbol of Japan and one of the most recognizable mountains in the world looks incredible in MSFS and it seems even better after the update. Definitely a wonder to see!
Then it was on to another high quality airport with the Hadena Tokyo International airport (RJTT) as my destination. Located on reclaimed land in Tokyo bay, it’s a fun airport to fly in and out of with quite a bit of detail all around and several runways. There’s typically a lot of player and AI traffic in the area too.
The Tokyo skyline tour
Another short flight I made was to do a little sight seeing over Tokyo. It’s something I did when MSFS came out and I wanted to recreate that flight so I set the clock back to the summer (brighter sunlight is just one consequence of that) and flew over some of the same areas. To my delight, Tokyo looks even better than it did before and there’s lots of bridges, buildings and other key landmarks represented.
I did the flight in the VL3, a fast light sport aircraft that offers great views and zippy performance (relatively speaking) and it was the right choice for this kind of flight. The scenery speaks for itself but I did make a point to visit most of the areas around Tokyo that had some sort of landmark on it before returning to Hadena.
Tokyo to Niigata
I didn’t have much time on the next flight so I flew a short hop from Hadena Tokyo on to the north and in to the city of Niigata and its airport (RJSN). I did this flight around 5:00 pm local time and with some jaw dropping winter skies. By the time the flight was over, the sun had set and the moon was out. Well worth the flight and a good look at the night cockpit lighting in the Citation Latitude.
Niigata to Kushiro
For my final hop, I flew from Niigata (RJSN) to Kushiro Airport (RJCK).
Located on the island of Honshu, Kushiro Airport is yet another airport that Asobo Studios has done at a higher quality level and it frankly looks great. This flight was done in the TBM 930, a favourite of many Flight Simulator pilots. It has the looks, the performance and the capability to fly you in almost anywhere.
The Hachijojima side tour
I wanted to feature one more airport that wasn’t part of my tour into the flight and so I decided that I’d do a short flight around Hachijojima (RJTH). This is a vacation destination with inns, camping and hotsprings and the airport has been given the high end treatment by Asobo. No surprise here, it looks great! It’s also just big enough to support airliners and small enough that GA aircraft can tour the island and neighboring Hachijokojima comfortably.
The Japan World update helped introduce me and others to the skies and scenery of Japan and I’m really glad that they picked Japan as their first location. Diverse scenery, some unique points of interest, and a small collection of premium quality airports, there’s not much negative I could say about it. During my time flying around Japan I noticed the usual quirks in their scenery system with some bridges underwater or represented by slab sides and marinas and other areas near the land to water transition having difficulty fitting in but aside from that there were no areas that weren’t covered by high detailed terrain mesh and high res satellite information.
None of this seemed to impact my performance either and my frame rates over the last couple of patches have been absolutely solid on my now aging system.
I highly recommend doing a few flights in the area if you get the chance!