Getting to Iwakuni
Via the Patriot Express
If you are PCSing to Iwakuni, chances are you will take the Patriot Express from the States. This is by far the easiest means to travel to Iwakuni when moving your family half-way around the world, especially if you have a lot of luggage.
After several hours of travel and a few stops, you will arrive at the Iwakuni Base Terminal. Upon arrival, (hopefully you have already arranged a pick-up at the Terminal), you should get to the TLF so you can check in to your temporary quarters.
Once settled in your TLF room, but before crashing from jet-lag, the Base Housing Office should be your next stop. It is here where you will find out your fate... i.e. your timeline for housing. Options for housing in Iwakuni include on-base housing (in Mid-Rise buildings or Townhomes) or off-base housing in Japanese houses or mansions (what americans would call apartments, but these are not typical American apartments). Check out the Housing page for more details.
Recently, there was a housing shortage in Iwakuni. Since the last PCS season though, many Civilian Contractors and DOD employees have moved off-base, freeing up on-base housing for military families. If you are moving to Iwakuni and have a pet, but really want to live on base, you may consider leaving your pet behind for this tour. Housing has strict rules about offers turned down due to pets. There is a chance you might have to live off base if moving to Iwakuni with a pet. Many people do live off-base and prefer it. But, if you are one that desires on-base housing and have a pet, you will have to weigh your options.
Via Tokyo Narita Airport
For families, friends, or anyone traveling to Iwakuni via commercial airlines, below are simple instructions for navigating Tokyo Narita Airport.
At some point during your long flight, the flight attendants will pass out two forms (an immigration form and a customs form) that you will need when arriving in Japan. Not to worry, you will have plenty of time to complete these forms during your trip across the Pacific Ocean.
When you arrive in Tokyo you will have to go through/to:
- Baggage Claim
- Bus to take you to the terminal check in
This may seem confusing at first since many signs are in Japanese. However, if you look closely, you will see that all the airport signs include English. Slow down, check the smaller print, and you should able to understand the signs as you would in any other airport.
First, follow the signs that will take you to domestic connecting flights. There will be an immigration line there. Make sure you get in the “Foreign Passports” line. Once you reach the front of the line, you will need your passport and the longer form (of the two received on the flight).
Once you get through Immigrations, follow the signs to Baggage Claim. You can check the huge information board that will be in front of you as you arrive at baggage claim. If you see nothing but Japanese writing, wait a couple of seconds and it will change to English.
After you pick up your baggage, proceed to Customs where they will need to see the shorter form and your passport. After getting through there, exit to the lobby (there is only one way out at this point).
Here will see many signs. Your objective is to catch the bus to Terminal 1 for Domestic Departures. If you need help, look for the bit question mark (?) Information booth. They should be able to speak decent English.
Otherwise, go out side and look for Bus Stop number 8. It will take you to Terminal 1.
Once you’re on the bus, it may make a couple stops. However, stay on the bus until it gets to Terminal 1 for Domestic Departures. Most likely there will be a few other Americans on the bus as well. They, too, will most likely be heading to Domestic Departures.
Once you arrive at Terminal 1, proceed to the left to Domestic Departures check-in counter on the first floor. After checking-in, your gate will most likely will be C and you will have to take the escalator up.
Keep going down the long hallway until you reach the security checkpoint. Go through Security and follow the stairs down to the gates.
When your flight is ready to board, it will be called for boarding and you will get onto a bus. They will drive you to the plane and after a short flight, you will arive in Hiroshima.