Saturday, October 7, 2017

Japan | The Adventure Begins

On Thursday Sept 21, at 10:30 am, my mom drove me to the airport. I had purchased a return ticket to Japan just days before.

(Because if you can't be random and spontaneous at this stage of life, when can you?)

I arrived at the Narita Airport on Friday evening at 5 pm.

The was the easy part of the trip.
The next phase (getting from the airport to the hotel) required more thought.

Sue had purchased Japan Rail vouchers for us in Canada, and they needed to be transferred to Japan Rail passes when we arrived. (Sue was ahead of me on this trip, she'd flown to Vietnam a week earlier and was meeting me in Tokyo.) She sent me a pic, a few days prior:

along with the instructions to 'go down 2 levels at the airport and transfer your voucher here.'

Travel with Sue when you can. 
Step by step instructions complete with photos. 
Easy peasy.

I made a stop at the airport bathroom first:

... where the toilets have many flushing options, all dependent on how much water you want sprayed on your bum.


I handed the clerk my voucher, she gave me my pass. 
I told her I was trying to get to Shinagawa station. She made reservations for me on the express train which left 13 minutes later and pointed in the direction I was to walk. 

SO. Very. Organized. 

She told me which track, which train car, and which seat. 
And everything was labeled just so. 
And everyone stood in lines, waiting their turns. 

And reserved seats on (green) train cars (green = for tourists) are spacious and comfortable and heavenly. And announcements are made in English. The seats are W I D E and recline and have foot rests and outlets and free wifi and retractable tables and I cannot say enough good things about JR trains. 

About an hour later, just as I arrived at the Shinagawa train station (just outside of Tokyo), I get another message from Sue:

It's pouring rain. LIKE REALLY. As if a shower faucet has been turned on and there's no issue with water pressure. So I after I navigate my way out of the train station, (this is no small fete. Train stations are huge. There are 4 exits. And if you take the wrong one, you will end up in Hong Kong or Spain) I stop moving, and under an awning on the sidewalk with 10,000 pedestrians swarming around me, I open my suitcase and dig past my underwear to find my umbrella. If I'm to stand at a bus stop, I'm not going to look like a drowned rat who is growing out her bangs. 

With my camera in one hand, and my umbrella, laptop satchel and suitcase in the other, I find the bus stop then ask every bus driver who pulls up if he's going to the Marriott. Eventually one did. 

I met Sue in our room, listened to her talk about her day (she'd flown to the North island and back and had stories...) then we headed out for a late dinner.

Know what's cool about restaurants in Japan?
They have plasticized display versions of all their meals available for viewing in their front windows. Along with photos in their menus. They're making it simple as stink to visit their country. It's like they want tourists to come.

(This was true for all restaurants in every city we visited.)
(So don't be afraid to visit Japan and think you'll mistakenly order eel or something. I had a pork cutlet (or maybe it was chicken?) with rice and curry gravy and it was good.)

We stopped for snacks at the 7-11:

... then called it a night.

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