So I began my journey back to Japan for the first time in four years with the goal of essentially forcing myself into a new sleep cycle so as to be able to fully enjoy myself. I sit before you know at 10:12pm Tokyo Standard Time on April 2, 2010 totally and completely exhausted mentally and physically.
The day started auspiciously with my Mom forgetting that she had no gas in her car, forcing us into trying to find a gas station open at 330am; we ended up doing so. The next sign was that Continental had recently moved from the McNamara terminal to the North terminal at DTW. Because of this, self check-in kiosks were not available. Thankfully I got the airport at a reasonable time because by the time I did that and went through security I basically walked to my gate an onto my flight to Houston.
Flight to Houston was smooth enough, though I had trouble sleeping, related to not being tired. In Houston, things went smooth and the plane took off on time. Somewhere along the line, and likely related the adverse weather conditions in Tokyo, many planes were late landing, including ours. Because of this, more people then usual disembarked and had to go through immigration. This added a 1.5hr delay in getting into Japan (picture).
Next, these same people all wanted a JR Rail Pass, and so it took 45m – 1hr to get that. At this point, I had landed at 245pm TST and it was now 545pm, I really didnt get much sleep on the plane and airplane food is terrible on principal.
The one thing that you have to realize about Japan is, they love technology, so everything involves technology, right down to the doors and toilets. I suppose this automation is designed to help prevent the spread of infection among such a densely populated area, but sometimes I like just having a regular door, its less complicated to operate, especially when you are in a hurry.
So with Rail Pass in hand, I went to board the Narita Express (pictures); a dedicated train connecting Narita to the busiest and most popular districts in the city. The ride was pretty smooth, except for being delayed due to the windy weather.
The ride was very smooth and I highly recommend this as the way to get into Tokyo from Narita. After taking a couple subway stops, which I realized are not included in the Rail Pass deal, I arrived in Ginza, one of the richest area of Tokyo to stay at the local Courtyard by Marriott. This is where all those points I have accumulated working remotely paid off, 4 star hotel (5 maybe) for nothing. Totally awesome and yes Cam, they have a Denny’s 🙂
As tired as I was, I got a call from my friend Dave that he wanted to meet up for Dinner in Shimbashi, which is one subway stop from Higashi-Ginza (where my hotel is located) via the Asakusa line. We had some curry, I didnt each much because at this point I was started to feel very sick for pushing my body so hard. It was great to meet everyone and see Dave and Sam again, looking forward to our journey to Hakone tomorrow.
One thing I wanted to point out that makes Japan cities so different from America is the cleanliness. Because of their upbringing, Japanese simply do not litter and thus that stations are all totally immaculate. Aside from the super busy ones in New York, most stations are like a dump and they have much lower volumes of traffic.
As you would expect, forcing myself into this is having side effects which I am hoping a good nights rest will overcome and prepare me to actually start the vacation tomorrow. I am sure it will be a great trip, though not at all relaxing which is what I both want and dont want. Wish me well