A Travellerspoint blog

Tokyo Days 1-2, Part 1

How To Navigate One of the World's Greatest Cities with Big Time Jet Lag

First & second days: Dick here. Woke up. Climbed out of bed (great bed), looked out the window, surveyed the room strewn with the massive detritus of the newly arrived, found things a bit blurry 'cause my glasses were on the headboard above "my" side of the bed, realized I'd have to walk atop the bed to get to them. Wailed, "I'm already overwhelmed." Room is very handsome, if more than merely a bit on the efficient end of the spectrum. Our organizational skills are quickly resolving the problems of excessive efficiency. Pam's now up, attending to her morning toilette, and our condition should devolve into one of utter chaos momentarily. (Pam: "Where were we keeping dirty laundry?" Me: In a bag in the same drawer as the room safe. [Pam: the ONLY drawer in the room])

I know it's trite, but as with many naive and utterly unprepared first-time visitors to Japan, my initial confrontation with a well appointed Japanese toilet was revelatory. So many buttons to push; so many decisions to make -- "spray," "bidet," "water pressure (+/-"); so many experiences to experience; so many small startling surprises in such a small part of my anatomical geography. And all with a warmed seat. Is this a great country? Or what? P1080695.jpgP1080694__2_.jpg

Fell asleep before the end of game 7 of the Japan series -- the Japanese professional baseball championship final. This year it was between the perennial powerhouse Yomiuri Giants (think NY Yankees dominance in the mythology of the sport) of the Central League, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, of the Pacific League. Woke up to learn that Pam had somehow stayed awake until the very end, and could announce that the Giants had won the championship. My first waking words upon hearing this news were, "that means the Giants are indisputably the world champions of baseball this year." (If you don't get it, you could look it up.) You could also look up the Ham Fighters: You would probably learn that these are not baseball players who fight pigs as a second job in the off season, but rather are baseball "Fighters" in the employ of the Nippon Ham company of Hokkaido.

We are awake, now for a second jet-lagged day preceded by too little sleep. We're still performing our Abbott and Costello organizational routine routinely (where is my xyz? in the closet? there is no closet. oh, yeah.) Ubiquitous Starbucks: Coffee drinks that taste the same from London to New York to Seattle to Jakarta, do not taste the same in Tokyo. [Pam: And they don't offer decaf lattes. The ONLY decaf available is brewed coffee.] Sidewalks with strips of high-contrast yellow small bumps and shallow rails grooved into them to assist the blind. Too little space in an otherwise pretty perfect hotel room. No closet. None. No chest of drawers. One minimalist clothes tree. One wall hook supporting three coat hangers. We're here for nearly a month. [Pam: not in Tokyo, we're not.] Even living out of a suitcase is a challenge, as opening even one of our small suitcases takes up much of the room not already dedicated to the bed, desk, one chair, room safe and refrigerator.
The bathroom is an exception to much of the above, the bathtub is deep and essentially full-sized, the toilet seat is wondrously heated, the mirror doesn't fog and, if the hotel only supplied very small rental cats, there would almost be enough room to swing one by the tail. (Pamela has challenged not only my commitment to the humane treatment of animals, but also my choice of metaphor. To which I respond: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search=room+to+swing+a+cat&title=Special%3ASearch).

Our first day's major event was a long walk to and around the Imperial Palace grounds . . .

Posted by pokano 17:20 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Our Blog, Singapore Air and Arriving in Tokyo

Could It Have Been Any Smoother?

Dick and I are starting our nearly month long trip in Japan today (well, today your time, yesterday Japan time). We named this blog after Jizo, not only because he is the protector of travelers, but for a reason which will become apparent later on in our trip. We'll be posting photos and tales of our experiences as we go along. We hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave comments!

We flew Alaska to LAX first thing Thursday (Nov. 1) morning and took an afternoon flight on Singapore Air in a humongous Airbus 380. We haven't flown Singapore Air since the 1980's. Our flight just reminded us all over again why Singapore Air is often rated the world's best. If we ignore the screaming baby right behind us (referred to as "the devil's spawn" by our seat mate; compare and contrast with the nearly perfect baby across the aisle), it was the nicest economy class flight we've ever had. For the nearly 11 hour flight, we got reasonable leg room (except for the very tall), 2 good hot meals mine included cold soba with all the fixings), unlimited snacks of various kinds on demand (including what Dick said was a yummy tuna wrap, the usual chips, fresh fruit, sandwiches, etc.), lots of beverages, a blanket, a pillow twice the size of the normal airplane pillow, socks, a toothbrush, plus the largest selection of movies, TV shows, documentaries, concerts, etc., that we'd ever seen, all streaming so that you could start them at any time on one's own video screen, topped off by pleasant, attentive cabin staff who catered to our every whim. All included in the price of an economy class ticket, which was the cheapest one I could find to Tokyo. Why can't other airlines be like Singapore?

We both watched a charming Japanese movie called "Rent-a-Cat", about a quirky young Japanese woman who has a house full of cats, which she rents (individually) to people who feel they have a hole in their lives. She pulls them (the cats, not the people) around in a cart, shouting, "Rent a neko!" through a bullhorn Highly recommended, especially if you're a cat person. Here's a trailer from YouTube, unfortunately without the English subtitles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-SUW2qcduQ

We arrived at Narita at 6:32 pm local time and were at our hotel by 9 pm, an hour sooner than our best case scenario. No waiting in any lines for anything, immigration, customs, our baggage, currency exchange. Traffic was smooth all the way into town. But, boy, is it cold in downtown Tokyo!
The bus let us off a 5 minute walk from our hotel. What surprised me the most during that 5 minutes was that there were night food vendors on the street, just like in Indonesia or Mexico! One man was selling what looked like hot udon. If it weren't that it was so cold, we were exhausted, and had already eaten on the plane, we would have stopped to get a bowl!

Our room is postage stamp sized, smaller than many American living rooms. Dick guesses it's 165 sq feet. But everything works perfectly, so we'll be fine. Got to get to bed now. It's 10:30 pm local time, 6:30 PDT.

Posted by pokano 05:48 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

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