Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 1 - Narita to Tokyo (Japan)

31st January, 2003 - We touched down in Japan after an uneventful night. As I was a smoker at the time, the first port of call was the exit and good long smoke. Non-smokers will never know the gnawing pain that is a smoker's curse on long flights. Still the 9.5 hours to Tokyo is easy in comparison to some. Thankfully those days are over.

Narita is surprisingly quiet - for such a large airport - at 6:30-7:00 am. I thought it would be thousands of people (perhaps I had visions of planes being loaded like their trains...all spewing their human cargo out promptly on arrival). Quiet is good.

The one thing I discovered was the vending machines. It's wonderful...they have all manner of drinks (hot and cold)... just imagine it folks... hot coffees from a machine. That's just crazy talk.... until I stepped outside and felt the cold chill go through my inadequate clothes. ?: )  Will need to buy jacket tonight!

We caught the train into Shinjuku - our first stop. It's not the fastest train in Japan... in fact it takes over an hour (depending on whether you go the cheap option - then it's 90mins) just to get into Tokyo Station. Shinjuku's further even still.

The first observation of Japan - certainly back in 2003. No escalators. Seriously - for a country that practically built the innovation industry, they have little or no concern for (a) travel weary tourists, or (b) people with disabilities. It was terrible having to lug our suitcases up and down platforms (as we had to change one line to get to Shinjuku).

We finally made into Shinjuku station, which can be described in one word - labyrinthine. (is that a word?... seems to check out). Ok two words. Busy. You can get yourself into trouble trying to find the right exit. Take your time, and keep your wits about you. We made it out in one piece (and it didn't take too long)... but we needed a coffee before we did anything else. Found Cafe. Second observation. Japanese people don't like filling up coffee cups. That and they have sweet teeth. And there's still a surprising number of traditional Japanese toilets around. I have to say - if you've got bowel problems - this has got to look a little daunting. I'm still not entirely sure how to use (and/or ride) these things...

Well - I guess some culture shock was in store.

It was not long after we arrived that I also had to question my trusty Japanese guide, T-chan. Looking for food we came across a shop which had a number of displays showing what they were selling. Most probably thinking that she'd educate the gaijin about sophisticated plastic food displays... T-chan promptly stuck her finger into one of the "fake" pasta dishes. Only to find that it was perhaps the only REAL food display in all of Japan. I so wish I had that on video!

Well - off to see Japan... and a word of warning - be careful what you stick your finger into!
Posted by Picasa


  1. I've been given similar advice about roppongi at night.

  2. Hehehe.... I'm a bit slow... I was wondering what da hell are you talkin about... then I re-read my last sentence of this post. The light turned on.