Japan Trip 2010: Tokyo 1

April 26th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One Whole Day Lost, Three Movies Gained

My brother dropped me off at the Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston on Saturday and I was in the air just before noon. I really wanted to sleep, but it must have been the anxiety and anxiousness that kept me awake. In order to help kill thirteen hours, I did about half of the crossword puzzle, watched some TED Talks podcasts, and read portion of a book or two. Somewhere in between I also ended up watching three movies:

While sitting on the tarmac, I found out from a random conversation with the flight attendant that Continental started charging for my favorite seats: the exit row since it has more leg room. Not only that, the first week this was implemented, they made a million dollars!

Sitting next to me was an older guy who spoke broken English. I really hate it when people raise their voices as if that helps translate English to some magical universal language. I helped him get his bag in the upper compartments and ordering food and drinks. After hearing his accent for a while, I asked if he was Vietnamese and he was. We had a simple conversation and with my broken Vietnamese and his broken English, we talked for quite a while.

As we were landing, another flight attendant gave me one immigration form to fill out. I asked her for another form for the guy next to me and she gave me a confused look. I explained that we’re complete strangers and she gave me a sneer. Can’t two people who speak the same language sitting next to each other on a plane be unrelated?

Narita Station > Shinjuku Station > Ikebukuro Station

I was the last of the group [Ray, Sarah, Rami, Amy, Dan, and me] to land in Tokyo on Sunday afternoon (JST). It took over an hour to get through customs and then I was off to the Japan Rail booth to get a ticket from the Narita Airport directly to Ikebukuro Station. Little did I know, the one I took dropped me off early at the Shinjuku Station, but I should have known since I got two tickets. Luckily, a guy sitting in front of me helped me find my way to the platform to take me to the Ikebukuro Station via the Yamanote line. Fortunately, the Dai Ichi Inn Hotel was just right around the corner and with Rami’s directions, I got there quite easily.

JR Narita Express to Ikebukuro My Platform, My Car Rails Are So Efficient What's that Tower?

Shibuya Station, Karaoke, and Food!

After checking in, I found my way back to Shibuya and met up with Rami at Hachikō, the famous dog – I didn’t know, but after reading the story, it’s a pretty neat story. We walked be over to karaoke place a couple blocks away. HOLY SHIT, MY FIRST NIGHT IN JAPAN!

Tons of Billboards Cherry Blossom in the City Four or Five Stories of Karaoke!

After karaoke, we went with the group and some of Ray’s friends who live in Japan to a little restaurant, Village Vanguard Diner, that served an awesome burger with a fried egg and jalapenos. This is where I found out that despite how awesome the service, you don’t tip in Japan.

Nice Menu Selection Burger with a Fried Egg! Village Vanguard Diner

Dai Ichi Inn Hotel

Back at the hotel in Ikebukuro, Sarah, Amy, and I played blackjack and had some shots of sake from a paper carton that Dan bought earlier in the day. Ah, bed time.

Don’t drink sake from a paper carton, ever.

Waking up in the morning, I still could not believe I was in Japan. I looked out the window and realized that I needed to take photos of the comically small room I was in. The bathroom was really narrow, the tub itself was about one third the size of a normal on in America, even the ceiling was really low.

Welcome Home! No Key, No Electricity I Need This So I Don't Lose My Keys Impossible to Shower Without Hitting Something Teeny Tiny Room, RAWR! A Very Efficient Room

Everything is small in Japan,” they weren’t joking.

Next city: Kyoto!

[Japan Trip 2010 | Tokyo 1 | Kyoto 1 | Kyoto 2 | Hiroshima 1 | Hiroshima 2 | Tokyo 2 | Fuji Q]

Japan Trip 2010

April 14th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Good Times at Jack Bar

My first trip to Asia was completely amazing. Although we only stayed in one country, we visited many cities: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. We had a good group going, I got to meet up with some good people there and even Mai and Chris!

Things I already miss: nice people, really good food, cherry blossoms, public transportation, and especially the amount of history/culture that exists in Japan. If I had to summarize how the Japanese culture, there are two experiences that explain it all. Keep in mind that you don’t leave tips in Japan.

Eight of us went to a restaurant for a dinner with a variety of dishes in Kyoto. Afterward, we walked a good two city blocks from the restaurant and waited at an intersection. Running behind us was one of the waitresses. She caught up to give us a ¥100 JPY coin (about the equivalent of $1.00 USD); I guess we just forgot to pick it up. That completely blew my mind.

The morning we left Hiroshima, we decided to leave our luggage at the hotel so we could venture out around the city. After all the excitement we came back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. One of the ladies gave us a piece of paper with a dime taped to it. Again, we forgot to pick up after ourselves – dirty Americans. Even though they might not know what the value of a dime is, they made sure it got back to us. That completely blew my mind.

Just so you get an idea of who was in our group and where we were each day, below is the calendar we used to identify who needed a hotel for each evening.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
2
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
3
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
4
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
5
KYOTO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
6
KYOTO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
7
HIROSHIMA
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
8
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
9
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
10
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Dan
Amy
Tom
11
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah
Amy
12
TOKYO
Rami
Sarah

I have a ton of pictures and videos to process, so please be patient. This is just a table of contents that will be continuously updated with links as I blog each city’s activities, events, pictures, and videos.

[Japan Trip 2010 | Tokyo 1 | Kyoto 1 | Kyoto 2 | Hiroshima 1 | Hiroshima 2 | Tokyo 2 | Fuji Q]

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