The Actual Trip to Japan
Today I boarded yet another direct flight from the United States to Tokyo, and this time I plan to stay for a bit! It is my brother, Edward’s, spring break from university so he is going to be joining me for the first ten days of this trip in Japan, South Korea, and China. After he leaves I will have about five more weeks on my own where I will be travelling to every country in Asia. I’m so excited for this trip as I have said since the very beginning that the region of the world that I’m most excited for is Asia as I have never been anywhere like it before. I’m so glad that it is finally here!
Edward flew in from Nashville last night and we had a hectic evening of packing and repacking. A six week trip in two tiny carry-on bags will be no easy feat! This morning was very busy as well with lots still left for me to do before our 11am flight. We were definitely running late but ended up having enough time once we got to the airport. We flew on American Airlines family passes and when we checked in the nice man at the counter actually remembered working with our grandmother who retired over twenty years ago. I definitely have a pretty unique last name so I guess that is how he remembered, but it was still a super cool coincidence.
We ended up getting great seats in economy for the long flight. We had the first row and there was no one next to Edward and I was seated in the aisle. It was more than enough room for the 13 hours! We each watched quite a few movies and slept for a bit as well. The flight went by relatively quickly (well, after about four movies I guess) and before I knew it I was back in the same airport I had to rush through only two weeks ago. But this time I was here to stay!
I had been telling Edward about how easy immigration had been on my last trip when we ran into a giant mess of a line. It was literally the antithesis of the line I had to wait in last time. Instead of being non-existent it was massive and very unorganized! It took us over an hour (the beginning of which was very uncomfortable as people were pushing and shoving) to finally make it into Japan. Once we did we had our next challenge at hand: figuring out the trains.
Here’s a little tip - if you are visiting Japan for the first time, be prepared to be very, very confused by the rail system. There are like three different companies that run rail and metro lines in the city and it was very confusing to understand at first. I might give it the honor of being the least intuitive public transit that I have ever used, even. And I have used quite a lot of it. Once we got the hang of it it was very easy but in the beginning, it was just so overwhelming.
We wanted to take the slower, cheaper train into the city but it was very difficult to tell which one that was. We just barely missed the first train (as we weren’t sure it was ours and didn’t want to hop on the wrong train) so we had to wait about an hour for the next one. Which I spent trying to figure out the trains so at least it wasn’t an hour wasted. The train ride in was about another hour which we both spent trying, and failing, to keep from nodding off. I eventually just let Edward sleep until we arrived at Tokyo station.
Things did not get any less confusing upon our arrival into the city. After attempting to figure out the metro, thinking we had it figured out, and then not being able to find a place to buy tickets, we eventually gave up and headed above ground to take an Uber to our hotel. At this point , our ineptitude largely had more to do with our extreme sleep deprivation than anything else, and we eventually realized that we just needed to get to our hotel and crash as soon as possible.
The unfortunate thing about Uber in Japan is that, at least right now, only premium services are available. Which meant our five minute Uber was about $15. So, until Uber becomes more mainstream, I highly recommend using it only in unique cases (like sleep deprivation). We arrived at our hotel, a tiny spot in the heart of the city, and fell asleep not long after. It was a cramped room but we definitely could not have cared less after such a long day. The day ended on a pretty funny note, though, as it was Edward’s first time seeing one of the crazy Japanese style automatic toilets and he had no idea how to use it. He couldn’t get it to stop flushing and the whole ordeal was pretty entertaining!
While it was a bit of a stressful beginning to out time in Japan I’m willing to chalk most of it up to our tiredness. I’m so excited to be in Japan and really looking forward to what is to come when we explore tomorrow!
101 countries down, 94 to go
Read about my first day in Japan here.