And so it begins. I’m now sitting in my very very tiny hotel room in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, and to say this is surreal is the understatement of the year, almost as much of an understatement as me saying that Japan has already overwhelmed me.
The day started off simple enough, got on the Link in Seattle with my luggage, something I’ve done several times before, so far so good.
Got to the airport, did that whole process of sitting at the gate, walking down the walkway, I think you all know this, if not, you might wanna travel. Doesn’t even need to be very far, if you live in NY fly to Providence, if you live in Seattle fly to Portland. Ok, here are those pictures.
After the long flight which got to Narita International Airport in Japan at about 5:30pm local time (1:30am Seattle time), this is where stuff got interesting.
I was assuming that the airport here in Japan would be somewhat easy for a non-Japanese speaking person to navigate around and not feel completely overwhelmed, nope, I was wrong. I had to say now though on my first blog post that I was stupid and didn’t learn any Japanese prior to this trip except “hai”, “gomen nasai”, and “sumimasen”. I realize this lack of effort to learn the language is already starting to hurt but I shall overcome. The rest of the night won’t show this but let’s remember this blog post in a few days to see if it still holds true.
I somehow, by the grace of god, manage to find my way to the Narita Express train to Ikebukuro and while on it I spend the entire time trying to figure out how to make a phone call with Sprint in Japan (spoiler alert: I figured it out).
Once I finally get to the train stop in Ikebukuro, I think I have another angel on my shoulder because, well, picture an even more confusing version of the subway under Times Square because this one somehow has more people and again, all in Japanese. I figure out how to get above ground, this took about 20 mins. It was fun though, people must’ve been looking at me and laughing. I get above ground and now comes another fun part, finding my hotel.
I stop a taxi driver, tell him the name of my hotel, he’s never heard of it. I try asking around and realize that Ikebukuro is a big local area, not so much tourist so not so big on the English speaking. Ok, it’s gonna be all on my shoulders, I’m up for this. I walk around, see countless Pachinko parlors and even see a Izakaya restaurant I take a mental note of. I stumble upon my hotel and couldn’t be happier to have done it all on my own (for the record, it was about 2 blocks from the taxi driver who never heard of it before).
Now that I’m in my hotel room, I settle in, even Skype’d with the parents, I knew I had to go out and explore Ikebukuro even though I really should’ve gotten sleep. My hotel is pretty centrally located here with an incredible amount of restaurant and arcade filled alley’s that unlike America, here they are incredibly safe and amazing. Almost as amazing as the fact that there are more vending machines in Tokyo than taxis (not a real stat, just something I’ve observed. Yes, I will be getting Pocari Sweat from a vending machine before I my trip is over).
It’s getting late, I have to eat, here comes my biggest challenge of the entire day, ordering food and getting what I actually want and paying for it and saying thank you in the end. This did not go well at all, no other way to explain it. The restaurant was cool though, it was in one of the alley ways on the 3rd floor off of a sketchy elevator. I really wanted an off the beaten path restaurant and I found just that. I pointed at a picture on the menu, thankfully it had pictures. I tried ordering tea, no luck, ended up with water (I must remember, green tea is “ocha”). I think I had a Korean beef dish which is interesting since I’m in Japan and should be eating Japanese food. Either way, it was delicious and the waiter laughed at me, something tells me he wishes I spoke Japanese but oh well, can’t do anything about that now.
At this point of the night, I’m just slowly walking back to my hotel, seeing the after midnight Sunday night crowds in Ikebukuro and it’s so incredibly safe, people in parks and homeless people but nothing compared to Seattle. I stop by a “New York style” bagel place, needless to say, I’ll be trying that out in the morning (I have to see if Japan knows how to make a bagel because Seattle sure as hell doesn’t). I also find a Sunkus, it’s a 7-11 sorta and find this random chocolate snack for pretty cheap so I get it. It’s good, it’s chocolate covered something. I don’t think it’s it’s a chocolate covered animal so we’re ok.
So there you have it, the first day of my adventure. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. I’ll be doing this once a day because it will be great for me having this journal of my vacation when I come home.
If you want to get in touch with me, my phone is basically non-existent. I can make phone calls but to conserve battery and the $1.69/minute charge I have to pay, reach me another way. I will be checking Facebook and gmail (firstname.lastname@example.org) whenever I can get to a Wifi hotspot for my phone to log on to.
I think that’s it for tonight. I hope this first blog post was coherent because I’m on well over 24 hours straight of being awake. If I’m not coherent, I hope it was at least entertaining.