This shot was taken in flight from Tokyo to Shanghai and was accepted into the airliners.net database, a difficult feat indeed.
The first day of my trip!
And what a flight it was. Flawless in all ways except for maybe a lack of leg room. But @ 5’9” who am I to complain? Lunch: Salmon, Muscles, maguro Sashimi, Salad, bread, etc.
I land @ NARITA @ 4:30. After immigration/customs I am met by Kashio holding a sign that reads “Brian Johnson” (my first airport sign experience.) A brief 2.5 hour train ride takes us to KOGANI in W. Tokyo. We immediately dive into some soba noodles w/sea weed and come home. Then Greg. Then melatonin. Then bed.
The Longest Day: 5:30 AM Ring Ring: Alarm Clock Chuo Line to Kanda Station. 2nd noodle adventure. Coffee w/Greg’s students. YAMANOTE Line to OKACHIMACHI Line to markets galore. Walked UENO. Noodles. Udon with Fish Ball. Ueno Park → National Museum. Student Card scam failure. (Poor Greg) Than into Natl’ Museum and here → The Gallery of Horyuji Treasures (see clip out.) Outstanding. 7th century Buddhas. Other Japanese history. Park with homeless. Then Yanaka Cemetery and temple and beer, rain, train, cold. Yamanote Line to Tokyo Station to MARANOUCHI building for view time relaxation. Walked to electronics store. Tokyo Station, met Kashio. Chuo Line → Shinjuku Station → Kabukicho (red-light district/drinking/hourly love hotels & girls pictures. Yummy and strange bleached hairstyle guys. Then to Syonben-Yokocyon (Pee Alley/Street) and we ate Yakitori BBQ (chicken stick) chicken, chicken balls shishito, beer. Homeless people under umbrellas, top of the government building for outstanding views. Christmas decorations in Shinjuku. Then two trains home and we get crushed by pushing maniacs: pushing, shouting sneezing, masks. The only problem is I bruise my foot from improper footwear and it hurts like heck for the next five days until I buy replacements. (What a great place!!!)
No alarm, sleeping, computer downstairs at Gregs, email, miso soup & nato, sweet plum. Wild River Park (NOGAWA) Beer, snack, croquette. Soba Mill with pretty girl. River walk. Jindaiji Temple. Had red beancake dumpling with green tea & red maples; beautiful. Bus to Mitaka. Nice road with river to Inokashira Park Park → Kichijuji (maze of markets) and train home. Kashio prepares ODEN (fish balls, diakon, and carrots) for dinner. Sleep. Good night.
I am going to begin this segment with safety. And this is a theme I am going to resort to quite frequently. Tokyo is on of the safest big cities on the planet (and also one of the most expensive) yet amongst all this chaos lay a level of civilness that I have found no where else. The vulnerable vending machines, 20 million strong, everywhere. There is a little something here for everyone.
Subject: From Japan with love
So I finally found heaven on earth… in the form of a tiny sushi joint (Sushizanmai) in the center of the Tsukiji Fish Market — the largest fish market on Earth, and THE Mecca for sushi. Yes it was good. Really good. In fact, the Toro (tuna) made warm butter seem like steel. And damn, now that it has been sushi every day for a week, what a snob I have become (and a stinky one at that.) But don:t worry, China will flush me out and help me forget the tantalizingly good times here, and by the time I come home, that sushi place on Clement Street just might seem appealing again.–Et ?RŒ?@i Oh no, this keyboard just switched to Japanese) he heee. Anyway, I have to say that Tokyo has been mind opening. Talk about a safe city. Lonely Planet suggests that it is perhaps the safest in the world. And judging how everyone seems to leave their Louis Vuitton bags laying around, I have to believe it. And it is clean, too. Really clean. Those ubiquitous discarded cigarette butts are absent (even thought they smoke like fiends.) Attention to detail everywhere. Nothing is taken for granted, so little space for the 22 million souls, so everything must fit, and it does. And the cost. Yes, even the once mighty dollar doesn’t go far here. IE: four dollars just to get into town in the morning. (And I am not staying in the suburbs.) But at the same time, I think that I have finally found a place that has a little something for everyone-- So don:t no?RŒ?fŒ?f—p‚Z‚“‚“‚“‚“ (Japanese again.) So don:t none of you miss this place.
The other day, I went to the mountain city of Nikko, one of the spiritual capitals, and mingled with monks and ancient temples in trees the size of redwoods. Although jetlagged, I have to say, it really was great. And I have already thought of you all and really miss you. Come visit me!
PS. Tsingtao kegger party at Jeremy’s on the 27th. Happy Holidaysback to top
1:20P - Japan Airlines flight JL0061 (B747-400)
Los Angeles LAX, CA — Tokyo Narita NRT, JAPAN
Checked-in to Weekly Mansion Tokyo
2-17-54, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052
Everything progresses as planned. I arrives to LAX and rendezvous with my two MBA friends Samira and Phil. At JAL check-in, we arrange seats close to each other on the 747-400. The 10-hour flight was wonderful and included great food, an excellent entertainment system and all the others luxuries that have gone missing in domestic US flights, such as ample drinks, eye masks, blankets, etc. I decide to use my computer for a bit but realize that I left my power cable back in the US. Oh no. In an effort to save battery power, I decide to use my computer as little as possible in order to save the battery life. On that note, I turn off the computer, place it in the black protective case and stash it under the seat in front of me.
After landing, we clear customs quickly and instantly locate the correct bus that will transport us from Narita International Airport to the Weekly Mansion Hotel in Akasaka. About 30 minutes into our 75-minute bus ride, I suddenly realize that I have left my MacBook laptop on the airplane underneath the seat. Panic hits as we speed down the Japanese speedway. I attempt to convince the driver to turn the bus around, but my limited Japanese combined with his limited English loses the translation. One of my classmates questions, “How can you do such a thing?”
This irritates me more because of course it was a stupid thing I did. I fight back with the following excuses, “It was dark under my seat and I could not see the computer because it was camouflaged in its black case.”
The wise guy responds, “How can you forget it under there when you put it there?”
Even more stressed I mention, “It is the first time I have flown with a computer and I used it early on in the flight eight hours before landing. I am tired and I left it there.” My defense is doing nothing but boiling my blood. Melissa soothes the air by suggesting that we all make mistakes and JT says that I will my computer back and not to worry.
The moment we arrive to the hotel, I run up to the reception and declare, “I am having an emergency!” My heart beats fast. Luckily, one of the receptionists speaks enough English to understand my dilemma. The helpful hotel staff locates the correct telephone number and I am soon being comforted by the JAL lost and found representative. She says not to worry and the airplane is scheduled to go to Azerbaijan next, but it has not yet left Japan and they (JAL) will contact me the moment the airplane cleaners find my computer on the plane. I am a bit relieved so I decide to go out that night with all my friends and forget about my missing computer. When I return, a hand written note has been left on my door in somewhat broken English, “We found computer, deliver tomorrow!”
The next day, a package is waiting at reception. It is immaculately wrapped in brown paper with bubble paper inside protecting my sentimentally valuable computer. I am relieved. I suddenly realize I picked one of the best airports AND airlines in the world to leave my computer. Japan truly is a safe place and JAL is the best airline!
12:40P - Akasaka - Meet in the lobby of Akasaka International Plaza
13:30P - Meiji Jingu
Japan’s most famous Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his consort.
14:50P - Tokyo Tower - Enjoy a panoramic view of Tokyo from its main observatory.
16:20P - Asakusa Kannon Temple & Nakamise Shopping Arcade - The oldest and most popular Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
A colorful shopping arcade leading to the Asakusa Kannon temple, lined with tiny food and souvenir shops
Akihabara - Akihabara is best-known as one of the largest shopping areas on Earth for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods, including new and used items.
If you wish to get off here, please let Ayako, the program coordinator, know. If you exit the tour in Akihabara
Drive by Imperial Palace Plaza
17:50P - Akasaka - Arrive at Akasaka International Plaza
Tokyo → Kita-Kamakura ¥780
I leave the Weekly Mansion Tokyo and walk to the Akasaka-Mitsuke Station where I board the Marunouchi Line to Tokyo Station. I transfer to the Tōkaidō-San'yō shinkansen and board the Hikari 367 train, car 14, seat 7D. We speed away at 9:36am, on the dot, and arrive to Himeji Station at 1:16pm, exactly on time. I tour the centuries-old Himeji castle. I try my first takoyaki at a food court while waiting for the next train. I hop back on to Hikari train 471, car 8, seat 9D, at 4:29pm and ride and arrive to the end of the line at Hakata Station in Fukuoka at 6:44pm, exactly on time. I transfer to the JR Kamome 43 limited express train, car 2 Seat, 11A, and arrive Nagasaki Station at 8:56pm. I exit the station and walk for 6 minutes until I arrive to the Toyoko Inn Nagasaki Ekimae. My room is small, but fully equipped. There is a color TV, coffee/tea maker, a nice view, and a Toto automated toilet, which offers my first experience of a hands-free elimination. I am thrilled. I take an evening walk and run into some foreigners who invite me to sing karaoke. We sing for an hour before I call it. I am happy to be on the other side of Japan.
My hotel breakfast has Japanese and western options, but I am must curious about the various pickles on offer. I try them all. After breakfast I walk around and tour the historic sites. I visit tree and other structures that survived the nuclear blast. I find a park where a memorial designed like a cement target marks ground zero. I walk around town and up into the hills, visiting temples, cemeteries, shops and parks.
After breakfast I checkout and walk to Nagasaki Station. I board the Kamome 12 train, car 1, seat 11A, and we depart at 9:30am, on the dot. At 11:18am we pull into Hakata Station where I transfer to the Hikari 460 train, car 8, seat 3D. We depart at 11:59am and arrive to Hiroshima Station at 1:09pm. I transfer to Hiroshimaeki Station, board the Hiroshima Electric Railway, ride for 13 stops and exit at Tokaichi-Machi Station. I walk for 3 minutes to the J-Hoppers Hiroshima Traditional Guesthouse. I meet up with the rest of the MBA crew, walk around Hiroshima and visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
I take the boat to Itsukushima island and tour the Itsukushima shrine and surrounds. The island is green and there are many small deer and monkeys roaming around. Tourists are quite happy with all the scenery. I hike around a while and take the boat back to Hiroshima.
We barely catch the 7:46am Hikari 444 train, car 5, seat 4C. We depart on time and arrive to Shin-Osaka at 9:20am. We transfer to Hikari 366 train, car 6, seat 13C, and depart at 9:43am. We arrive to Kyoto at 9:58am, on time. We tour Kyoto and walk along the famed Philosopher's Path. We walk downtown and run into the Gion Matsuri festival. Many people are dressed in traditional attire and are pushing around massive, ornate wooden floats. Some of the floats are on massive wheels while others are held in the air. We head back to Kyoto Station and board the Hikari train 376, car 12, seat 2C. We depart at 3:00pm, on the dot, and arrive to Tokyo Station at 5:43, exactly on time. Exhausted, we all head back to the Weekly Mansion Tokyo. I have some sushi for dinner and call it a weekend.
Tokyo → Himeji
July 13 (9:36) (13:16)
Hikari 367 Car 14 Seat 7D
Himeji → Hakata
July 13 (16:29) (18:44)
Hikari 471 Car 8 Seat 9D
Hakata → Nagasaki
July 13 (19:02) (20:56)
Kamome 43 Car 2 Seat 11A
Nagaskai → Hakata
July 15 (9:30) (11:18)
Kakome 12 Car 1 Seat 11A
Hakata → Hiroshima
July 15 (11:59) (13:09)
Hikari 460 Car 8 Seat 3D
Hiroshima → Shin-Osaka
July 17 (7:46) (9:20)
Hikari 444 Car 5 Seat 4C
Shin-Osaka → Kyoto
July 17 (9:43) (9:58)
Hikari 366 Car 6 Seat 13C
Kyoto → Tokyo
July 17 (15:00) (17:43)
Hikari 376 Car 12 Seat 2C