Finally landed in Narita Airport after a long and arduous journey. Not gonna lie, I felt exhausted and just wanted to finally lie down on a horizontal surface after dealing with the glorious throne position for too damn long. But nope, had to go through some more red tape shit: Customs and Immigration.
At least Japanese Customs and Immigration wasn’t Nazi Germany, although they ask for papers. I don’t know if I was excited to be in Japan or ecstatic that I was off the flying tin can, but I was awake and alert enough to get right through it. I mean what other choice did I have, I needed to get to my destination. First station was immigration, and from my previous travels, I thought they would ask you questions on the nature of your trip, what you plan to do, what drugs you are going to take, are you a terrorist, etc. Nope. The immigration officer was very quiet and just scanned my passport and let me through. No questions. Maybe being a tall white westerner, I don’t look very threatening. Thanks stereotyping for getting me through quickly!
Next was Customs, where they usually check your baggage for contraband/controlled/prohibited items and report said items. OBVIOUSLY being a good boy I had nothing to report, and they let me through without looking at anything at all. Too easy.
Getting off the plane isn’t even the end of the initial transit for the trip. Narita Airport isn’t actually in Tokyo; it’s a bit less than an hour via shinkansen (bullet train). We purchased the JR pass to have unlimited train trips under authorized train paths for two weeks. It was around 400 USD which is a hell of a deal if you want to go all over Japan. The actual round trips cost for each individual travel path is like 150 USD, so you can do the math. We had to first redeem and get our JR pass, and oh boy, our first exposure to Japan was very eye opening. I felt nervous like a virgin on prom night; not knowing the local language really puts a lot of strain on you. I mean, I know like 10 words in Japanese, but obviously not optimal. We managed to find the JR Pass office and get our pass. Luckily, the Japanese are very polite people and helped when asked.
The confusion didn’t even stop there; just getting on the train to Tokyo was confusing. After staring and looking around at signs, we walked to the right station to Tokyo. As the train stopped, I attempted to get onto the train; there were a bunch of foreigners ahead of us and were taking their sweet ass time putting their luggage in the storage area. Needless to say I was lagging behind and was the last one in line to get in. I looked to my left and right and everyone was in the train except for me. I put my politeness aside and broke the personal bubbles of all the people ahead of me to get inside. I was too tired to give a shit, I needed to get to my destination.
This particular cart was fancy as fuck. It had leather bound seats that reclined and plenty of leg space. We had assigned seats so we found ours. Weirdly enough, someone was sitting in Luis’s seat…. and so Luis sat in my seat. It was some fat and blonde European guy that probably ate too much sauerkraut or was from Wisconsin. Hard to tell. I took another empty seat because I was over it. I was kind of dumbfounded we had these fancy seats; we hadn’t paid up the ass for business class. I thought WELL MAYBE JAPANESE PEOPLE ARE FANCY FOLKS because logic was beyond me at this point. The train conductor came by checking tickets, and GUESS WHAT. We were in the business class cart instead of our pleb cart in the back. So we quickly got our bags and moved carts. So much for fancy folks. I’m sure we were being stared at by the business class peeps, but yet again, I was too tired to be embarrassed, I had to just sit down somewhere.
To move quicker to our cart, I decided to put my backpack on my back with one strap, as opposed to the optimal two strap configuration. Oh boy, what a bad idea that was. Being on a train moving around 60 mph with a loose weight on your back— well, better make sure you have balance of a ballerina. I did my best not to knock out some local with a swinging 20 lb plus death weight as I navigated to the correct cart.
We managed to make our way to our correct seat finally, and a middle aged Japanese man was sitting in one of our seats. We politely asked him to move, and that was that, we were settled in our seat and bound for Tokyo.
Sumimasen (“excuse me” in Japanese, I’ve said that word hundreds of times, incredibly useful), that the photo isn’t the best quality. But I’m going to use the tired card again. My photography skills weren’t at their A game. But it’s not like I’m very good at photography anyway so you’ll get a shitty shot anyway.
It ain’t over yet though folks, even getting to Tokyo our transportation adventure wasn’t over. We then had to take the Tokyo Metro to our final destination: our hotel. It’s a bit daunting at first, the subway system, but it only took this one time to understand how it worked. It’s very efficient and cheap, unlike Donald Trump’s presidency. (Not gonna stop with the presidential jokes, so snowflake Republicans can just fuck off with my Japan journal entries). The kiosks can be programmed to read in English and you just pop in your yen coins (is that what they are called, yen coins?).
Finally arrived at our correct station, Akasaka-Mitsuke. My first impression was a bouji, gentrified district, with sprawling alleys juxtaposed with fancy new hotels and shopping areas. Even a Hooters was there, and I’m not sure how that one stacks against the US Hooters tbh.
This was our view from our hotel room:
Not the best view in the world, but still, the world viewed from fresh eyes is always a delight.
Now it was onto getting some food, and of course, sushi was the first thing we wanted to try. I mean what the hell else right? Besides no McDonald’s was in sight so we had literally no other choice. I wish I took a picture of my food like a typical basic bitch, but to be totally honest, I was super nervous again. Why? Because it seemed like the sushi bar we went to was an authentic one, not sure if it catered to foreigners. At any rate, they still let us in and served us. All we had to do was point whatever it was on the menu and the chef made it. We got a sort of seafood bowl, it was absolutely delicious. Although, we had zero idea on how to eat it. There was a glob of wasabi in the bowl, and we did not know what do with it. We ended up just mixing into the bowl with the side effect of intervals of nose flaring pain. I will say it was actually a sort of a good feeling pain? I don’t know maybe I’m just a masochist. Still, washing it down with some “sugoi” sake made it all worth it, despite being absolutely lost in translation.
So there you have it, our first day in Tokyo was a success and a definite eye opener. Can’t wait to see what other misadventures await us!