Monday, May 23, 2016

Flying to Japan 2016

Andrew moved to Japan a year ago, and will be there for at least another year. We wanted to visit him and grandma Kathy and her BFF Nancy valiantly offered to babysit for an entire week so that we could. We waited until Kevin was done with the school semester and then we were off!

We left our house on Saturday at 6:40 AM to drive to Laguardia. With the time difference that was actually Saturday at 7:40 PM in Japan. We had an hour and half flight Toronto followed by 12 and half hours to Narita, Japan. But door to door with the layover and 40 miles between Narita and Tokyo, we arrived at hotel about 24 hours after we left our house.

Flight to Japan 2016
Laguardia, NY, Saturday, 8:55 AM... excited but nervous. (Japan 9:55 PM)

Flight to Japan 2016
Kevin in front of a Serra sculpture in Toronto, 12:49 PM

Flight to Japan 2016
The route west from Toronto to Tokyo

Flight to Japan 2016
Mountain caps over White Horse, Alaska

What did we do with all these hours? Prepare ourselves for the radical time change by sleeping on Japan time? No. I ate a lot. The food served on Canada Air was actually very good in the direction of Japan (not so much on the way back). Kevin worked on his third novel. And instead of reading one of the 5 digital books I brought with me I watched basically all the in-flight movies: How to Be Single, The Big Short, Joy, and Trainwreck (Kevin and I watched this together by synchronizing our screens). I also did the Berlitz app on the flight to learn Japanese. Because surely I could learn/relearn Japanese in a few hours on a plane? I slept 2-3 hours, and Kevin slept maybe 4.

Flight to Japan 2016
A useful phrase: "I don't understand."

We actually landed early in Narita Airport, but customs took an hour. Our first step after we got through customs was to find where to get our Japan Rail Pass and to reserve a ticket to Tokyo. The JR Pass has to be purchased in advance and you get a voucher sent to your home address in your country because it's only for tourists not locals. We still had to bring the vouchers to the train station to get the pass. The passes allow you to ride the Shinkansen bullet trains and the JR local or express (subway) trains. It saved us a lot of money. The only thing was that there are numerous companies that have their own subway trains and you still have pay for those but they were usually pretty cheap.

Since Narita is 40 miles from Tokyo we also had to use our pass to reserve a ticket on the Narita Express to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo. The Narita Express was the only train we used that required reservation and for some reason they didn't put us on the next train but the train after that which was a bit frustrating.

Arrival in Japan 2016
JR Pass and Narita Express ticket

Arrival in Japan 2016
Way more tired on the 65 minute Narita Express...
Sunday, 5:40 PM in Japan (but Sunday 4:40 AM EST in the US)

Arrival in Japan 2016
View of rice paddies out the window.

When we arrived at the Shinagawa Station (Shinagawa is one of the 23 special wards of Tokyo) we still had to find our hotel, and equally confusing, the entrance to our hotel, and then we had to find Andrew who was in a different lobby than we thought. But at last we were reunited! We haven't seen Andrew in a year!

Arrival in Japan 2016
Map of Tokyo Special Wards. Shinagawa is second from the bottom.

Tokyo 2016
Outside Shinagawa Station

Arrival in Japan 2016

We showered quickly and went straight out without sleeping. [Sunday, Japan time 8 PM, EST 7 AM] Our first adventure in Japan in the next post!

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