It’s been a week since I returned from Japan, and though I’ve readjusted to life in the states, I’d like to revel in my journey a little longer. So, I’ve decided to regale you with my travel tales in intimate and obnoxious detail! Or, perhaps it’s just for my own benefit ^^
It also happens to be Thursday in the US (“Throwback Thursday” right?) so I decided to start at Day 1 (December 5, 2014) and relive my month-long trip in prose. So, let’s travel back in time…
When I left the US for Japan on the 4th, I had not slept at all the night before, and so I slept on each of the 2 flights within the US, and then once I had dinner on the flight from LA to Japan, I slept like it was night time (which it was in Japan). I woke up about 3 hours prior to landing, which was about noon Japan time. I really think this is the way to go (for me!) with international travel, since it’s so difficult to adjust your body to an opposite time zone.
The first time I went to Japan, I was completely disoriented and I slept until late afternoon when the hotel staff called me and told me I needed to leave so that they could clean my hotel room. It took me days to get used to the time change, and I didn’t want to cut down on my happy fun Japan time this trip.
I watched a Japanese movie called “Judge!” (ジャージ！・Jaaji!・Judge!) on the plane and the Japanese “Frozen” (アナと雪女王・Ana to Yuki Jyoou・Anna and the Snow Queen). I really recommend “Judge!” as a comedy movie (it’s about an advertising competition in the US, stereotypes, and cultural differences). Then they served us breakfast and my 19 hour trip was over!
When I arrived in Japan at 3 in the afternoon on Friday, I was already pretty much adjusted to the time change. I didn’t feel jet lagged so I feel like the no-sleep-til-airplane method worked really well for me ^^
Narita International Airport
Immigration at Narita was a breeze as there were not many people disembarking; the majority were connecting to other destinations. Getting my bag from the information desk took some time because it was overweight by Japanese standards (it was less than 23 kg/50 lbs at check-in!), but by the time I got my bag the large group of Koreans from Seoul ahead of me had already been through customs so I didn’t have any lines. They didn’t search my bag like the first time I came to Japan and just waved me through, so I wheeled my cart through customs into a very empty airport.
I skirted the large huddle of Korean guys who must have been in some kind of tour group or school group and snuck up on my fiancé who was on his mobile (as usual, probably reading 2ch まとめ). After an awkward PDA (the Korean guys were staring at us and I’m not big on PDA) we went out to the car with my cart.
International arrivals are on the first floor of Terminal 1, North Wing, and you just cross a road with taxis and buses to get to the parking lot. I’m happy that his father let him borrow his car to take me and my bags back to his apartment. I usually take the train from Narita, but I’d have had to take the train and then a bus without the car, and I didn’t want to lug my “overweight” bag along with me. I brought a lot of clothes. Don’t judge!
When my bags were loaded, we went back to the terminal to get a temporary mobile phone for emergencies. It was nice to have for a sense of security when I was off on my own, but the charges for outgoing calls and messages are expensive (I never used either) and I’d like to find a better mobile for my next trip.
Driving from Narita to Tokyo on a Friday evening (it was about 6 pm when we left the airport) is no easy feat. The best route is the highway, which is 2 lanes with a barrier, and features frequent accidents and traffic jams. We ended up getting off the highway for a while just to avoid a huge traffic jam caused by an accident where even the ambulance couldn’t get through (thank you car navi!). It took us about 3 hours, whereas it took him 2 hours on the way there.
You may or may not know, that Narita Airport is not in Tokyo, but actually in Chiba Prefecture. It is 2 hours from the main part of Tokyo on a good day. Haneda Airport is closer to Tokyo, only about an hour away, but it costs more to fly into it. It’s on an island that was expanded by adding garbage to the bay to increase the land area.
After we got back and unloaded my bags, he wanted me to greet his family, so I changed after the long flight and broke out my most formal Japanese to briefly greet them. Despite my probable delirium and slight disorientation from the past day of travel, I think my first impression went off quite well.
Although I’d only been awake for about 10 hours, I was ready to pass out at 10 pm that night, and I slept quite well! Until the next installment.. thank you for reading this far!
You can read my original blog entry from this day from Japan here (it’s kinda similar, FYI).