Tokyo – Day One, I Think

I am sitting on the floor in a ryokan in Tokyo as I write this. I am using an iPad so I am going to use that as my excuse for all the typos. The real excuse is that I am working on about 3 hours of sleep. I also decided that getting things “down on paper” was more important than editing.

The journey started about 25 hours ago. Kira woke me up and my first reaction was that I had slept through my alarm and i needed to get to work. Then I remembered that I was on vacation. Then I remembered we had a flight to catch. The first leg of the trip from MN to L.A. Was uneventful. Melanie and I both finished the books we were reading so we traded. (The Ocean at the end of the Lane & The Sparrow )

Our lunch choices were limited at terminal 5 and I argued unsuccessfully for one last American fast food experience at McDonalds. We ended up eating at some place that billed itself as Southern California Comfort food. It was alright, but not very comforting if you ask me. It was hard to get a look at the items they were offering and the staff kept asking if we wanted something when we didn’t even know what they had. Would a menu have killed them.

I guess it is fair to say I was tired already at that point.

The flight to Japan, while long, was also uneventful. I remarked today that it has been years since I have flown anywhere and it has been decades since I have flown across the ocean. A couple nice surprises on the flight were the free movie and TV selections on a personal monitor and the free beer. That is my favorite kind of beer. I had a Kirin with my dinner and added to the sensations I remember from Japan. Sensations that started when they came around and offered hot towels at the beginning of the flight.

It seems that the majority of passengers on our plane did not have Tokyo as their final destination. As they all filed off to the international connections line we breezed through immigration and customs. The lack of lines was unexpected and we bumbled our way through digging out paperwork as we went and trying to step up to the correct counter. Without the normal bureaucratic hurry up and wait we didn’t quite have time to get our bearings. We got into the public space of the airport, acquired some Yen and after enjoying a delicious Georgia-no iced cohi, we went in search of the correct train to get us to our hotel.

I want to confess now that I am not the family organizer. Kira either enjoys coordinating these things or at least appears to enjoy it so I let her run with it. She went up to the counter and bought four tickets to our destination and we were off. I also want to point out that we were working on very little sleep at this point. We got closer to the track we needed and something didn’t seem right. The station we wanted wasn’t listed on the track we were told to go to. Kira asked and got instructions from a very helpful employee of the train line. She looked at our tickets and had enough English to explain we would need to transfer at Aito. Still didn’t seem quite right, but she seemed pretty sure. Or at least more sure than us. We got on the train she had indicated and waited for it to pull out.

As we sat there the man who had originally sold us the tickets came running over and told us that we were on the wrong train and that he had sold us the wrong tickets (which I believe is what confused his coworker.) He then escorted us over to the correct platform entrance. He had new tickets for us, but they did not work correctly so he ran off in a full out trot back to the counter, fixed the tickets, and ran back to us. The image of him running in his dress shirt and green necktie was both amusing and endearing because he was going so far out of his way for complete strangers.

Despite the initial confusion I see this as a good omen for the trip. It worked out in the end and we got a story out of it.

It is good to be back in the land of the rising sun. My eyes are very heavy so a I am going to end here. I’ll try and find time tomorrow to write about the blowtorch.

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5 responses to “Tokyo – Day One, I Think”

  1. Shawn Enderlin says :

    Hey, Mike!

    This reminds me so much of our trip to Italy. After getting fined 50 Euros each for not getting our tickets validated ( who knew you needed to do that?) We then had a frantic sleep deprived search for the train to Florence. They call it Firenze.

    Have a great trip!

    • 5xmike says :

      I left out a detail, not only were we Not fined we got some money back because the tickets he first sold us cost more.

      I wonder a little how much sleep deprivation played into this. The signs are all in English and both Kira and I used to live here. Of course back then you couldn’t get a train at the airport you had to take bus first.

  2. Janet Koplos says :

    Ah, Mike, glad to be reading your blogging again. And as a good writer, you knew to leave us with the cliffhanger line! Brilliant!

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