Japan Day 1
Lost in Exhaustion
The thought of Sausage McGriddles were ever present as we embarked in Toronto towards a short stop over in Chicago. On our way to Tokyo, the only thing on my mind this morning was the sweet syrupy taste of these North American delicacies instead of Asian cuisine.
Japan, like Germany, has always intrigued me as one of the major industrial centers of the world. This begins our 22 day trip across Japan and eventually onwards to Hong Kong.
As we got onto the 747 in Chicago O’Hare, it sunk in that we were starting a 13 hour flight and would cross the date line. Several hours, two horrible and one interesting in flight movie later, we landed into Tokyo Narita and out into the airport’s quiet and calming corridors. I was dead
on my feet the minute we got off the plane.
Entering Japan included a walk through the Health interview desks and into the immigration area, where, instead of the usual quick glance over and rubber stamp, we received a 2 dimensional barcode visa, thermal printed and stuck into our passport pages.
Our next task was to figure out a train into town to find the Khaosan Tokyo hostel, a location Nadine had scoped out over the Internet. Not usually a hostel-travelling person, the lure
of cheap but clean accommodations made sense to me. Especially in a place like Tokyo, with hyper accelerated growth around me, hotels would not be cheap.
After some help from a friendly local operating the ticket machine, We got onto the Keisei line and headed towards Aoto station, where we were to interchange onto a subway line to get to
Asakusa. Unfortunately, this led to much confusion as not all the subway stops were marked! After leaving the train and returning on the next scheduled run, we finally found the correct station, coming up several flights of stairs into the bustling streets of Taito City.
The neon overhead was overwhelming as we consulted a street map, finding the hostel using an unusual region/block/street number addressing scheme. Given the density and organic nature of the buildings, regular street addresses wouldn’t work here.
After we settled into the hostel, Nadine suggested we walk about for a bit into the night. The air is around 29 degrees when we landed, and the cool breeze over the river nearby made it a bit more bearable. We walked towards a marketplace, with food vendors lining the walking streets and carefully crafted plastic models of sashimi and other Japanese food in the windows of more permanent establishments. Vendors with saluting cats and walnut shaped baked goods lined the sides of the road.
We eventually ended up at a temple and gate structure, closed at night but still with a man outside offering incense to wanderers. In the tranquil calm of this historic display, rebuilt after the war, was the sound of pneumatic launch, as an American amusement ride thrust riders into the night sky amidst a backdrop of trees and pagoda like temples.
I think I am about to collapse, I have not slept in 24 hours and probably need the rest. More from Tokyo later.