It took me all of yesterday to get here and I:m just getting my head around the hotel. It:s ginormous and it first seemed like a kilometer from the lobby to the lift that goes up to room I was allocated in the new tower wing. After about 5 laps looking for things (such as an internet kiosk) it:s more like 500 metres – which isn:t too bad, really. The keyboard here is weird and it keeps defaulting to Japanese characters and it:s kind of driving me insane – even the apostrophy is in a different place!

I was met by a local travel agent holding a picket with my name on it, who then was going to put me on a shuttle (they call it a limousine here) to the hotel and he was totally spaced out when I approached him at first. I had to kind of wave my hand over his face about a dozen times for him to come back to earth, and it turns out he had been working since 6 am that day.

It:s a cherry blossom season at the moment and there:s a lot of cherry trees all over the town. I hope the sky clears up at some point because you can:t see very far in the… oh wait, it could be a smog! Hmmm…

As for the people, so far everyone speaks English. I suspect it:s because this is a tourist designated hotel, but there are certainly a lot of Americans here. I actually feel so much at home here because everyone thinks I:m Japanese, since I look like one anyway. It:s kind of strange to be the majority ethnicity (we:ll leave the identity discussion to some other time for now, my credit is about to run out and internet here is horrendously expensive! well just like about everything else here) and even though I only managed to remember two words: sumimasen & arigatou gozaimasu, and, for some strange reason my head seems to want to blurt out Spanish when I go to ask a local something. My breakfast this morning was Y3000, which is about NZ$45!!! It was good though, and I:ll find some time later to upload some photos…

I had some free time last night after checking into the hotel, and I mustered up the courage to venture out in the evening on my own, since I didn:t know anyone else here. It seemed there were a lot of people going out around that time so I followed them and ended up in a shopping district, most of which were closed because it:s Sunday night. I ended up getting a box of mochi:s, because I:m a huge fan of mochi:s (perhaps second after chocolate), and my food experience here has been a polar opposite to that of South America. I could see myself living here already!

Ok, I:m going to head off to the 9am meeting. I:ve been told we get very little freetime so I don:t know when my next post will be, but I thought I:d write to say I:ve arrived here in one peace, and I have a feeling I:m going to have a mindblowing time in Japan over the next 13 days…

jaa, mata ne.


6 thoughts on “Japan Day One (and a half)

  1. Hey, where are you now?

    Shame you are finding it expensive though – Y 3000 is more than I paid for food in a day even when travelling 🙂 If you are in Okinawa then probably understandable since you are limited.

    Hopefully you are not too tired to explore at nights – if you want any recommendations of things to do then am happy to help!


    • I:m in Minamata at the moment – staying here for 3 days, then going to Ojika, Seseibo, Kyoto, then spending another 3 days in Tokyo. Do give me some recommendation for things to do in the evening in Tokyo – we:re staying at New Otani by the Imperial Palace – also I:m there all day on Saturday so if there:s any markets or cultural events happening then it would be good to know in advance…

      • Cool – Kyushu – although you are in the places I haven’t been to. Nagasaki is a particular favourite – lovely night lights.

        Anyway, as for Tokyo, the thing that you definitely want to do, is go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – they have a special elevator that goes up to the 47th floor and on a nice day you can see Mt. Fuji – as well as an awesome view of Tokyo. And it’s…..FREE. The other cool thing is that it is in West Shinjuku which is the most modern part of Japan really….lots of cool buildings – it is the main MNC business district. Could be a good night activity – see details here:


        From your hotel it will not be hard to get on a train to Shinjuku – just make sure you get out the “West exit” at Shinjuku station – it’s the busiest station in the world and I have been lost a few times 🙂

        Also close is Shibuya (worth a gander at nights) and Harajuku (possible Saturday activity) for “contemporary” fashion is also nearby. Next to Harajuku is Meiji jingu shrine which is also worth spending some time at.

        Unfortunately Hanami is finishing – pretty much the whole of Tokyo is a “cultural festival” so by the time you get there the cherry blossom flowers should have fallen already (otherwise Ueno park – or just about any park would be cool).

        The big tourist attraction in Tokyo is Asakusa – they have senso-ji which is a big buddhist temple – and around it is plenty of Japanese “nick-nack” kind of shops – good for souvenirs, although a bit tacky from a Japanese persons point of view- but if it does the trick for people back home!

        For alternative Saturday exploration I can also suggest getting out of Tokyo to Kamakura. Take Shonan-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku station to Kamakura basically (every second train that is heading as far as “Zushi” will take you to Kamakura). Trip is about 50mins at 900 yen. You have the huge Buddha statue out there – as well as Hase-dera which is another pretty important sight. Actually the whole township is full of cool places. Yokohama is worth stopping by on the way back – Minato Mirai (“Port/harbour of future”) is kind of funky if you are interested in architecture – and if it is getting on to evening “chuuka gai” or China town is pretty cool. I personally love Yokohama – used to be an old industrial town but in the last 20 years they have internationlised it and modernised it – so now it is the up and coming and place to live in Japan.

        Hope this helps 🙂 I am so envious – this time of year is the best weather for being in Japan – normally it is way too hot or too cold!

      • Thanks tonnes for this post, Corey!

        Your post is starting to make a lot more sense after spending a full day navigating around the Tokyo underground. I’ve probably spent just as much time underground as I have above ground, which probably heightened my enjoyment of the places I’ve visited! (and of course, the fresh air). It’s also been interesting to observe the dramatic change in types of people who take the subway at different times of the day.

        Been to Shinjuku and Shibuya during the day & Omote-sando in the evening, and I’m still a bit dizzy from spending too much time at the giant Hello Kitti store. Kids here are really spoilt for choice.

        I was unsure about going out of the way to visit Yokohama, for the ferry terminal because there’s so much hype around it, but after reading your post I think I should go. I have all of Friday to explore sights I’ve missed, and I’m planning to revisit Omote-sando again to check out the new Neza museum by Kengo Kuma. It looked uber sugoi from outside.

        Thanks again for the tips!

  2. OMG… $45 breakfast? Better stick to mochi breakfast/lunch/dinner.. hahaha.
    Remember to say “Itataki masu….” before you eat. 🙂

    • I know, it:s extreme! I actually bought a box of mochis from a food court which set me back Y1000 so it:s not particularly cheap either… I do remember `Itatakimasu` which Kaori taught me 🙂

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