Arrival to Tokyo...
Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
110Trip End Jul 23, 2007
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Greetings from Japan!!!
Jose: The morning we arrived in Tokyo, which was awsome...and we found a Citibank in the
airport...YAY!!! It was quite an adventure getting to our hostel. We first asked
the information booth how to get there and of coarse they gave a diffrent answer
than the directions online that were almost written in japaneese. The information
booth lady also did not speak english but she knew a few words here and there. In
the end we decided to go with her directions, why I dont know
using a japaneese keyboard so please bare with me. So far I can,t figure out how
to do an apostrophy or a aprentheseese, but mind you i can see them on the
keyboard but I can,t seem to get them on the computer, I,ve tried shift, crtl,
alt, and a combination of all those and nothing works. Anyways, so we got to the
platform for the first train after paying in Yen for the ticket. Surprisingly the
machine is smart enough to give you change for a hundred (really a 10,000) but not smart enough to take VISA go figure...for such a modern city not to take VISA seems odd.
So once we arrived we were looking for a particular train which I can,t even try
to pronounce. After seeing basically everyone getting on that train I finally
tried to communicate with one of the passengers by pointing at the train and
saying the train I was looking for...it took a min, but once they figured out
what I was trying to say they nodded and so we got on, just as the doors were
really interesting. The subway station had four stalls for trains but 8 trains
going both ways one each stall pass through here. Just so I am clear, I first saw
a train heading west on the same track we picked up our train heading east and
they were diffrent lines. It was insane!!! We luckily got on the right subway and
slowly started figuring out the subway system. Once we got to our stop there were
4 exits all numbered we chose the one closest to us and vualah we were back on
the surface. It looked pretty cool but very calm compared to what I had seen on
TV. A shopkeeper saw us looking in all sorts of directions because I was looking
for a river, since to get to this place had turned into pictionary from here
because the map we had did not have street names but instead it was just a
picture map with a star at where we needed to go
nice. He took us into his restaurant sat us down and drew us a map. Still
pictionary but at least it had marked the streets with lights. We kept our map as
a souvenior...It is really cute. So we said farewell and went on our way to find
the hostel. We had no problem finding it after his amazing drawing. We went up
the stairs to our hostel which is on the third floor. We had to make a pit stop
on the second floor to take off our shoes...thats right "NO SHOES PAST POINT"
said the sign.
The hostel looked quite small like smaller than my studio on the beach. I am not
talking about our room which was the size of our closet...no kidding. It's
dimensions are about 4 feet by 7 feet. I barely fit in the room much less the bed
which is a twin
reminded me of when I was seven. The air conditioning they had marketed on the
website was infact a heater which is definetely not neccessary given that it is about
85 degrees. I am not claustraphobic but after this experience I may be. We then
found out that the showers are on the 2nd floor and you need the "Secret Combo"
to get in. In the end it works, and since all of the things I just told you
haven't happen yet since we arrived at 10am and check in is at 3pm I will
continue after we dropped our bags with the attendant.
We decided to browse our area and found that there was a shrine near us so we
headed that way. The trip there was fun, trying to figure out where we are
compared to our map. In the end we found everything relatively easily...I'm
pretty good with maps even if they don't have street names
for lunch because it was the only thing open...not any burger though a terriaki
burger. The price was much less expensive than I had expected, even cheaper than
Australia. Andrea waited till after the Shrine to get some local noodles, it
looked more like soup to me and it had a strong soy based taste.
The temple in Asakusa was magnificant. It was everything I had always dreamed a japaneese
shrine would look like. Turns out though that it was rebuilt after world war II
because we bombed it along with a ton of other things all across the city. It was
built as a replica of the shrine that had once stood there. We saw pictures of
millions of people surronding the temple during important ceremonies. They have
large incense buckets that for good luck everyone tries to inhale as much as
possible (pictures attached)
Sidenote: I figured how to get the right punctuation by ignoring the keyboard and
just typing as I would normally because the keys do not correspond with the right
Anyways, we then entered the shrine and decided to participate. They had a
circular tube with a whole and inside the tube there is several sticks. So what
you do is shake the tube until the first stick comes out and then that
corresponds with a number and then you look up the number and it gives you your
fortune. It took me a while to look up my number since it is in japaneese.
Luckily the locals are really nice and showed me which one was mine after seeing
me struggle to play match. I got a great fortune with good luck all over it, but
andrea unfortunately got a bad luck number so she decided to try again and got
another bad luck number so she was really glad she was not superstitouious
of all thoguh was that all three said that it was a bad time for marriage and for
a trip...I don't know what it is talking about because I am having the time of my
life!!! The marriage thing...not so sure about...JUST KIDDING!!!! My wife is the
best even though she is twice as unlucky!!!
So then we went to get Andrea some lunch and her noodles were good. The tea they
serve like water in the states was like a weird version of soy sauce. It's hard
to explain but it was NO BUENO!!! So I had a beer instead, nothing like a beer at
11:30 in the morning.
So then we cruised the streets around the temple checking out the different stalls
with all sorts of knick nacks. We restrained ourselves but not by much. We then
decided to get the subway to Tokyo station in the heart of the city to visit the
got off the subway we were in pure chaos, I had no idea which way was up but we
slowly figured it all out. We found out that you can't visit the palace unless
you give 5 days notice which wasn't going to happen. So we visited the gardens
instead. It was all really pretty. We took lots of pictures. It has a moat
surrounding the palace and the gardens and they still have the locations the
samurias had previouly used as checkpoints. After a long walk around the gardens
we decided to head back tot he hostel because I was exhausted fom not sleeping on
the plane. So we took a nap once we got home.
When we woke up it was almost 8pm and so we decided it was time for dinner. We
decided to get an appetizer downstairs which is a part of our hostel because we
recieve a free drink everyday at the bar
Shibuya which is supposed to be the craziest part of Japan with the streets
filled with people. It was definetly crazy. We knew we were getting close because
the subway became a sardine can for as many people as possible. It was at this
time I started realizing how rare it was to find a westerner and by that I am
including any europeans. In the subway and as far as I had seen all day, we were
all alone except at the hostel. It was quite a reality check. In shibuya as soon
as we made it to the surface all we could here was Japaneese marketing screaming
from loudspeakers everywhere. There were also billions of Pachinko Game
locations. For those of you who don't know it is like slots only you get ball
bearings since it is ilegal to gamble money and then you trade the beall bearings
in for money...GO FIGURE...Poker is illegal though and it follows the exact same
principle...you get chips for your money and then you trade chips for money...
Anyways, we found a standing sushi bar that was packed so we decided to eat there. We were a little apprehensive at first since there was no english anywhere but I said what the heck lets try
So after wandering a while we got extremely tired and decided to head back
to the hostel. It was probrably all the neon lights!!! It took almost 45 min in the subway so Tokyo seems to be quite big. So once we got home we went almost straight to bed. Good night!!!
Jose & Andrea