Last night I arrived at Narita Airport, and until my program starts tomorrow I am staying at a hotel in the area. Today, though, I had the entire day free of commitment and I wanted to start adventuring!
In order to get to Tokyo, I first needed to take the hotel shuttle back to the airport and transfer to either a bus or subway line. My hotel told me about a direct bus from the airport to Tokyo Station, which I decided to take. The shuttle to the airport was completely full, so I ended up sitting next to a Japanese woman. We got to talking about Tokyo, travel and my school, and she gave me a small pastry from her recent trip to Fukuoka. She was incredibly nice to me–just as everyone else I have been talking with so far–which gives me confidence to explore, travel, and talk to new people.
I made it to the airport, only to find I had missed the bus by 2 minutes… So I waited another 30 minutes. This was actually good, because I was able to go inside and buy water…and also realize that I was two levels above where I needed to be! Thank goodness I realized this, otherwise I would have had to wait another hour!
Anyway, I got on the bus and was immediately more comfortable, not only because I was finally headed toward Tokyo, but because it was air conditioned! I would highly recommend this bus to people going from Narita to Tokyo Station; it was only 1000 yen (about $13), had no stops, was about 70 minutes, had a bathroom…
I reached Tokyo Station and set off for the Imperial Palace. At the Nijubashi I was trying to take a picture of myself, and a group of foreigners came over and asked if they could take a picture for me. I readily accepted, but was quite amused when the guy who took the picture took not one but several, and kept telling me he was going to change the angle and so forth.
I soon realized that going to the Palace was not the greatest idea in todays weather, but I had a hunch the garden would be more shaded… only I forgot that everything is closed on Mondays in Japan! So after going to the front of the Imperial Palace I ended up walking around a bit and sitting at a small park in the shade while I decided what to do next.
Originally I had wanted to explore the gardens and the museums inside it. I can not believe I didn’t remember it would be closed today, what with all my lists and planning, but in my defense I did lose a day and today seems like Sunday to me and I was flustered and needed to quickly change my mind when I realized I needed to go to Tokyo Station first no matter where I ended up. Because of transportation first to the airport and than to Tokyo Station (and the time sensitive return trip) I didn’t want to travel too much in case I got lost.
I wanted to do something that involved being inside, and because all the museums were closed I headed over to Jimbocho via the JR Mita line. This was good transportation practice and helped me figure out the subway lines a bit more. When I got there I stopped at a coffee shop and had an Iced Raspberry Roibus Tea and a Belgian Waffle. It was delicious and allowed me to sit inside (yay air conditioning!) while I planned my next steps.
I went down the street–which is literally filled with hundreds of book stores–and explored new and used Japanese books. I don’t know why, but Japanese books fascinate me, so this was quite entertaining.
Next I found my way back to Tokyo Station and hung out in the underground mall for awhile before heading back to the hotel. My particular favorite area was one called “kitchen street” which was full of pastry shops, grocery stores and restaurants. I got to see some people making sugar candy and taiyaki, in addition to seeing a plethora of highly overpriced fruit. Can anyone tell me who in Tokyo actually buys a pre cut cup of honeydew for $8? Or a cup of raspberries for $10?!
All in all I had a wonderful day of exploration, and the final thoughts I am left with today are these:
1) Even if I live here in the future, I don’t think I will ever have the confidence to drive a car here. There are roads everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. There was a point when I was on a bus going down a three lane either way highway, and separate from that there were another two roads on either side, not to mention the roads below us and the roads arching/crossing above and below us. And it is nearly to that extent everywhere.
2) Japanese people must not be able to feel temperature. Seriously, here I was in a light dress and sweating my brains out, and there were people around me in sweaters, several layers, suits, scarves… and from looking at them it may as well have been 60, not 90, degrees! I’m super jealous.
3) Everything here seems to be more in some way; more formal, more adorable, more bizarre. Honestly, I went into a store to buy a bottle of water and they tried to put it in a bag for me… which I suppose would have been more convenient, but today it was just more hilarious. Also, I have never heard more greetings in a store! I swear half the time employees are just greeting themselves or are in robot mode and can’t stop themselves.
Thanks for reading! Tomorrow I head off to meet people from my Study Abroad program and will be heading off to Makuhari-cho in Chiba! Stay tuned for more info and more pictures! ^_^