The day we left for Tokyo was a bit weird for me. Being a control freak organisational wizard I already had everything packed, checked, double-checked and then rechecked again (just to be sure).
But I was still uneasy. I’m a teeny bit embarrassed to admit that I was teary leaving my boyfriend Jarryd behind for two weeks. I realised that Jarryd and I have been together for six years. The longest we’ve been apart is five days.
Then I realised ‘that’s pretty fucking weird,’ and did consider that maybe some time apart would be healthy. ;D
But still, at that moment, I just felt like I would miss him so much. ❤
Our taxi turned up promptly and we loaded our bags into the back. I hugged and kissed Jarryd goodbye (on the brink of real tears) and hopped in the taxi, waving and trying to smile as we pulled away.
I promptly forgot all about home.
Fuck yea bitches: JAPAN! LET’S DO THIS!
Departure from Perth Airport
Our departure from Perth Airport was uncannily easy. It took us all of five minutes to check in and have our bags thankfully whisked away.
We stopped off and got some coffee and cake, organised our passports and tickets, sailed through customs and boarded our plane before it was due to leave.
Our flights were uneventful but inevitably boring. Well, except for some breath-taking moments:We transferred briefly at Changi airport in Singapore. We were hardly off the plane before we were loaded back on! Changi is a BIG airport compared to Perth (well, any airport is really) and we were a little dismayed that we couldn’t find our next flight on the flight schedule.
Thank goodness for information desks!
Arrival in Japan: Haneda Aiport
After 11 hours in the air I was more than a little excited and relieved to be on approach to Haneda. Landing here is amazing, not only because you can see the entirety of Tokyo in all its glory, but because you can easily see Fuji-san standing majestically and timelessly in the background.
Customs was extremely easy and efficient – we were in and out within ten minutes! Exiting the gate and into Japan we immediately hit a road-block – Monique’s cash passport wasn’t working properly. This was the first issue of many that we had with the cash passports. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post: take cash to Japan!
Next we reviewed our options for getting into Tokyo. There were quite a few:
- the Tokyo monorail line
- the Keikyu train line
- the Keikyu limosine bus or;
This was one aspect of our trip that had, incredibly, slipped both our minds. We ended up in a taxi.
While it was clean, and the driver knowledgeable and efficient, it was expensive costing us pretty much $70 AUD for a 15-20 minute trip! In hindsight we should’ve taken the Tokyo monorail. That would’ve delivered us to the Yamanote line at Hamamatsucho and we could’ve figured it out it from there. If you decide to take the monorail when you arrive, you’ll need 500 JPY for the trip.
We arrived in Roppongi at around 6.30am, tired but glad to be at our hotel.
Oh little did we know.
A quick but important note on early arrival
Hotel check-in in Japan tends to be late: around 3-4pm. If you’re arriving early (like really, really early) make sure to arrange an early check in! Otherwise you’re in a woooooorld of hurt. We didn’t end up checking in until 2pm (I think they took pity on us).
Put plainly, our first seven hours in Japan were horrible. We were tired, we didn’t speak the language, we didn’t know anything practical about where we were and while there is English signage it’s only very basic.
If you arrive in Japan early and for whatever reason haven’t arranged early check in, heed my advice and stay at the airport.
Everything you need is there (bank, food, transport, toilets), it’s heated/air conditioned and it’s normal to see people sleeping on chairs. Find a row of seats, lie down and take a nap. Then get something to eat, get some money out, use the wifi to jump online and talk to someone. Basically sort yourself out.
DO NOT take yourself into the middle of Tokyo tired, strung out and with nowhere to sleep. Its VERY stressful! In this state finding something like this just near the train station can really wig you out:Looking back at this now makes me laugh, but at the time, it was a nightmare.
Tokyo, Japan: fatigue-tinged first impressions
Tokyo is a massive, crowded city that is extremely busy and yet almost unbelievably efficient. Some people have jobs that exist simply to make a process more efficient and enjoyable.
The traffic is fast and furious, but again, driving seems like it’s very efficient and friendly. Pedestrians appear to have absolute right of way. So much so that very small children walk through the city to school on their own or with a friend.
Tokyo also feels very safe. I’m sure there are areas that are not so safe, especially for gaijin, but on the whole there was a very safe vibe. For example – receiving change when purchasing something. I clearly had no clue when it came to Japanese money but everyone I bought something from went to special lengths to show me that I’d received the correct change.
The Japanese are also very clean but not in a sterile way. When we arrived at our hotel, everyone was out early cleaning and sprucing their houses and roads. Some were creating or maintaining beautiful little gardens or displays. It seemed to be an activity that everyone cared about and it made the city feel so welcoming.
To me, Tokyo seemed like a ‘world within a world’ – on one street there’s a busy main road with another road built literally on top of it, crowded with cars, buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians. But one alleyway back it’s all little houses, quaint gardens and small izakaya.
The Japanese were fascinated with us and tended to stare a bit. Particularly at Monique’s face as she has a septum and cheek piercings.
So if you count yourself an ‘organisational wizard’ like I do, don’t miss that one important detail – early check-in. Otherwise you’re going to arrive to a situation that feels very out of control.
Next post: JPN-AU Power Adapters – time to get your MacGuyver on.
Until next time,
Kally & Mon.
[Feature Image Credit: Monique Nielsen]
[Image Credits (1,2): Monique Nielsen]
Have you ever been caught out by the early-arrival-late-check-in situation? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!