Hello! I’m on holiday in Tokyo and decided it might be an idea to blog about it while I’m here. I’m not quite sure how interesting it’ll be to you guys, but at the very least it’ll be a nice way for me to remember what I did each day.
I’m writing this bit on a train, the Narita Express from the airport to Shinjuku. It’s a little while until I get to my stop, and it’s too dark outside to see anything so I thought I’d start writing. The time on my laptop is 11:26, the train says 19:25. My own personal time zone is somewhere in between. On the flight we were all served breakfast and I pulled open the window shutters to see what looked like sunrise but was actually sunset.
It was a good flight, though. I arrived at Heathrow pretty much just in time to check in some luggage. There was a bit of drama in front of me in the queue with a lost child being reunited with his distraught mother but soon I was off through security and my gate was being called for boarding already.
I flew with Emirates and the flight to Dubai was on an A380, one of the new super-jumbos. Looking out at it through the window, the scale of the aeroplane was obvious compared to the jets beside it. Wasn’t long before I boarded and I had a fantastic seat with loads legroom, as you can see to the right. The flight was pretty comfortable and the lunch was good. The entertainment system was superb, I watched a few episodes of The IT Crowd, Futurama and, entirely without irony, the Bill Murray film Lost in Translation. The plane also had cameras showing the views from the front and below the plane, which frankly made take-off and landing even more terrifying than usual.
I arrived in Dubai at midnight but the airport was still tremendously busy. As you can see from the photo below, it was really quite swish and there were plenty of shops to browse and places to eat, which helped to kill time between flights.
The second flight was a bit odd, purely for the mixed-up time zones everyone was working on. It left just after 3am Dubai time, so I think about midnight London time, and like many people I didn’t know whether to sleep or not – I thought that it might help me to settle into Tokyo time, where we’d be landing at 6pm just nine hours later, by not sleeping. But in the end I couldn’t help it. I enjoyed my film choices, the Henry Fonda classic 12 Angry Men and Scorese’s Shutter Island, which I didn’t have time to finish so I’ll have to wait until the flight home for the ending. I didn’t really go for the breakfast (something mushroomy and creamy) so chomped on a croissant instead and enjoyed the view of some islands below, with a clear sky.
And, then, before I knew it, I was landing at Narita Airport. There was a very crowded shuttle train to the main terminal, followed by baggage, passport control and customs and then finally I was out into the main part of the arrivals hall. I decided to turn on my phone to see if there was any wi-fi available and was approached by two police officers who, I think, just wanted a bit of a chat. Their English was very good although I cringingly had to ask them to repeat some things a few times. They took down my details (including my phone number which I completely forgot in that way you clam up and feel guilty when talking to police even if you’ve done nothing wrong) and headed to the train station to get my ticket for the express along with a Suica card (a bit like an Oyster card) in a special deal thing. It was all surprisingly easy as the nice lady behind the counter explained exactly what to do and where to go. Even so, as I went through the ticket barrier, I had a few brief seconds of blind panic as I wondered whether I was in the right place and would miss my train, before my head cleared and I came to my senses and made my way to the right part of the platform with plenty of time to spare.
And that’s where I am now. The train is just pulling out of its first stop, Tokyo station, where it’s separated into two halves going in different directions. About 20 minutes until it arrives in Shinjuku, I think. It’s a nice, comfortable train, not at all busy and has lots of information screens all around. Once I arrive at Shinjuku I guess the real fun begins, as I have to walk to my hotel a couple of blocks away from the station. If you’re reading this, it means I made it there in one piece and will continue writing this in my hotel room….
Right, and as if by magic, here I am in my room, several hours later. It was all a surprisingly easy process, I made my way out of the station, down a pedestrianised lane (where I was taken aback by a huge clock tower, I’ll try to take a photo of it tomorrow) and then turned and walked across a bridge, where I spotted my hotel and took a photo of it (it’s on the left):
From there, I just went down an escalator and walked into the impressive hotel lobby and checked myself in. I’ve unpacked and settled in and ready to explore the city starting with Shubuya and Harajuku tomorrow. But for now, I feel like I really, really need some sleep. Which is a good thing, because it’s not even 5pm UK time, so it hopefully means I’m settling in. Let’s see what time I wake up tomorrow, though!