Travelling to Japan

While I have had a love-hate relationship with Japan (the hate part being unfortunately caused by my breaking up with a former scholar of Japanese history), I never realized how much fun I would have visiting Japan until I actually did spend a full week in the country itself. I do speak rudimentary Japanese (thanks to The Ex Who Shall Not Be Named), so I felt that I was prepared to travel to Japan without much preparation. In fact, I will admit I rarely do any research on any place that I travel to. I’m an adventure traveller. I do as I go.

JR Train/Sky Access Line (Travel Shin-okubo to Narita Airport) Japan

Oh, how wrong was I NOT to have done any research. Seriously. I did not realize that:

  • I would have to use practically ONLY CASH just about everywhere.
  • I would need to speak Japanese (or do some sign language!) as English is not as widely spoken in Japan as I thought it was. Thank God for my rudimentary Japanese.
  • Japan was so expensive in some ways and so inexpensive in others. Seriously. Hotel rooms for $500 Canadian dollars? You have GOT to be kidding me.
  • Toilets are a case of its own. I really loved hotels that had Western-style (sit-down) toilets.

I was terribly unprepared to travel to Japan this time, but now I do have a basis for next year when I’m in Yokohama. The first thing I can recommend is: try to take as direct a flight as possible. I flew Mexico City-Dallas-Tokyo and I landed in the Tokyo-Narita International Airport, but given that Tokyo Haneda International Airport is a much nearer airport IN Tokyo itself, I probably should have done that.

JR Train/Sky Access Line (Travel Shin-okubo to Narita Airport) Japan

While I knew how to get to Shinjuku City in the Tokyo Prefecture (there are buses, which I took, and there’s also Japanese Rail, JR), it took me a little while to figure out how to navigate the JR train system (which very much like Paris’ metro system, is kind of confusing due to the fact that it involves several routes and different companies). I stayed in the Shin-okubo area of town, although I did go shopping to Asakusa and from a geographical standpoint, it probably would have made more sense to stay in Tokyo in the Asakusa shopping district.

Asakusa Shopping District

I promised myself that I would blog about my trip to Japan in detail, particularly because I think non-Japanese folks may not be aware of the subtleties and intricacies of travelling within Japan. Unfortunately I can’t say that I have the time, but I’ll be blogging about it as I find little pockets of time. Overall, I loved my time in Japan, and it taught me great lessons. In patience. In openness. And in checking incoming cars from the opposite direction!

Mishima (water and river restoration fieldwork for IASC 2013)

Related posts:

  1. Tokyo Plaza Hotel (Shin-okubo, Tokyo, Japan)
  2. West Inn Fujiyoshida (Fujiyoshida-Shi, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan)
  3. ‘Angel of the Sea’/World Japan Dolphins Day Recap and interview with CC
  4. Umeboshi in Japan, Chamoy in Mexico
  5. Cologne review: Tokyo (Kenzo)

Comments (1)

TEWSNBNJune 24th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Love reading your writings on Japan. Feels like a lifetime ago that I lived in Tokyo. Shin-Okubo is lots of fun; used to be a regular cheap food haunt of mine and I know that pedestrian mall very well. Glad you had a good time there. Japan has a way of getting under your skin and even five years after leaving the country I still miss it to death.

PS I’m very sorry I hurt you the way that I did. I never meant to do so.

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