Friday, March 18, 2011

Our First Evening in Tokyo

We left Houston at 6:30 am on Wednesday and got to Japan at 3:30 pm on Thursday. There is a 15 hour time difference. The main airport is in Narita, so we had to take a train into Tokyo. We had to change to a local train once reaching Tokyo. The train system in Tokyo is amazingly efficient. You usually only have to wait 2-4 minutes to go in either direction. It's amazing. Anyway, by the time we took the trains and got to our hotel room, we were really tired. Alex hadn't slept at all and I'd only had two 30 minute naps. We checked in and then got back on the train to go explore a little bit and eat some dinner. We were trying to stay up until at least 9 pm.

We went back one train station to Ueno. We decided to walk around a bit. This was our first 'taste' of Japan and my first shock was that we were the only non-Japanese people we saw! The train station is kind of like a plane station - there are a few restaurants and small shops inside. We headed outside to check out the main streets.

This isn't a very good photo, but we stopped and listened to this street performer.

Besides the train system, bicycling is the primary form of transportation. We got used to seeing bikes parked everywhere - and dodging them while we walked! We even watched official 'bike parkers' (my term) who would repark the bikes by picking them up & placing them closer together! It took us awhile, but we finally figured out they are locked around the back wheel so no one else can ride them.

We'd read about these "Capsule Hotels" before we left, and Alex really wanted to stay in one. The closest we got, though, is this photo. The 'rooms' are actually just little cubbies, usually stacked 3 high, where you can sleep. It sounds kind of claustrophobic to me! Most of them are for men only and are used by workers who miss the last long train ride home.

Here's my brother getting us train tickets. You have to look at what stop you are at and where you are going and pay that amount per person. Children's fares are less than adult's. My brother would push a photo that showed 2 adults & 1 child, and then buy another ticket for 1 adult. (His girlfriend traveled with us the first 3 days.) This was much easier after we figured out how to switch the machines to English!

Here's a photo of the complicated train routes. My brother did most of the planning, though I was figuring it out in the end.This sign doesn't show the stops in English, but most of the signs were bilingual.

I think this photo is actually from the next morning. It is kind of funny that my camera didn't know I was in a different time zone, so the photos aren't actually sorted by my Japanese days! Anyway, I liked that some train cars were for "Women Only" during the morning rush hour. We had to watch for these signs as my brother wouldn't have been allowed!


Rhonda said...

Wow, it is a good thing that you had your brother to guide you. I would have been completely lost with everything. No way would I have wanted to sleep in that itty bitty "Capsule Hotel" No way! Alex is very brave.

Mama Teaching 3 said...

What a fun trip! Thankyou for sharing it so well with us here back home. :) I am so glad you are home safe.

Carrie Thompson said...

I had remembered reading you were goign on a trip and I kept thinking it was JAPAN, but when I would get home I would forget to check! I finally remembered sitting here and am SOOO glad you got back before it hit! That is incredible. I will be praying for your brother's wife's family (did I get that right?) Have you heard from them yet. I cant believe all the amazing thing Alex has gotten to do!!!!

Robin said...

It's always nice to go somewhere with someone who knows the ins and outs of a system. And your posts will help the rest of us. I would love to go somewhere special like this. You're so lucky to have had the opportunity and experiences. Thanks for sharing all the pictures!

Anonymous said...

Wow I imagine if all the signs are in japanese its will be verry complicated

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