I jumped about 10 time zones (and crossed the international date line) today, so when I say that my day began at 5am on the 25th and ended at 1am on the 27th, you might have a better idea of how that came to be. My day started in St. Paul, Minnesota and ended in Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan after two airplane rides. I passed over Canada and Russia on my journey to the island nation of Japan.
After an airplane ride that felt like it lasted 36 hours rather than the 13 it actually was, I was cast into the international arrivals section of the airport. There, my friend Claire and I walked for a long time until we reached Immigrations. I was asked to place my index fingers on a fingerprint scanner, and then directed to one of the many booths for foreigners. I had previously filled out a couple cards which I was given while on the plane, and when I stepped up to the booth, a man took the papers and my passport, did some things, and then returned my passport and one of the papers. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was at this point that I had received my visitor visa stamp. I was directed around the booth through a very small walkway, met up with Claire on the other side, and then we both went down a set of stairs to baggage claim.
This room was huge, with at least 6 oval-shaped carousels to pick up checked bags. We grabbed our stuff and then got into one of the many lines for Customs. Eventually, I handed a woman my passport and remaining card, and she asked about the purpose and duration of my stay, then gave my passport to me and sent me on my way. After that, I was officially free to roam about in Japan.
I found it interesting how throughout this entire process, everything seemed very parallelized to expedite the process. There wasn’t any single point where I was waiting for a long time, things just kept moving. Of course, we never stopped moving after this point, either.
After being greeted by a wall of humidity (that you never escape from), Claire and I grabbed a couple pocket Wifi units which we had previously ordered along with our Japan Rails passes, met up with a third member of our party who goes by his nickname “Bucky”, and then grabbed a few tickets for the next Skyliner train into Tokyo.
Heading into Tokyo started out with a bunch of countryside views and the occasional shopping area. Eventually, I noticed a definite line where the fields stopped and the city started… and kept on going. Buildings quickly became much more tightly packed together and at odd angles relative to the train line we were on. I found it impressive how these buildings were so close to the train line. It made me wonder how the line ended up there in the first place… were buildings removed, or did buildings just develop around an existing pathway?
The rest of our journey consisted of going to Shinjuku to meet up with the folks at Sakura House, signing some papers and getting the keys to our two apartments, meeting up with the 4th member of our party, “Xara”, as well as one of the guests we’ve had on our radio show before, Nelson, and then travelling northward towards our apartments to (finally) set down all of the 100+ pounds of luggage we had been ferrying around town and on city trains the entire time. Oh, and the 5th member of our party, “Fanzy”, who had become separated from Xara at some point in their travels, was waiting for us at the apartment.
Aftwards, we went to an Italian restaurant for some pizza and pasta, then walked back to our place to retire for the night.
I was completely exhausted, and after figuring our how the AC worked, sleep came easy. Our group has realized that we’re going to need some basic supplies such as towels, soap, and other basic necessities. We’re living in Japan for a month, so let’s dive right in.