Into the Land of the Rising Sun
And off to Japan!
Saturday found us pretty early, waking up at 5:00 in the morning to catch the 5:30 bus to the airport for our 8:40 departure out of Incheon. The bus that arrived only had one available seat, so we had to wait for an additional half hour for a second bus to show up. I suppose you could say we had nail biting moments for the entire trip when it came to getting to the airport.
The flight went well enough, and about 2 hours later we found ourselves in Japan. (I find it so amazing that a 2-2.5 hour flight can take me to Japan or China, other countries! A 2-2.5 hour flight in central Texas usually meant I’d still be in Texas when I landed.) After going through customs and retrieving our bag, we went off to find the metro into Tokyo. I need to mention that neither of us had a clear idea as to the exchange rate between US dollars and Japanese yen, and that I didn’t have a map printed out for our Tokyo hotel. We bought a 2 Day Metro Pass and 1-Way Ticket on the Keisei Skyliner before going to figure out our train tickets to Kyoto. The man who helped us purchase and organize our Kyoto tickets was the best person we encountered in Japan. Not only did he secure our tickets to and from Kyoto, he made sure we would have plenty of time before our flight left and ensured us seats on an express airport train we would not have known to take otherwise. He was great.
We transferred a couple of times to a metro station I mistakenly believed was near our hotel. After some time trying to adjust to our new surroundings, asking at least three people and a cop how to find our hotel, and walking several blocks, we checked in to find that “in-flight meals are more spacious” than our room. It was amusing to say the least.
First on our to-do list was make our way to Odaiba for the life-size (59′) Gundam. What can I say, I’m a fangirl! Figuring out the Tokyo metro wasn’t nearly as discouraging or overwhelming as I thought it would be. It is a bit frustrating that not all the lines are represented on one map, but purchasing tickets for private lines was pretty straight-forward. Rolling into Odaiba over the Rainbow Bridge, I spotted a building that I recognized from my childhood.
How is that possible? I watched a ton of anime as a kid, and this particular building featured in the first season of Digimon. Cue the beginning of fangirl glee. We stopped for lunch at a burger joint and then walked around the park hoping to find the mecha. When we eventually did find it, I’m pretty sure I squealed with delight. And then it MOVED. Talk about a dream come true.
Our next stop was Tokyo Tower, and again, this was purely for the anime I had watched growing up. I had no interest in actually going up the tower. It’s modeled after the Eiffel in Paris, which I have already done, so really, no thanks. I was quite taken by the red color, though. Zoji temple was nearby, and since we weren’t planning on going to Sensoji, we decided this would be the next best thing. Apparently it was some kind of summer festival because we couldn’t go anywhere without seeing several women in kimonos. It was quite beautiful. Everyone was attending the festival at the temple. People were dancing traditional dances, children were running around, food was being served, and music was playing. It was definitely a fantastic cultural experience to witness.
Last year, I watched the movie Lost in Translation, which takes place in Tokyo. (Yes, I do recommend it.) Jess and Meagan had gone to the hotel bar prominently featured in the movie, so we decided to make an appearance there as well. As it turns out, we chose the wrong hotel. Seeing as it was time for dinner, that didn’t cause too much of a bother since we ate in one of the hotel restaurants. The food was delicious!. We returned to our hotel and watched some of the Olympics before calling it a day.