Arriving in the Land of the Rising Sun
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 2 of 22 › view all entries
October 9th, 2008 – by: bcbusdriver
Like I said I love Japan but for such a modern gadget crazy country their airport arrival areas in both Narita and Osaka's Kansai Airports have the coolness and excitement of a day old spam sandwich. I have been in hospitals with more character then the arrival hall at Narita. The good news is the airport is as efficient as one would expect in Japan and soon after arriving I had my luggage and I was through immigration and customs with the fewest of questions.
Once in the main part of the airport a quick ride down an escalator took me to a place to change some US currency (my summer tips) into Japanese Yen. Once I was flush with Japanese currency I only had to convery my Japan Rail voucher into a pass. Before I headed ot Japan I had bought a JR Pass for one week. For the cost of one return bullet train ride between Tokyo and Osaka I could ride any JR train as many times as I needed. I saved me a lot of money and if you are spending and time in Japan buy one of these passes from your travel agent before leaving home. You must buy these in your home country as they are not sold inside Japan.
Lucky for me the Narita JR office was directly across the hall from the currency exchange so the next step was easy. After a short wait, the office is very small and very busy, a young lady was helping me. She had some of the best English I heard during my one week in Japan, they must have their most proficient English speakers at the airport for all of tourists. Very quickly she had changed my voucher into a ticket and without asking she was booking me onto the JR Narita express train that would take me directly to Ueno Station in northwest Tokyo.
The ride to Ueno Station was a little over an hour and was uneventful. Ueno Station on the other hand was eventful. I have been in large station in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama but I think Ueno Station is larger, it certainly is harder to get around. The exit from this huge station must have been on the complete opposite side of the station from the platform I arrived on. I walked up and down stair, along long halls, was bounced around by middle aged ladies with their shopping and got completely lost before finally finding my exit. If you look carefully each information sign in the station had some English but it was many times smaller then the Japanese script and it often was not clear what it saying.
Once outside it took a few false starts before I was heading in the correct direction. A note on Japanese addresses, they do not make any sense. If you are looking for some place bring a compass and some very complete directions. Better yet make sure you go to that companies website and print out the directions they provide. Every business does this to help their customers find them.
I stayed at a hotel called the Oak Hotel which was recommended by another travel buddy member. The hotel is a bit of a hike from Ueno Station and is a bit hard to find as it is located at end of a small lane. However it is cheap, for Tokyo, and it clean and quite. I also enjoyed all the noodle shops that are located between Ueno Station.
It was a long day from my house in Vancouver to the hotel so I just checked in grabbed some quick food from the local Family Mart and crashed for the night. It was the beginning of a long trip and I was not ready to start it without a full nights sleep. While consuming a large bento box and trying understand a Japanese shop opera on TV and fell asleep.
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