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Tokyo 2009 - Day 1

Tokyo Travel Blog

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02:30 AM, Amsterdam time: Somewhere above China hoping not to get shot down by air defense missiles.

It’s been exactly one year since i’ve last visited Japan’s capital city Tokyo. And what a long year it has been, I was initially hellbent on going twice a year to the land of the rising sun after that impressive trip in 2008 but alas fate was a rather cruel dealer.I’m typing this whilst sitting in the plane, if you can even call it typing; economy class is so cramped that it’s rather quite the chore however i’m willing to put up with it for now due to the extreme boredom i’m stricken with. The couple next to me seem to be particularly interested in photography; something that could spark a conversation seeing as I share that passion however i’m not in the talkative mood right now.It’s sure been a hectic day of many, many last second acfions to be able to even get to the airport on time, then exchanging monye at the ABN amro at the airport I got ripped off with the exchange rate, urgh.I’m sure that once i’m actually settled in my hotel room located in Ueno (4 minutes from Akihabara !) and with a camera in hand thati’ll finally be able to be at peace and start enjoying myself. I’m luckily on a direct flight, flying KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) from Amsterdam to Narita airport. The flight time is 10 hours and 30 minutes cause we have alot of tailwind to help push the aircraft fasterNot too fast I hope, I don’t wanna experience “Top Gun” in a cow of a 747-400.

Speaking of the airplane, what the fuck KLM !? They still have the ancient entertainment system; the one that has screens in the ceiling at certain spots ? Luckily my portable media player is loaded with stuff so i don;’t have to get a cramp looking up the whole time ! They really need those small screens that’re infront of you; like every other airline company has by now. OH well; I can’t really complain. After all.my ticket was only 530 euro’s which is alot less than I paid last year to go in the same period (980) Well, time to turn off the laptop and get some shut eye, I;’m in  luck. No screaming kids, no crying babies and the whole plane is 99% iflled with very polite and not obese Japanese people ! Hurray !


14:23, local time Japan : Currently in the Keisei Skyliner enroute to Ueno.

You got to love Japanese effeciency. It took me only 1 hour to get from the plane, all the way trough emigration/baggage & customs check till the moment I was standing with my luggage on the platform for the Keisei Skyliner, bound for Ueno; which is the part of Tokyo i’ll be staying at. Unlike Tobin and Yuzo; I’m not staying in the adult cespool that is Shinjuku; tough I might indulge next year :-) Most people are unaware that when you arive at Narita airport, you aren’t actually in Tokyo. As  it’s name implies  the airport lies in the small city of Narita. which is around 65 to 70 KM away from Tokyo’s city borders. It takes the Keisei Skyliner 1 hour to get  to it’s final destination; Ueno. You can opt for the cheaper; slower regular lines, or take a different JR line to other parts of Tokyo such as Shinjuku (with the NEX)  Even cheaper are the busses, but I really don’t wanna take 3 hours to get to Ueno so the Keisei skyliner it is. One thing you will notice as a Westerner when stepping  into a Japanese train is that it’s silent. Ridiculously silent.
You are not allowed to make phonecalls in trains, the express liners have the exemption that you can call in between cars but that’s the limit. People generally just zone out with their cellphones , listen to music in peace or read a book.  Let’s not forget drink dispenser machines and you’re set or one comfy ride in silence.  Something they should do in my country; effing students and their loud smack talk about pointless things. Ha ! First thing I have to do when arriving at Ueno is to re-charge my 1 year old SUICA card. SUICA stands for Suburban Intelligent Card. It’s essentially a chip card that  you can charge with currency and use troughout the public transport system of Japan, and even make small purchases at fending machines and supermarkets without needing to bother with small change; it’s absolutely essential for getting around as you don’t want to bother buying seperate tickets-  which  to my surprise you actually still can do in Tokyo. I just hoipe my SUICA card still works , it’s been a year since I last used it; it’s supposed to be valid for 10 years tough so that isn’t the issue.

15:30 Local time Japan (from now on all times will be Japan standard unless otherwise indicated)|

Arrived in my hotel room’ it’s not too big but it’s more than enough for 1 person and it certainly is 3 times bigger than your avarage student housing back in  Amsterdam.   I have one of those funky electronic toilets that wash your ass after your done with your business; including a toilet seat warming mechanism which is quite nice for those winter periods.  A 26 or so inch LCD TV wich when turned on displayed censored Japanese porn…  and to my amusement only 40 cm’s away from the TV  were a box of cleenex tissues �" so wrong !The internet is free so laptop hookup engaged ! Ready to roll !  Time to unpack some stuff and get some supplies at Akihabara.

20:05 : AKihabara

Did some grocary shopping at 7/11, withdrew some cash from the ATM at the proper currency exchange rate and tried out a few new drinks ! I mean Tokyo really is a city where you can try out the most outlandish things. What you ask ? Well things like Pepsi Azuki (Red bean) something that Yuzo tempted me into trying. Or ” Limon & Nada” a brilliant twist on the word lemonade.
How did tasting new things fare ? Find out soon enough ! I taped a video of my “First encounter” experience ; which i`ll be doing a series off so please wait whilst  that gets it’s way to Youtube eventually. After grocaries stopped by Akihabara; again, to relax and play some arcade games and walk around enjoying the hustle & bustle of things; was surprised to see there  still being a huge queue infront of Go Go curry ; which doesn’t seem “Go Go ” at all but more like “Wait Wait” curry. Tough supposedly the stuff they have there is amazing. So I will have to dare the line sooner than later.

Took a few nice creative pictures around the UDX building; which was lit up beautifully in anticipation of the Christmas season. That is; untill an annoyed security guard from the UDX building started to order me not to take any pictures �" despite the fact i wasn’t even photographing people in secret (which is the number 1 offense in Japan it seems) nor were there *any* people at all on any of my pictures; what a bummer.  Oh well I took all the shots i wanted before he came to me anyway.

Having said that; it’s time to sign off for tonight. It’s still quite early , 11 PM I would never sleep this early back at home but after being awake for 30 hours ; God; I need some sleep !

Tomorrows highlights include : Yoyogi park, a grand Akiba walktrough (shops were closed mostly when I hit Akiba today) maid cafe visits and a Gundam: Senjou no Kizuna meetup (it’s a popular arcade game)

Tune in tomorrow for more wacky shannigans :)

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photo by: maka77