NYC to Tokyo - again!
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 1 of 15 › view all entries
My third visit to Japan in 3 years and the flight was smooth as it was before.
I bought my plane ticket 2 weeks before I left - a nonstop flight from Newark to Narita/Tokyo for $800 via Continental. Sweet! Of course, I just had to party the night before, get totally trash and this time, decided to pack 3 hrs before the airport shuttle van picks me up from my place. Hmmm... This is definitely becoming a routine.
Thursday morning, I left Newark/NYC. I ate, slept, watched a movie (while the meal came), slept, and watched a movie (again when it was meal time) until it was time to land. Yup! Definitely routine as I slept my way through the flight except during meal times. And arrived Friday afternoon. It was a 14-hr nonstop flight!
It was smooth sailing as I cross the immigration and I think the officer just gave me a weird look after seeing the 2 other visas they have posted on my passport on my previous visits.
I'm staying in a different area of Tokyo this time so I hopped on train and got off Nippori Station and transferred to the Yamanote Line to Ikebukuro! Total cost = 1,160yen.
The room was small and clean - typical of Japanese size) but perfectly adequate for my needs with its full-size bed and tiny sized bathroom. Slippers, a robe, towels, shampoo/conditioner, toobrush and the like were already provided. Ah, the efficient Japanese.
I grabbed my phones (US and Japan), my wallet, travel guide book, made sure I had my SUICA card, and I was out the door. Walking briskly back to Ikebukuro Station, I hopped on the Yamanote Line and 20 minutes and 10+ emails/sms later (spent the entire time inputting my friends' number from my US phone into my Japanese phone, then emailing everyone I was in Japan), I was in Shibuya! The meeting place was at the ever popular Hachiko Statue (I think my friends and I always meet up here whenever we meet up in Shibuya - and so does everyone else in Tokyo/Japan!).
Amidst the crowd in Shibuya Station on Friday night, I easily found my way through the mob and exited the station to Hachiko Statue. I had to call my friend because there was a crowd around the statue that it was just difficult to find anyone there! And then, there she was - Izumi! My friend from NYC to moved back to Japan after college!
I met a few of her friends joining us for dinner - most were from her college years in California and one I have already met from my previous visit (Oct 2008). We walked to the izakaya where we were having dinner. The tables are small and in rooms like miniature houses with stone walkways. Very intimate and relaxed. It was definitely for Japanese only because no one seems to speaks English. The benefits of knowing locals. Beers and plates were ordered.
Izumi's friend, Ayami - a partier and who used to live in Roppongi - guided us to Feria Tokyo. This multi-level lounge/club is wonderful. A lounge on the first floor, a more intimate bar on the 2nd, and a more carefree bar on the 3rd level with access to an outdoor sitting area!
After checking out each floor, we stayed at the rooftop area. It was cold despite the outdoor heating - it was mid January afterall! After a few minutes we went back in and checked out the lower level bar were most people seem to hang out. The place quickly got crowded. A mix of Japanese and ex-pats/tourists, it was quite easy and acceptable for me to assume I was in NYC! I ordered myself Hypnotiq on the rocks (I just can't seems to get a decent Cosmo outside of NYC) and I needed a break from beer after that izakaya dinner. A friend of Ayami's Toshiro joined us, who speaks English really well - he lived in the US for a few years when he was younger and also studied abroad for a year.
By 4am, we were done. But not quite..... we were hungry.
We found a ramen shop just a couple of blocks away and had a sobering early morning meal before splitting up at 5am. We took a cab back to Shibuya where the stations finally opened and we can catch all our trains.... It was half past 5am when I arrived back to my room - a private room and I wasn't even there the entire night! What a waste! It was a long first night in Tokyo on my third visit to Japan.
Shower and a couple hours of nap time, I was out the door again.... This time for a long weekend of onsen in Gunma Prefecture!