Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Japan Trip Part 2: Day log

In the previous post I discussed my initial planning and costs for my two-week trip to Japan that I took last month, this post will just be about my personal notes as I wrote them up on what I did each day as well as some choice pictures. The whole picture gallery can be found here.


I left the morning of the 15th PST from Seattle, had a brief stop in San Francisco, then continued on to Tokyo and arrived on the 16th local time in the afternoon. I made it to the hotel (Hotel Villa Fontaine) around 4:30pm. The main flight was long but not as bad as it could have been, I had just enough leg room and could stand and stretch. The extra leg room upgrade was the correct choice. I managed to avoid using the crapper but it was quite the relief to land and use the first one I found at the airport. ;) I didn't test out the well-known common spray features until I got to the hotel though.

I had to pick up my pocket wifi from an area in the airport, which went fine, but then I accidentally left a paper with some useful first-day notes I made for myself on it so had to go back and get it. Hit my first language barrier trying to explain I left a paper there 10 minutes ago but I was understood and they found it.

I bought a Pasmo card and loaded $100 onto it, this saves me from having to deal with individual tickets for the train/subway station systems. Just scan in, and when you scan out at the destination it deducts the right amount. Google Maps is invaluable for telling you what systems you need to take (as well as some alternatives) but fortunately there are many signs to help direct you to the right location and overall it's pretty straightforward.

I was a sweaty mess checking in since I was wearing my heavy coat and hauling my suitcase -- the underground stations are very warm compared to outside. There was a 7-11 across the street from my hotel, so after I checked in and freshened up a bit I just went over and bought some interesting drinks and snacks to eat before going to bed. Tried out the toilet later, having a heated seat is nice and I'm now in favor of the spray + paper system but given a choice of one over the other I'd take the paper. (Japan seems to agree because many public toilets just had paper.)

I found the extra politeness immediately noticeable but pretty endearing too. Especially how people would hand me things like my credit card or passport with both hands, like it was some precious object.

A few mornings later I took a couple pictures from my room's window. My hotel wasn't the highest but it was high enough.

Here are a couple blurry pictures of the bathroom. Compact, but functional. I had to bend my head a bit in the shower, but the tub itself is deeper than my tub at home, about the same width, and only a bit shorter.

Here's a video walkthrough:

The bed was pretty firm, and I'm used to sleeping in a hammock, but after a few nights of adjustment I was fine.


Got up around 8am, had breakfast at the hotel. It was pretty decent. Their scrambled eggs were of the runny variety which I don't like as much as the firm variety but they tasted fine. Over the various days they had "bacon" (it was just ham strips), sausages, rice, curry, salads, breads/rolls, orange juice... Not bad at all.

I had nothing planned ahead of time for today in case I needed to sleep more. So I initially just left and started wandering. I found my way to the Tokyo Dome area, there's a virtual "city" area there with lots of shops and restaurants. So many familiar US brands, too. I noticed there were some lights so I made a note to come back one night.

Decided to make my way to Akihabara. (Nerd town.) Wow. The economics of that place make no sense. So many "UFO" style crane-games, arcade machines (only one DDR machine I saw), figurines and plushies for sale, lots of manga and books, lots of electronics (and not just consumer electronics, they've got everything for hobbyist engineers too like specific chips, switches, soldering irons, oscilloscopes, lots of older RF or audio equipment..) and what's more is so much of it was the same stuff shop after shop. I bought a couple things, had a good katsu chicken lunch at one of the maid cafes where all the waitresses were dressed in cute french maid outfits.

One of the cat cafes I wanted to visit was in the area, so I went. (Images 268 through 285 in the gallery.) They had a few big maine coon cats as well as maybe a dozen others.

Fortunately none of them looked like Walker or I would have gotten sad instead of finding the place nice and peaceful.

I stayed for about an hour, then headed back to the hotel, stopping for some snacks along the way. A donut shop had some ok donuts but still far below the quality of the best donut shop out here in Redmond... I just had more 7-11 stuff for dinner, walked a lot today and was beat. It was only about 8pm but decided to sleep then. Plus I had a Tokyo bus tour scheduled for the morning. I was sort of concerned how small the buses would be, considering how I towered over most people (though I did see, more than I expected, several people taller / much wider than me) but turned out they were fine, generally a bit better than the airplane seats.


I booked a Tokyo bus tour for today. Normally they have everyone meet them at a certain spot, but they were also doing pickups from certain hotels and other locations. I got picked up around 7:30am from a McDonalds that was about a ten minute walk from my hotel. The bus was actually a couple minutes late (!), most things were right on time though. After a bus switcheroo at the original meeting place once everyone had been picked up (some were going on a Mt. Fuji tour), we were off with our guide Jack from Australia. Our first stop was the Imperial Palace front gate.

There was also a statue of Kusunoki Masashige, an important samurai.

People normally can't go into the palace grounds except on the Emperor's birthday or New Year's.

Next we went to Asakusa and visited the Senso-ji Buddhist temple there, which is Japan's oldest temple. Our guide told us a bit about it then gave us some time to wander around.

There were also a few shrines around, and right outside a bunch of food stalls.

Just past the food stalls was a long street packed full of people and various shops. Again I was amazed at how the economics of all this shopping can work out. This was about the only place people came up to me, took some photos of three women traveling together and two school girls were completing a survey.

After that the tour continued to the Tsukiji fish market. Apparently it's moving soon so it was neat to see it while I still could, but I was again amazed at the mysterious economics of it all. I wonder if Pike's Place in Seattle used to be like this? But the seafood was fresh and there was also a lot of cooked street food to buy, I had a pretty big and delicious shrimp on a stick.

We drove through some other parts of Tokyo (Harajuku, Ginza, Chibuya, Roppongi) and some were pointed out as potential dropoff points later once the tour was over. Saw the godzilla statue on godzilla street, saw a sumo walking around in his kimono, and we traveled over Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba for lunch. I saw some people Go Karting in Mario Kart outfits.

Odaiba has one of the three statues of liberty that France gave to Japan. It was kind of surreal to see. A lot smaller than America's but looks the same. (Rainbow Bridge is in the background.)

Amusingly we had lunch at an American-style buffet. Pretty similar to Old Country Buffet / Chuckorama.

After that we took a short ferry back to the main city.

I took the stop at Harajuku and wandered around. Another big street with mysterious economic sense.

But there was also a big Meiji shrine, however it would be dark soon so I made a note to visit again later. I wandered around a few buildings, went up to the roof area of one that had a Starbucks and got a few photos of the city scape but they didn't turn out that well. After that I made my way back to the hotel, tired and worn out (a common theme!). I think I had a 7-11 sandwich for dinner (was still quite full from the buffet), I like these things:

and I found a tasty canned coffee:


Today the only thing I had planned was going to the Robot Restaurant in the evening, I wanted a buffer day because tomorrow I'd have another tour.

I decided to go visit the Edo-Tokyo museum, which the tour guide had mentioned was really interesting, unfortunately they were closed for renovations until March! Bummer. But something to do for the next trip. I decided to find the bus terminal where the tour meeting would happen tomorrow since it was about 35 minutes optimal travel time and I wanted to see how straightforward it was. I did mess up a bit (coming out of a station's underground can be disorienting and I misinterpreted one of the direction signs..) and it took me about an hour, so I made sure to buffer that for tomorrow morning.

After that I wandered around. I found a really old garden that was neat. Kyu-Shiba-rikyu Gardens. It became the official Edo residence of the top ranking man of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1678. Pretty much all of the trees and buildings were wiped out in the earthquake of 1923 but it was restored. The stones though, and the stone bridge, are still from the early days.

After that I started to wander again, in the general direction of Shinjuku where the Robot Restaurant is. I saw what looked like the Tokyo Tower in the distance and headed that way. Along the way I ran into Zojo-ji, another big temple.

That cedar tree in the middle was apparently planted by President/General Grant in the 1870s.

After that I continued on to Tokyo Tower and had lunch there.

I guess I don't need to see the Eiffel Tower now, since the Tokyo Tower looks the same but is a bit taller. :)

I continued walking towards Roppongi this time. There were many random Shinto shrines along the way, I stopped at some of them. Found a small park area with a small stream and geysers, rested for a while since I had walked a lot today.

I eventually made it to where the Robot Restaurant was, and also realized this is where Godzilla Street is too.

I had some time to kill so I wandered around. They had the arcade buildings and UFO crane games here, too. One more DDR machine, fortunately this one was being played by a couple, if not I might have been tempted to play but then my feet would regret it. By the time the day would be over I'd walk 32,500 steps! For me that's somewhere between 12-17 miles.

I played Pokken for the first time, it's not a bad Pokemon fighting game, I fortunately got the tutorial before my first online fight so even through the Japanese text I could figure out how to play and some combos. I still lost the online match, I think it was best of 3, but I won one round... There was also an old light gun arcade game I'd never heard of that I had to play. It's actually composed of lots of minigames.

Eventually it was time for the Robot Restaurant show.

It's amazing, I can't really say much more than that, has to be experienced.

After that I made my way back to the hotel. I took the most direct subway route.


Today I had a tour up to Nikko scheduled. The agenda was first to visit the Toshogu Shrine, where the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate is buried. Additionally there is a Buddhist temple. We did stop by a sort of pit-stop on the way up since it was a little over an hour by bus, but soon we arrived.

There is a building with several art pieces of the classic 'three monkeys'. There's a story to it but I don't recall the details.

The building in the back is supposedly an outhouse reserved for the gods.

The entrance area.

This bell was gifted by Korea to honor the shogun.

Maybe this chandelier too, I don't recall.

This lantern thing I think was gifted by the Dutch.

But amusingly they got the Seal upside down...

Two of the three leaves are supposed to be on the bottom. You'll see in a bit.

Speaking of other "mistakes", this column is upside down compared to the other three:

But it was supposedly intentional, so that there will always be something left to do for the work to be "finished". If something isn't "finished", it doesn't age.

The decorations everywhere were just amazing though.

Through a portal watched over by a sleeping cat...

(And on the other side, two birds able to be there presumably since the cat is asleep.)

Then up a bunch of stairs...

and through another torii (note the proper Seal on it):

And you get to the centerpiece/burial site.

By the way there are lots of stone turtles (kame) around. A few are around the tomb.

Back down, there's a building that you can go in if you take your shoes off. No pictures inside, but it was very beautiful. (And of course there's some construction going on, it's never "finished".)

More random amazing decor.

As mentioned before there's also a Buddhist temple here too.

Again no pictures, but the most impressive part of the walkthrough is the "crying/roaring dragon" demonstration. In the biggest room there's a giant dragon on the ceiling. You can clack two sticks together anywhere in the room and it'll be a fairly dull sound, but if you clack them under the dragon's mouth, it will ring and echo out.

It was soon time to go back to the bus and head down the road a ways to get lunch at the place on the left.

I'm not quite sure how to describe what we had. :) I didn't take any pictures until I was finished. But it was pretty good. The only thing I didn't eat was a big mushroom.

At the bottom of the building is sort of a souvenir / goods shop. I got some daifuku that was delicious (to me it's kind of like an improved turkish delight), it didn't last long when I was back at the hotel.

After lunch we continued on to Lake Chuzenji, where a lot of foreign ambassadors have set up. We stopped briefly to take some photos.

To get to the lake we had to take a steep (thankfully for the bus, one-way) road with many switchbacks. There's an interesting poem associated with the road. The road is Irohazaka and has 48 corners. The poem Iroha makes use of the 48 characters in the Japanese syllabary exactly once each. The way down was even steeper than the way up, so it was neat to see our bus driver handle it with such apparent ease.

A little way from the top though we stopped at Akechidaira Plateau. There's a few little gift shops / food shops and some pretty good ice cream at this place.

But also a nice view of Kegon Waterfall.

And other various nice views.

After that we headed back to the city. There was an interesting bit of info on Japan's freeways. They have tolls everywhere, but instead of something sensible like an automatic IR reader of a windshield barcode sticker + license plate photos, for those who don't want to slow down and pay the toll at a classic toll booth, drivers have to buy an expensive (~$200) "ETC" machine. When they get close to a toll, they insert an auth card, and the machine transmits a signal that will deduct the toll from the account. But it's hard to tell that it's successful because there are little toll gates, and they don't spring open to let you pass until pretty close to the last moment.

We did make one last stop at a sort of pit-stop to get food/bathroom/whatever. As I mentioned before, I am quite fond of these little chicken sandwiches.

One final side note, there were two Japanese girls on the bus who constantly made the "ehhhhhh" sound you find emitted by ehh-chans in some animes. Kawaii. ;)


Today was a rest day. I got up in time for the hotel's breakfast, then I went back to sleep for a while. Got up later and did some planning for the rest of the trip. Around 3pm I left and had a late lunch at a Sichuanese place nearby that I found on google maps. I'm not quite sure what I ate (there was some meat and tofu..), the system is you order from a vending machine and then give the ticket to the chefs, but it was delicious. I foolishly thought I could handle a 4/5 spice and had a coughing fit near the end but worth it. Here's a blurry pic.

After it got dark I made my way up to the Tokyo Dome area to check out the christmas lights there. It was pretty neat. They also had all the rides like the roller coaster going.

Later I got back to the hotel. One of the tour guides mentioned that while Uber was pretty actively being fought by the taxi industry (apparently Uber's only allowed to run their black car service), things like UberEats are available. I wanted to support them so I got a pretty good tonburi with garlic and egg as extra bits. I think there'd be a niche market for a dish that where instead of having rice underneath the layer of pork belly, there's just more meat.


Today was the day my JR pass activated and first thing on my agenda was to visit Fox Village.

Getting on the bullet train wasn't too difficult. I found the office (a guard helpfully pointed me in the right direction when I asked for the "midori no...") and reserved a seat. I was more worried about how big the seats would be. But they're actually quite roomy, with lots of leg room and you can recline without worrying about being a dick to the person behind you.

Anyway, after you get off the bullet train, there's a local bus that sometimes runs by the village but I just decided to get a taxi. I think it ended up being something like $20 each way, which is kind of a lot for one person, but whatever.

I took a lot of photos/videos. I even had my main camera's battery die and had to use my phone camera. It was so nice seeing all the foxes, and I even got to hold one for a bit. Here's a few select photos but in the main gallery they start at IMG_0601 through IMG_0679, and the phone-camera ones start at IMG_20171222_103626 through IMG_20171222_122957.

Main entrance sight.

This guy and a white one later seemed to have some head wounds of some sort. They are wild... (Some are kept in cages for various reasons, and the whole village is enclosed, though there are spots that can open to the surrounding wilderness. I don't really know how much they're let out into the wilderness if at all. But they still act pretty wild, just fairly tame. They recommend that for the foxes not meant for petting, you don't pet, because chances are good they'll bite. I saw one guy who seemed to be trying to intentionally test his limits. :) One fox snuck up behind him while he was crouched and tried to grab his bag, but the guy seemed ok with it.)


Some dominance displays or something.

You can buy treats to throw to the foxes from the platform of this building.

And here's me holding one. So sofffft.

Lots of random dominance displays. Foxes make interesting noises.

Little path through some torii up to a shrine..

This guy only had three legs! But he seemed to be doing just fine still.

Young foxes are pretty loud too.

Fox shrine.

Camera battery died shortly after...

For some reason they had a few other animals here too.

Anyway eventually I wrapped up my visit, made some purchases at the store, waited for a cab, and eventually made it back to the train station.

I was pretty worn out by the time I got back to the hotel. UberEats to the rescue!

And later in the evening I had some TV programs going... When I was a kid they had on PBS some late-night math programs aimed at GED-level viewers. In japan, I guess such a thing is too simple.

Physics with calculus!


Today I went to Enoshima island, a short trip from Tokyo on a JR line (so I could use my pass) mainly in the hopes of seeing some cats (not much luck unfortunately, only saw a few) but it still turned out to be a very enjoyable trip. Lots of walking of course. (27.5k steps according to my phone.) The island is basically set up to have you hike past some shrines to the top where a lighthouse is, then down a ways to a cave entrance and maybe then around the side back to the front of the island. But the cave was shut down for visitors, because (as you'll later see) "the typhoon" in the recent past kind of destroyed all the railings and such, so you walk to the 'end' then walk back. After the main trail I walked around to the rocky beach side where there were many fishermen and I got pretty far along the coast, if I was better prepared it would have been possible I think to get to the cave. Some swimming possibly involved. ;)

I gave it like 5 goes with 1-yen coins and failed to toss any of them in that guy's offering box... Probably responsible for the bad luck of not getting to cat island later. =P

You can pay to go up the lighthouse if you want. Now that I mention it, the island path has a few escalators on the way up and you can pay a small fee to use them if you want.

You know you played The Witness for too long when...

The triforce is everywhere...

"Turtle" rock..


Lots of haiku stones...

The closed off path down to the cave entrance...

Mt. Fuji in the distance...

After the long trek back down the path (and a stop for gelato), I was at the front of the island again in a little park where there were supposed to be cats. I wonder if the typhoon that wiped out the path to get to the cave also forced the cats to go up the island mountain into its woods? Better to think about anyway than the typhoon wiping out the cats.

Here's the bridge that connects the island with the mainland, it's not a bad walk.

I went to the side to try and get towards the back of the island (actually I wanted to see if it was possible to circumnavigate the island). I don't know if the typhoon did this or if this was done to lesson the impact of typhoons, but in any case it's pretty neat:

This can be blamed on a storm.

This is the way towards the cave. As I said, maybe passable if you're prepared (and prepared to get wet) but around here I gave up and turned back. Besides, high tide could come in too as it was getting near the end of the day...

The midpoint from the ground is neat though.

Faint Mt. Fuji again

Rock veins..

More rocks.. I like rocky beaches.

Anyway I got back to the front of the island, took a break and had a delicious Malasada from a food truck. Now I know what they are. (They were in a game but not described... they're like a cream filled sugar coated donut-texture puff.)

There's an unofficial character for the island, I got a little keychain.

Enoshima Sanpo-Chan, a 'Sanpo' is a kind of meditative walkabout, so it fits.

I got back to the hotel with sore feet. The weather report indicated lots of rain in western Japan. I was thinking of visiting Hiroshima the next day, but the desire lessened when I heard about the rain and more importantly that the atomic museum is currently under renovations. I want to see it in its glory. Something for next time.

The trip was past the halfway point now, going by fast!


I overslept this morning so I decided not to take a bullet train anywhere. Went out and did some shopping though (I kept passing by the Pokemon Store at the tokyo station, so I went there and actually bought some stuff). Dropped it back off at the hotel, then went back to Harajuku since it was Sunday maybe I'd see some more interesting characters. And there was that big Meiji shrine I wanted to checkout too.

I had some good udon for lunch.

In case it's not obvious...

Amazed these sorts of ramps can hold up fat Americans. :)

Don't forget there's a concrete jungle right outside.. (Is that a mormon temple? I know there's one somewhere in Tokyo...)

The bridge back to the modern world

Remember here?

Ah, some costumes!

There was also a woman dressed up head to toe as I-don't-know-what, and a man in a santa outfit with a sign in at least three languages one of which in Eng said something like "I need a wife for Christmas, please marry me!"


I was resolved to go to cat island today, so I got up early. It's possible to do a day trip from Tokyo to Tashirojima but you have to leave early. A recent comment on this blog explains it pretty well. There's a 9am ferry, which you can't make, but there's a noon ferry that you can.

My advice in retrospect: look at the ferry's website before going! Run it through Google Translate. Check out their Twitter. Maybe even give them a call. Anyway this will give you a heads up if the ferry is going to be canceled or not.

The morning started a bit rough, I forgot my main camera so only had my phone, but I made it to Ishinomaki (where the ferry takes off from) in the morning with time to spare. Took a short taxi ride down to the port, I think the driver was trying to tell me they were closed but I didn't really understand and went anyway. When we got there a nice lady came out who spoke perfect English and told me the ferry wasn't running today. I asked about the possibility of tomorrow or the next few days, she wasn't sure. Anyway, back to the station. Instead of heading back I wandered around the small town a bit. It was fairly windy so I can understand why the ferry wasn't running.

I went towards a shrine I saw on the map. I didn't see all these stairs, but I climbed them.

After the shrine I went to check out a large cemetery.

This path led to even more graves... but it was essentially an alternate way down that huge set of stairs.

Back on the streets there were some interesting character statues.

Anyway back to Tokyo I went.

Since it was Christmas, I had already planned to have a Japanese-traditional Christmas dinner: KFC!

This baked chicken was really good...

I was very stuffed. Probably the most calories in a meal I had on my whole trip. I had a food coma but then also had some KFC-driven insomnia and was up most of the night.


Fortunately I was already up early so catching the train to go see Nitama. It's a rather long journey of about 4 and a half hours from Tokyo, through Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and finally Wakayama before you take the local line that eventually ends at Kishi Station.

Nitama is of course the cat station master of Kishi Station. :) See their homepage.

There is also Yontama, the master-in-training currently stationed at the midway point of Idakiso. So she's the first I saw. Caught her sleeping on the job!

She woke up though.

Remembering Tama 1

When I was making my way back I stopped to see Yontama again, she seemed to remember me.

Countryside Japan is interesting too.

Anyway I got to Nitama's station.. she was also sleeping on the job. :)

The whole station is also kind of a shrine to Tama as well.

And there's a little cafe with interesting menu items. Hot Cat?! It was pretty good.

More honorary decor.

Anyway made my way back to Tokyo. Had a bento box for dinner that was pretty good, like 20 kinds of food.


I ran out of gas. :) I was hoping to make the trip to Nagano to see the Snow Monkeys either today or the 28th (last days of JR pass), or try for cat island again, but I didn't have the energy. Oh well, more things for next time. So today I woke up late. Didn't immediately head out, since again was pretty tired but also a bit disappointed at myself for being tired, anyway I read some more of a book I brought along (Mort) that had previously kept me company during the KFC insomnia. I left the hotel around 11 and wandered around, ended up in the Tokyo Dome area again but this time looking at more of the shops. Decided to get some ramen at the food court for lunch.

They also had a water-jet-musical thing going on. And some water rides were open and running with people getting wet.. It wasn't exactly balmy weather!

Anyway I had been thinking I'd need to get a second suitcase to bring back all the crap I had acquired, due to the 50 pound weight restrictions even though my main suitcase could probably have fit it all... I learned that "Don Quijote" is the place to go for such things, to me it's like the Walmart of Japan. So I found a nice suitcase that's big enough I could use as a main even for trips that don't justify my huge one, and I got it duty-free to top things off. So I got the suitcase and headed back to the hotel to drop it off. But I think the ramen wasn't agreeing with me as I felt somewhat sick to my stomach, so I stayed inside and slept some more. Finished reading the book.

I think I snapped this at DQ's...

But the moment I saw them I had a funny emotional reaction of wanting to destroy. Probably due to killing a lot of these guys...

Around 10pm I felt a small earthquake. My bed was gently shaking a bit, and I realized it wasn't me doing it as part of a knee shake or something. It stopped after maybe 10-30 seconds. Then I looked up an earthquake tracker site and verified a 4.7 magnitude quake had been reported on the other side of Tokyo Bay. Huzzah! I was hoping to experience an earthquake during my trip.


Still somewhat out of gas. After another late start I went walking. Made it to a place called Fire House for a late lunch, they do a delicious American style burger better than most American restaurants. Wandered by Tokyo University, it looked like quite the impressive place. Then went over to Akahabara again for more wandering and food sampling. Found an interesting shop with a few floors, called Hot Potato I think, each floor was dedicated to a certain era of retro video games. Didn't take any pictures today, and didn't take any more detailed notes.


Got some energy back today. Unfortunately JR pass was no more, but that was ok. I decided to go to Ueno Zoo and see the panda(s?).

There was a shrine before the zoo, so I checked that out first.

Made it to the Zoo entrance and...

Closed. :( I suspect because the 29th is too close to the New Year? Lots of things shut down in Japan for New Year's.

But all was not lost. There was a museum nearby. And they were open. And they were showing a Van Gogh + Japan exhibit!

I didn't know Van Gogh was so influenced by Japanese art, but now I do.

The whole area loves its panda. Too bad the zoo was closed. But yet another thing for next time?

I tried to go to the Nihon Ki-in, the main Go Center. It was closed too! Add another to the list... And note to self about visiting so close to New Year's. Still, I had a nice curry lunch in the area.

Made my way back to the hotel to drop things off and recover a bit. Then after a while went out again for dinner at the Sichuanese place. Made sure to get a 3/5 this time so I wouldn't have a coughing fit. I'm still not sure what I ate since I based it on the picture (some noodle + meat dish, no tofu this time) but it was super delicious.

After that I headed to Akahabara again for the last time so I could visit another cat cafe. Bigger than the other one and more cats, though slightly less cozy feel, still I loved it.


The day of departure arrived. Had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and headed towards the airport. Dropped off my Wifi device in a mailbox (though I suspect the mailbox wouldn't be checked until the next week due to New Year's, but I didn't get charged extra or anything so no matter). Google lied to me for the first time on the trip, telling me to stay on the train when I should have transferred as the voice directions indicated, so I lost about 20-30 minutes, but that was fine since I made sure to arrive well ahead of time.

Turned out I arrived too early anyway, United wasn't set up to check people in for about an hour or two. So had some snacks at the airport and waited around, started reading another book I brought along. Eventually checked in, customs for leaving the country was super quick (didn't need to fill out any forms, didn't even bother to look at the duty free receipt stapled to a page on my passport) and I was past security. I emptied out my remaining Suico train card balance and some of my paper currency with some snacks and such to take home with me. Eventually boarded and said goodbye to Japan!

Trip back wasn't too bad. About 2 hours shorter. Read a lot. I had a window seat because I wanted it, though in retrospect an aisle again would have been better so that I could stand up. Still didn't need to use the airplane toilet. =P

Arriving at San Francisco airport was interesting. Customs didn't take too long, my form was probably overly detailed, though it took longer than either case in Japan, and one of the first employees was some crabby lady. And the airport itself, which I've been in several times before, filled me with disgust which hadn't happened before. The difference in cleanliness between SFO and Japan's Haneda airport is that drastic. I also thought I could detect the scent of skunk weed at one point (which oddly enough I couldn't when I was in the Seattle airport later).

Anyway it was a wonderful trip. I want to go back. If not only to do the things I left off, but to do even more things too. Maybe I can drag a friend along next time now that I've proved you can get by without any sophistication in the language. And knowing the traveling systems better, I could attempt staying at multiple locations instead of having to have a 'base camp'.

Posted on 2018-01-08 by Jach

Tags: japan, personal, travel


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