Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Easiest Flight Ever

You know that if you pat yourself on the back you can easily dislocate your shoulder so before I give myself too much credit for a trip well planned, so far, I should say there were a couple of unfortunate occurrences.

The airplane related aspects were uneventful except that we arrived in Narita 40 minutes early making the flight from San Francisco in under 9 hours. It has always taken 11 hours plus. Bags were waiting when I got through immigration and the escalator to the train station was staring me in the face when I came out of customs. Perfect so far.

I bought a ticket and it turns out you have to buy a reserved seat so the cost was a little over $30. This meant no savings over taking the bus except that it is faster and more comfortable.The train left on-time, and if you’ve been reading Zonajin you knew that was going to happen, and it arrived on time. Here’s the first hic-up.

I didn’t remember that my friend said to come off the train and wait on the platform, I forgot the ‘wait-on-the-platform’ part, so I looked for him for a minute then went up the stairs to see if he was waiting at the exit. There were 2 exits and I knew they were on the wrong side of Shinjuku station. I walked back and forth between exits thinking he would be outside one of them but no luck.

Time for a little weather update; Hot (91) and Humid (91). The only precipitation was the stuff rolling out of my head and chest and shoulders etc. Usually in Japan you carry a small handkerchief or washcloth. You use it to mop your brow and since there are no paper towels in the public washrooms, you use it to dry your hands when you go to a public toilet. They are very Eco-friendly. I didn’t have a cloth as yet so I just perspired.

I phoned my friend after not seeing him anywhere and he was of course down on the train platform. Now I remembered that he’d asked me to wait down there. He has a pass that gets him inside the gate but I was now outside and would have to buy a train ticket to get back in. He figured out where I was and came to me. It was a strange situation; I was on the outside as if meeting a traveler and he was on the inside of the gates as if he had just arrived.

From there the only annoyance was the constant stream of sweat. Humidity really changes the comfort level. In Arizona most of what you sweat evaporates before it can soak you clothing or run down you forehead but high humidity has me drowning in no time. The free advertising tissues that are handed out all over Shinjuku stations couldn’t keep up.

All the apartment rental paper work was easily completed and we were off to the apartment where we arrived to find no paper products, no towels and only one sheet for the futon. Hic-up number 2.

Today I will be going to the 100Yen store to pick up some of these items. Other than that the apartment is bigger than I expected, the air-conditioner works great and I slept very well the first night. But before bed, my friend and I walked back to the train station so I could become aware of the walk and find my way home. We had a light shushi meal and then she went on her way and I made my way back to the apartment. No problem.

There is a 7Eleven just across the street so I bought what I needed for the morning and went back and fell asleep rather quickly.

In the morning I went back to the 7Eleven to buy the rest of the stuff I would need in the morning and bought some tea and a most delicious banana. It’s amazing how something you eat all the time sometimes makes a better effort to impress you and you end up with an unexpected great and tasty banana.

Mitaka City is celebrating its 60th anniversary. That seems young for a town in Japan. I planned to walk around a bit over the next few days so I’ll have more on Mitaka when I write again.

So, a minor pat on the back; my shoulders are still where they belong. If missing my friend on the platform and the apartment not have towels on arrival are the worst that happens then I’m in for some smooth sailing.

Okonomiyaki tonight for dinner.

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