Japan and Tokyo Guide - Flight to Narita

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Last Updated : 02 July 2012


Intro Japan and Tokyo Tourist Guide
What to pack for your trip and how much to bring

Day 1 - Flight to Narita
Day 2 - Tourist in Tokyo
                - Coffee and breakfast
                - Getting a train ticket
                - Ginza and Akihabara
Day 3 - Tokyo Motor Show
                - The Tokyo Motor Show Pt.1
                - The Tokyo Motor Show Pt.2
Day 4 - Yokohama and Pokemon
Day 5 - Site seeing
                - Kawagoe
                - Odaiba
Day 6 - Hamamatsu
Day 7 - Cars and Motorcycles in Tokyo
                - Tokyo - Transport - Cars
                - Tokyo - Transport - Motorcycles
Day 8 - A day trip to Mt Fuji
Day 9 - A day shopping in Tokyo
Day 10 - Last day in Tokyo

I hope youíve read the long intro because it will help you understand how I can get around quickly (besides familiarity with Tokyo) and have an entertaining read! I donít usually keep track of the motor shows just the new model releases so when I was told by a Japanese visitor to the website that it was on so I hurriedly made preparations to visit.

I donít usually do write ups about my holidays but this is an exception because this one was to the Tokyo Motor Show. Holidays for me a break from work and the internet and most of all a chance to simply look at the lives of other people in other places. I also consider the time away private. This is not my first trip to Japan.

The Melbourne morning (where I was catching the flight from) was overcast but lovely, nice and brisk (under 15C) but was clearing. I had fully packed the night before because if I didnít I wouldnít be in a fit state to contemplate packing! I had already set out what I was going to wear for the trip even starched the shirt! Had my coffee and checked the internet for any breaking news. There wasnít interesting stuff apart from the annoying vote for political ads. I donít believe in internet based political ads especially from a government that wants to censor the internet. How times have changed. Turned off all the computers and powered down everything and got ready to leave.

I got to the airport in quick time since it was weekend and that I wanted to be early to get a good seat and duty free shopping of course. I found a forgotten four leaf clover I had purchased in the arm rest as I locked up the car! Pity I left it there which as sign of things to come. I also tried to remember where I parked since it highly embarrassing when you get back and canít find it again.

My holiday didnít start off very well. The Qantas flight was delayed by 2 hours! I didnít know what the Japanese tourists thought but I and the other Australians were certainly pissed off. They gave the excuse of cleaning Ė it was probably technical pre-flight issues??? or even passengers from a connecting flight whatever - judging from the activity around the plane. Cleaning a plane does not take 2 hours Iíve seen them do 747ís in 45 minutes and thatís a much larger plane than the Airbus A330 I had. Maybe it really was just really dirtyÖ

With the delay I got to wonder around the very limited duty free shops at least 3 times and had 2 coffees at exorbitant prices. They wanted $7 for a meat pie! (Usually about $2 at normal shops) The rental costs at the airport must be huge but thatís just silly.  Duty free shopping after clearing custom is really limited, there are so many more in the entrance area.

When we finally boarded at least the in flight staff where friendly and attentive. On prior international flights they werenít very good. The A330 has personalised in flight entertainment system so I wasnít stuck watching movies and other shows I didnít particular want. I donít usually wear a watch on my travels relying on the mobile phone to tell the time but the in-flight entertainment system not only told the time but has an on-line map and time etc... Lovely feature wish all planes had this sort of thing.

As for leg room and seat comfort - forget it. The Airbus has an annoying box under each seat except for the middle aisle ones that restrict leg room. I presume itís the in flight entertainment system which is a compromise.

Flights to Japan (direct from Melbourne) are not full so it was nice to have some space. The flight there was largely uneventful except for a bit of turbulence which had me feeling a tad uneasy. Over 10 hours sitting in a plane rivals watching grass grow. So it was nice to arrive in one piece.

Narita airport must have the longest taxi way of any airport. It must have been at least 20 minutes of taxing to the docking bay. I donít understand why and clearly the pilot hinted at his dismay at why the designers chose such long and winding taxi ways. Once parked itís long walk to the customs area which includes a short mono rail ride. Japan is about to start finger printing (20 November 2007) and taking pictures of all visitors except of politicians and residents. This is going be a mistake just like the American system. How many people mistakenly identified as terrorists and complete embarrassments will occur before it will be stopped? Donít get me wrong I believe in improved national security I just donít trust governments to use the data properly. (I understand that after the 1st week they interrogated 20 old people - yes that's right because the machine couldn't read their finger prints.)  I really hope they get system right.

Customs and baggage claims was a simple process although could be quicker considering it was only a small plane and yay! finally arrived. I got a bus ticket and left for the hotel in less than 1 hour from arrival. Make sure you pick up train/subway and other tourist maps where youíre there. Arriving two hours late it was the last bus to the hotel. The bus ride is a great experience as you get to see the lights, sounds, traffic from the airport, the smells and aura was refreshing compared to the last 12 hours.

As we travelled along the motorway it was interesting to see how fast some of the cars went. Most went at the speed limit which was mostly at 100kph I think but some where clearly going much faster. At the lights I again noticed how many cars ad multiple screens in their car. Most newer ones had 2 screens, one for GPS and one for TV presumably. I assume it was TV as you donít get Ads if youíre watch a DVD. The older cars had one screen and the really old cars had none! The street markings where really odd likewise the directions and general street construction. Unless you can read Japanese one can only guess what they said. There where some English ones on the main roads but the side street rarely have names, even so they where just English pronunciations of the Japanese name.

I checked my new acquired GPS system LD-3W and it only confirmed the disorganized manner of the streets and directions.

The place I was staying at was in Ikebukuro (池袋). Itís not the trendiest, cheapest or expensive location but one I stay at for convenience. The station near the hotels is one busiest with lots of connecting lines. There are a few major hotels in the area so pick the nearest one to the station if unsure - on this occasion it was the one at the Metropolitan exit. If you've never been to Tokyo before I recommend a hotel closer to city centre.

Ikebukuro has basically 2 sides divided by the railway station. You have the more Ďseedyí side where there are more residential buildings and a big square where the younger people gather that find Shibuya (渋谷区) to busy and Ginza (銀座) too up market. Not that this is absolute fact but what I merely observed.

Checking in at the hotel was quick, largely because we where so late to arrive! The counter staff do not speak English fluently or very, very little but are as helpful as possible in the circumstance. I have noticed that English speaking tourists arenít that common in Japan, maybe it was the places I go but I noticed a lot of French and Germans. Of the other Asian countries it is clear that they are from either Hong Kong or Singapore with appropriate accents.

I saw one particular young American woman get quite rude because they couldnít communicate, the reality is that she wasnít using the right words. The counter staff can understand English if you use simple words and some may surprise you by how well they can speak if youíre attentive . Be nice you are in their country. Getting impatient only reveals what a stupid person you are. Writing down what you want would also help.

After a long day that was it arrived safely and even energetic enough to do some wondering about! The first stop was to nearby vending machines. These machines are everywhere and usually sell drinks or tobacco based products. The choice of drinks typically include water, green tea, fruit drink and coffee. Drinks can be either hot or cold! Surprisingly few machines sell food. Prices vary from •100-160 Yen dependent on where the machine is located. I purchased the usually Blendy brand of coffee and a grape juice and headed off to the 24 hour convenience store. 7/11, AMPM and Lawson are the main chains. I just got some seaweed flavoured chips for •127 or something like that.

Since it was November, Christmas decorations where being put up everywhere so Christmas lights greeted me as I wondered around the area after checking in. The air was cool with a noticeable amount of humidity which surprised me because I expected 15C or so degrees to be chilly. Tokyo doesnít have the garbage scent common to other Asian cities. It was a Saturday night and everyone was still out and about although near midnight. I didnít venture too far from the main area since I knew there was nothing much to see Ė at least on this side of the railway.

Tokyo is a very large and full packed city. The buildings just seem to hide each other. For example you think you found the main street which you think is packed full of shops or other venues and you head off into another alley and thereís even more people and stuff to see especially at night.

Check out the next instalment of my holiday next week.


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