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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Japan trip - day one - Tokyo

Arrived at Changi Airport at 5:30am. Thought United still operated out of Terminal 1, but it's now at Terminal 3. With time to kill, wandered around Terminal 3's shops that were still closed. In the end, just went into the departure area and browsed the shops there.

Slept on the 7:20am flight, but couldn't get a good position, so had a stiff neck and no deep sleep. Caught snippets of "Up in the Air", but read the Chinese subtitles instead of listening to the audio. Also flipped between that and the Sandra Bullock movie.

Arrived at Narita Airport at 2:45pm. Breezed through customs and immigration. Headed to JR station to exchange my Rail Pass coupon for the actual pass. Got a ticket for the 4:45pm Narita Express (N'EX) train that goes directly to Ikebukuro station.
Train signboard for Narita ExpressTrain platform at Narita AirportSign showing the Narita Express' journeyInside the Narita Express

To kill time, wandered around the airport's shopping mall at fourth floor and watched the planes from the observation deck at the fifth floor. Also tried to surf the Net, but need to pay for 24-hour access, so I skipped that.

Went down to the JR station at 4:30pm. Confused initially because the train was there but no one was boarding. Turned out to be being cleaned. Train ultimately left on time. Audio messages in Japanese and English fortunately.

Slept for about half an hour on the train. Arrived at Ikebukuro at 6:15pm. Followed the directions to Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro, quite easy to find. But when checking in, realized that I had mixed up the dates! I was supposed to check into Oak Hotel today!

Went back to Ikebukuro station, queued up in ticket office to get a ticket. Counter girl told me to go to the south entrance. So I went to the ticket office there, and the counter guy told me to just show my Rail Pass at the gate. Turns out I just need to show the validity dates printed large on the pass for free entry and exit at the gates.

Half hour ride to Ueno station. People watched on train. Almost 80% of all men and women dressed in black. I felt colourful in my red jacket. Also, young and old were glued to their phones. Some had privacy screen filter, so can't see what they're doing. Others appeared to be either playing a game, watching a show, or -- more commonly -- reading something. Book? Web site? Online service?

From Ueno station, followed directions to Oak Hotel. "Japanese style single room" was really very small. Also given a cable modem and Ethernet cable for Internet access, but I forgot to bring my Ethernet adapter for the MacBook Air, so cannot use.
Hotel room at Oak Hotel, TokyoBathroom in hotel room at Oak Hotel, TokyoTaps for shower and sink at Oak Hotel, Tokyo

Headed out at about 8:30pm. Walking past convenience stores, it's very common to see men reading magazines at the magazine racks. Later found out that they were reading either the men's non-nude magazines or manga. Nude magazines are tied up, so cannot read at the racks.

Went to Shinjuku station. Walked around looking for a good place to eat. Finally picked a small eating place. Selected a curry rice dish, bought food ticket from machine outside, then found a place to sit at the counter while waiter took my order. Dish had a normal helping of rice and generous curry, but only three chunks of meat (beef, chicken). Scooped some complimentary preserved vegetables to round up the dish. Noticed that other diners were content to eat rice with curry alone.
Curry rice with pork and chicken

After dinner, went out to find my way to Electric Street. But lost by the lack of directions and map that didn't show any road names. Finally found my way by navigating from Koei mall. But almost all shops were already closed, realized that it's past 10pm. Found a lot of pachinko shops, didn't go in but they sounded noisier than normal game arcades.
Shinjuku at night

On the way back to hotel, stopped by a convenience store to buy a sandwich and carton of chocolate milk for tomorrow's breakfast. Then returned to hotel, bathed in the tiny bathroom, and got ready for bed.



Chu Yeow said...

I stayed in Oak Hotel in my last Tokyo visit - I don't think I'll go back again. The room was rather dated and the bathroom was tiny (though the smallest I've been to is in New Izu Hotel, also in Ueno).

Anyway, I guess you went on this trip alone?

Reading your Japan trip posts makes me long to go there again. Some time this year!

Yuhui said...

Yup, I went on this trip alone, which was fun in its own way.

And yes, Oak Hotel had the smallest bathrooms of the three hotels I stayed in!

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