I took my first trip to Japan in March of 2012 and did my best to blog about everything I saw there. From this geek’s point of view, it was an amazing adventure filled some non-stop stories (most of which I now tell during conventions at the “Wasabi Anime Goes to Japan” panel.) The problem, though, was that I never got to finish all of my posts and stories because life – as it tends to do – got in the way. In retrospect, it looks like I actually left off right before setting foot into the Tokyo DisneySEA theme park.
Let’s face it: 2012 was a REALLY busy year.
So here we are in April of 2013 and I’m picking up the pen (er, keyboard) and trying to get back to telling a number of tales that my five readers (six if you include my dog) have missed out on. Instead of trying to complete last year’s Japan visit’s posts, I’m opting to start fresh with the trip I took just a few weeks ago with my wife. I cover a lot of similar ground and (this time) I was less rushed to get places.
My new qualifier, though, is FIVE PHOTOS. Once a blog post has five photos in it, I’m stopping and starting another one. This should help the pacing a little more even and also allow me to tell about the trip using the photos I posted on Flickr so I can remember things (almost) in order.
So let’s start with Monday, March 25th. After meeting some friends for dinner in Studio City the night before, Shannon and I headed to Los Angeles International Airport to board our flight (via Malaysia Airlines) to Narita Airport in Japan. Look how happy we look:
Shannon is smiling because she really doesn’t grasp (yet) the hell of sitting in the same seat for TWELVE HOURS. That’s right, folks – a trip to Japan from Los Angeles (non-stop) takes about twelve hours.
Overall, though, the flight was there was actually pretty nice. Malaysia Airlines likes to feed you… A LOT. Every couple of hours we were eating snacks, meals, more snacks, etc. The regular intake of food helped break up the time.
As we passed into night on the flight, we were able to continue killing time by watching TVs (which are on all of the flight’s seats.)
I also had my MacBook Air and Samsung Galaxy TAB which (combined) has a pretty decent amount of battery power. (One of the negative things about the Malaysia Airlines flight compared to the All Nippon Airlines flight I took the year before was the obvious lack of charging stations at the seats.)
SIDE NOTE: Right before the flight, I had bought Final Fantasy III for the tablet. TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY and I’m still playing it.
So after twelve long hours, we got off the plane and found our way around NRT. My first stop was to the SoftBank desk to pick up a SIM card for my unlocked/international iPhone. I paid for a local number and unlimited Internet on the phone and it was the single best investment I made on the trip. Seriously, if you ever go outside the United States and that country has local cell phone with Internet rental service available, SPEND THE MONEY. Worth every yen I spent. (You’ll see how as these posts progress.)
With luggage in hand and iPhone active, we caught the train to our hotel. We stayed at the APA Hotel Tokyo-Shiomi-Ekimae which was about an hour away and walking distance from the station when we arrived. Upon getting there, our first order of business was FOOD. In keeping with (what has become) my Japanese tradition, we hit a local McDonalds to make the culinary transition a little easier.
This time, though, I decided to live on the proverbial edge and got a fried shrimp patty sandwich. Yup. Fried shrimp. Check it out:
I tasted happiness.
We grabbed some Japanese snacks from
the local Family Mart (my wife corrected me on this; we actually had a Lawson attached to the hotel; not a Family Mart.) the local Lawson to go along with the food and headed to the room relax. I liked the hotel, but it was VERY Japanese. (I’ve already written ad nauseum regarding the magical Japanese toilets here: www.tomcroom.com/archives/8728) By “VERY Japanese” I mean “the size of my walk in closet at home.” At various points during the trip, I would take time to look up information on my laptap that I had set up on the room’s desk and I would often realize that I was sitting on my bed and not the desk chair reaching the keyboard comfortably. It was small – but cozy.
Before trying to go to sleep, Shannon and I flipped on the television for Japanese entertainment goodness. I was happy to find that there was an On Demand service IN ENGLISH! This led me to (of course!) check to see what sort of porn a Japanese hotel had to offer (strictly for research purposes, of course) and we found this screen:
Yup, we were in Japan. SCHOOL GIRLS and IDOL porn.
We opted to just go to sleep at that point since the next day was going slated to be incredibly busy. More to come…