Day 1 in Tokyo, Japan: Jetlag, Subway, and Ueno

5:15 AM Shannon McLeod 0 Comments

Hello, friends! I'm technically lying when calling this Day 1. It is more like Day 1/2, but we're just going to go with it.

Getting off the plane was a surreal experience. It hadn't really hit me that I was in Japan until I saw the "Welcome to Japan" sign. I mean, I had been working towards this goal of mine to travel around the world and teach for years now, and to see it come to life absolutely blew my mind. Not everyone gets to say they have been to Tokyo. I was lucky, but I had also worked my ass off to get here. And I was going to make damn sure I enjoyed it.

Going through immigration, baggage claim, and customs was easy. For those who don't know, you have to fill out an immigration form and customs form to enter Japan. The immigration form is essentially basic information about yourself, why you're in Japan, etc. On the custom form, you pretty much check no to anything, unless for some reason you brought large quantities of booze or cigarettes over with you. After going through all of the steps and knowing that we were legally allowed to be in this country for 90 days, we exchanged some money, bought express passes to and from the airport, and 48 hour subway passes. Japan uses the Yen as its form of currency. I really did not have any trouble using it. It just takes a few tries with the coins to make sure you grabbed a 100 and not a 1.

Vanida and I then made our way through the maze that is the halls of the subway (and put in the wrong subway card a few times) until we reached the train cars. We got in what we thought was the correct car and took off towards Ueno, the place our hotel was near. The journey was supposed to last forty three minutes but took an hour and a half. We learned on our way back to the airport that we took the local line and not the express. But we just laughed it off because we had a good experience on the subway.

When you first leave Narita airport, you are greeted by lots of trees. I felt like I was still at home while the trees zoomed by. It wasn't until we started to see buildings and then buildings on top of one another and right next to one another that it felt like a different city. Something to know about the Kei Sei Line is that 90% of the stops are not on the map. Only the major stops for this line are included. So we really had to go on faith and the confirmation from two lovely Japanese girls that the car would eventually end up in Ueno.

When we got off of the subway, we had to transfer to the Ginza line in order to get to the stop our hotel was supposed to be semi-close to, or at least that is what my research had told me. I got us off at the correct stop and we made our way out onto the streets. I wish I could say I had this amazing experience where I looked around the city with wonder in my eyes as the camera zoomed out, but that is not what happened. Instead, I almost tripped and a cyclist almost ran me over. But hey, how else would I enter a city for the first time? This is me we are talking about here.

The hunt for our hotel could really be a post in itself. It took us a couple of tries to find it. We walked to the stoplight closest to us and tried to figure out where we were. This clearly did not work because a. We really had no idea where we were b. The cars were on the opposite side of the road and I really wanted to get in one c. Our maps did not help in the slightest. So what did we do? We asked people how to get to our hotel. An older man pointed us in the right direction and said in about two meters our hotel would be on the right. We thanked him and went in the direction he told us to go, neither of us really having any idea how long a meter actually takes to walk.

Turns out, we walked right past our hotel, determining it wasn't the one since it was on the other side of the street. We stopped and asked a local shop owner where our hotel was a few minutes later when I determined that there was no way two meters took this long to walk. I was aware that my research said it took twelve minutes to walk from the subway stop to the hotel, but this seemed to be taking much more time than that. The shop owner told us our hotel was the one we determined was not ours and sent us on our way. At this point, it is probably a good time to note that we were drenched in sweat. Carrying luggage through a city and heat while experiencing that initial new city adrenaline rush does that to you.

We checked in to the hotel and immediately hit the shower. Showers are different in Japan, or at least this one was. We had to turn on the bathroom sink and turn a knob to get the water to come out of the shower head. It was touch and go for a while as I tried to find the balance between the hot and cold water, but I found my way eventually. Our hotel provided razors and combs at the front desk, the typical shampoo/conditioner/soap combo in the bathroom, moisturizers, and towels. The room was smaller than I was expecting, but I never felt like there wasn't enough room for two people to easily move around.

After showering, we hit up Ueno, because we were told by one of Vanida's friends that Ueno was the place to be when hungry. We examined many streets full of restaurants, bars, and one casino, but everything was crowded, and we were tired and just wanted to shove food in our mouths. We wound up just stopping at a local mini mart and stocking up on rolls and noodles (you need those carbs to keep the body running!) and headed back to the hotel room. I stuffed my face before getting ready for bed.

Jetlag hit me hard that night. We were in bed by nine thirty because we were exhausted and wanted to make sure we were well-rested for our full day in Tokyo. I wound up waking up around eleven forty at night, but my body thought it was morning, because I was still used to EST. I was still exhausted but soon realized it was dark out, so there was no way it was eleven forty in the morning. It was a strange experience having my body so out of sync with time. I wound up sleeping through the majority of the night, but I did wake up a few times, because my body was telling me it was the afternoon and I needed to get up.

I hope this tale of my first day in Tokyo was a good read! I will see you guys later with Day 2 in Tokyo!


Check out my previous post here.
Check out my other Japan posts here, here, and here as they are posted.

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