Heathrow, Narita, Tokyo
2 days away
9,620 km / 5,978 miles since last post
9,620 km / 5,978 miles total
Well, it was a long flight, nearly 12 hours in total. It was pretty smooth going the whole way, no turbulence or calls for "Is there is a Doctor on board?" or "Can anyone pilot an airplane?". I tried to get some sleep but it's quite difficult forcing your body to rest. The net result was both of us being thrust into a new Tokyo day at 9am with no sleep. How I hate jet lag!
On arrival in Tokyo Narita airport we proceeded to collect our JR Rail Passes. These pieces of card cost over £350 for 14 days of travel on all JR operated train lines. We had heard that public transport is efficient, cheap and convenient - a far cry from UK standards. I'm starting to wonder if I'll miss the not-knowing-where-the-train-is feeling or the smell of festering urine that accompanies UK train travel. Oh well, the sacrifices one must make when travelling abroad.
We caught the Narita Express train into Shinjuku station. It departed at exactly 10:15am. It was clean and provided LCD readouts of an unanticipated 2 minute delay 5 stations ahead due to a cabin inspection in both English and Japanese. Efficiency is clearly of utmost importance here. The train took us through rice fields and miles of anonymous Greater Tokyo urban sprawl. 60 km of grey/green in around 60, sorry 62, minutes.
I'm afraid we've brought the weather with us - it's raining quite heavily. The forecast is for mixed weather for the next couple of days, followed by 5 days of clear sunshine. Thankfully today is a complete write-off from the jet lag and tiredness so it doesn't really matter.
After arriving at Shinjuku station we decided to get a taxi to our hotel. It would only have been about a 15 minute walk, but tiredness and bad weather made the decision not to walk very easy - ¥710 well spent.
The hotel we are staying at is a budget (read £115 per night) affair. It's clean and provides free high-speed internet - the two basic essentials. It has a bathtub large enough to wash a dwarf and high-definition TV spewing out incomprehensible material. A quick flick through - home education programme teaching children about organic chemistry, a game show where contestants showed their "unique talents" and a comedy show (I'm guessing here).
We had a fantastic Japanese meal in the restaurant this evening. I had a miso soup, braised beef on rice, pickles, salad, a beer and an ice cream from the vending machine in the lobby. Sarah had a similar dish but with marinated pork belly. The beef came with a soy and concentrated beef flavour dip which was particularly delicious. We are both looking forward to tasting Japan.
One thing we have noticed so far is that the Japanese like to have the heating on really high. The weather has been fairly mild today but everywhere has the thermostat set to "Mum in Winter" setting. They clearly don't like the cold.
That's it for today. We are here safe and sound, very much looking forward to exploring Shinjuku tomorrow.