Our flight may have been delayed four hours for weather, but FINALLY we’ve arrived! Border control, baggage carousel, visa
check, customs visit… After the whole airport procedure, I made it into the country. There are train lines that connect you from
Narita to Tokyo, so I hopped on, sat at the window and stared at all the wonders zipping by outside. Everything was so green… I mean, I’ve lived in Ireland and I know green, but this was impressive. The houses all along the way with those traditional roofs,
lost in the middle of rice plantations, trees and mountains.
Getting off the Shinkansen (that’s what they call the bullet train) in Tokyo, the first thing I saw was this vending machine with dozens of colourful cans and bottles, all sorts of sodas and a whole lot of information I could not read. Their packaging was so
appealing and unusual for me as a westerner that I immediately pulled out some coins and picked my favourite can.
I gave Stefaan, my travel partner, the honour of having the first sip, and apparently the outcome was not what he was expecting – a beautiful can, sure, but a beautiful taste? NO.
I’ll let you try it on your own when you visit Japan, but for my part I can say that after trying a few other cans we decided to stick to Coke.
As we recovered from this … new experience, we prepared to head the hotel, check-in and leave our bags. We were at Tokyo station and the hotel was very close to Shinjuku station, easy job, we thought – until we checked the metro map:
My thumb twitched as it hovered over the Uber icon on my phone, but I took a deep breath, resigned myself to the experience and looked for a staff member to ask for help. They are all so nice here, really. I felt like hugging that metro worker. He took his time to carefully explain the way and make sure we understood. After about 20 minutes we were in Shinjuku at our Capsule hotel.
We though the capsules would be a claustrophobic weird experience, but we still wanted to try. Wow, we were so wrong! They were so comfy, cosy and nice. The pillows, the mattress, even the limited space was enough for a good night’s sleep. It was much better than many “normal” hotels I’ve been to. Apart from that, the facilities were nice, we had a bath tub available, great showers, they even provided us with pyjamas. Everything was clean, quiet and organised, but in Japan, that seems to be the norm.
Having settled, it was already evening, almost sleep time for someone that didn’t want to be jet lagged the next day, but I was still so excited that I wanted to have a walk around, and some food. I was glad to find out this city never sleeps and many restaurants are 24/7. Leaving the hotel, I stood in a busy corridor for a long time, watching people move around living their lives. I was so happy. And there were so many people! Where are they heading? what are they doing? What’s it like to be born and raised in Tokyo? Growing up nowhere near this place in a culture that was completely different – we must see the world entirely differently. I felt like stopping people and asking them questions, I just wanted to get in to their heads a bit. To understand who they are as a people. Of course I didn’t, I’m not that guy… Well, at least not my very first night in town.
Soon my stomach reminded me that I had left the hotel with a purpose. The concierge suggested a nearby restaurant, so I headed there and enjoyed an incredible amount of food! I had some ramen, gyoza, rice… and all of this before dessert! We decided to have a drink over dinner as well. Whiskey highballs and beer are very in fashion here in Japan, so I went with the local flair, got my Highball, and enjoyed the closure of my first evening in Tokyo.
A lot more was yet to come and I needed a long and good sleep to be ready for that.