Leaving from home was harder than I expected. I really wished I had a few more days to get everything done and talk with my family and friends. I had one of my really good friends take me to the airport, and it was excruciatingly hard to say goodbye. After our goodbye my heart physically ached through the entirety of the security line and most of the way to San Francisco, and then it did so again every time I thought about it for the entirety of my final two flights. As a side note, San Francisco needs to plan their airport a little better; there should be no reason to force someone to go through security again on a connecting flight, particularly when their layover is less than 40 minutes. I had to really hustle and it wasn’t fun.
The flight into Narita was long, tiring, and boring. I hadn’t slept the night before my flights, and was hoping to sleep for quite a bit of the flight. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The only time I slept was after taking my sleep-aid when I already felt like I was ready to sleep, when the flight had about 9 hours left. I woke up thinking “we must be over halfway there”. However, the joke was on me, I had only slept for somewhere around 1-2 hours and were another hour or two away from being halfway there. I didn’t sleep again until about 10 that night, leaving me with very little sleep in a two day stretch.
Upon arriving at the airport the process was pretty straight forward. We had filled out the customs declaration form and the disembarkation card while on the plane, so I just followed the line to the entry point and then went up to the counter, got my residence card, and went down to claim my baggage. After claiming my baggage I wandered out through the duty free line into the lobby and saw a lot of people waiting for their family and friends to arrive. As I walked out past the entrance, I was met by my friend Yumi who had been a foreign exchange student who homestayed with my grandma many years ago. She gave me a great big hug and then we got out of the way of everyone else. She then bought me coffee and got us both bus tickets to take us into Tokyo. On the bus I didn’t even do much looking around out the windows, I was too busy chatting with Yumi!
We arrived near Shinagawa station at a hotel parking lot. We then walked over to Shinagawa station (which I quickly memorized the kanji name for), and holy crap it was busy. Even during a less busy time there was a huge crowd of people crossing the street. It felt like something out of Braveheart, with two huge battle lines rushing toward each other in the middle of the street. Yumi then went over to the ticket machine and bought us tickets to get to Kitashinagawa station and showed me how to use the ticket to enter the station and then exit at our stop. From there we walked to the Shinagawa Guest House where I would be staying the first night.
(this was actually from the second place I stayed, the Shizumasa Ryokan)
After stowing my bags we ventured out to find something to eat. I was very tired but was still excited and wanted to spend more time with Yumi while learning more things. After much debate, Yumi settled on eating at an izakaya on the 3rd floor of a building near Shinagawa station. The dining experience was quite interesting and Yumi spent way too much money on food for me. I tried to protest and pay for my own every time she paid for something, but it’s hard to do, she was very insistent. Maybe I’ll learn how to say: “I’m definitely paying and that’s that” in Japanese and solve that problem! Her help was amazing and I was really happy to see her. It doesn’t hurt that she’s stunningly beautiful too.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me or take pictures for most of the day I arrived, so the pictures in this post are from the following day.