Japan 2019 – the beginning

At the time of this writing I’m in Japan for a nearly-two week vacation. I belatedly decided that I should write a blog post for each day, and then that I should do a pre-day 1 post giving a little bit of background first. (We’ll see how well I keep up with it though.)

This is my third international trip and I would say the “most adult” one, in the sense that previously, there were other people organizing my trip heavily. It’s also the least English-saturated place I have ever been. I’m here with two of my best friends, who are also housemates – Mikel and Jesse (the trip being Jesse’s idea). We’ve compiled things we’re interested in but we don’t have a strict itinerary.

We flew from SFO to Haneda (one of the two major international airports in Tokyo), which is a 10 hour flight. That went pretty well. Here’s a picture of the first in-flight meal:

Beef over rice, salad with Italian dressing, etc.

We also got ice cream


Here’s the flight tracker as we passed over the international date line

For some reason I thought this was notable

We landed around 6pm local time (2am home-time). When we booked the flight, we were due to arrive at 7pm, but day light savings time gave us an extra hour. Customs had a bit of a line but everything went fine.

From the airport, we had to head to our Airbnb. (It was Jesse’s idea. I was more inclined toward a hotel, at least for the first night, but he said that the Airbnb was a traditional kinda place and that sold me.) Jesse wanted to use Uber (no Lyft in Japan) but only Uber Black was available, and it was expensive, so we opted for a taxi. That was still around $90 (USD) for a 30 minute ride, which was a bit of a shock in spite of having been forewarned – we decided it was worth it to not have to worry about public transit as we arrived, and I do not regret it.

My initial impression of Tokyo from the taxi was not exactly what I expected. I had been told first and foremost that it is a very clean city, but I saw trash bags sitting in alleys (maybe waiting to be picked up?) and I still get the fart-smell that seems to take up chunks of space in large cities. There will be more time for a more thorough opinion later though.

When the taxi dropped us off, we were very confused. Our Airbnb is an apartment on the 9th floor of a large building. We were actually one building over, and should have caught onto this because I’m pretty sure that building only had eight floors. Anyway, after a little bit of stress we made it in fine. I thought I took some pictures, and planned to post them here, but they’re actually videos and I’m too lazy to screenshot them so here we are.

I did get some pictures from our place though, here’s the most interesting one:

I thought this showed our view pretty well

The toilet here has a bidet, which I refuse to use – my butt hole is fine as-is, thank you. That said, my friends wanted to use it and the Japanese instructions were… interesting. Below I include an unaltered photo followed by a screenshot of a Google Translate photograph overlay:

This is arguably more mysterious than the previous picture

Bidet aside, we were pretty exhausted. Around 9pm I went to take a shower (which was hard to figure out how to do honestly) and when I got out twenty-five minutes later my buddies had knocked out! I started reading my book (Heroes Die – a recommendation from my brother) and gave up trying to stay up around 9:40pm. We all slept ok but more about that in the next post!

Next: Day 1

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