The flight to Japan was really easy, thanks to Boeing’s beautiful 787. Entering into the plane, you’ll notice the openness and spacious ‘lobby’ and the soft lighting illuminating the interiors. Finding my seat right behind the entrance door, I pulled open the huge storage bins and was pleasantly surprised to have more than enough room for my backpacks.
After getting settled in, I started watching some TV I had downloaded, and shortly after, dinner was served. I opted for the Japanese version of the meal which served a seasonal menu with 9 small dishes. The food was delicious, and I was excited to be on my way to Japan.
The flight was smooth as anything, and before I knew it, we were descending into Tokyo from the north. Looking out the huge window, Japan sparkled below. As we approached, the lights were so small and white, and tightly compressed together that it truly looked like diamonds sparkling, and I thought of the Japanese word for something that sparkles.. kira kira. In the sound itself, you can almost sense the view.
After deplaning, I headed for customs and noticed their systems had changed. I guess everyone is now doing finger prints and facial photography for their records to get into the country now. I then headed out and made my way to my first reservation, the First Cabin. Inside the airport is a capsule hotel of sorts, which made for a very convenient way to end the flight. After checking in, I took a shower and had a quick place to crawl into bed to get some rest.
The next morning I got my things together, and headed out of the airport to my Airbnb reservation. Once at the station, I was able to easily find the apartment building. I was a little early, but they knew I would be coming in the morning, so it all worked out. They let me into the building, and Yoshi, answered the door. I was excited to use Japanese, until his fluent English made me feel silly. He had lived in the US for practically his whole childhood. I was shown my room, told how things worked, and he went back to bed.
I got my items sorted, and afterwards headed out to meet my good friend Shoko and her husband for lunch. Having Tmobile and the unlimited data/global roaming plan has been awesome. I’m able to be in contact and use maps and such to easily get train schedules, best routes places and such. Meeting Shoko was great fun, and we had a beautiful sushi lunch at Isetan. After lunch, her husband Hiroshi went back to do work, and we went out shopping and for tea to talk about our upcoming plans for Kyushu.
I started to get a bit tired at this point, so by around 4pm, I headed back to take a quick nap before meeting a fellow ICU exchange student back from 1999-2000, Martin. Martin and I left ICU and randomly reconnected one day after I stepped of a cable car in San Francisco years later. Recognizing him, but not sure where from, we instantly reconnected and remained in good contact throughout the years. Now anytime I come back to Tokyo, we catch up and enjoy a great meal together.
After our dinner at Khyber, an Indian restaurant in Ginza, I headed back home pretty exhausted and thankful for a first full day in Tokyo, soaking up every bit of Japan and Japanese I can.