I arrived at Narita at night, it had been a very long day of travelling to get there and my first experience wasn’t crazy technology, no, it was possibly the exact opposite. What did I find? The squat toilet at the airport. Somehow I never imagined this was something I’d find in Japan, but as few as there might be, I found one. Next up, the train. I arrived alone to the city. My traveling companions all arrived early in the day from Paris and it was my job to find the hotel and them. If ever I felt apprehensive about a trip this was it. In the couple weeks leading up to it. I had printed off my hotel bookings in english (for me) and in Japanese (for everyone else) so that if I got lost, hopefully I’d be in good hands. I suppose I wasn’t really nervous but I knew that embarking on a trip all the way across the Pacific without Cheri (who I always thought I’d go to Japan with) to lead the way, might be a little harder than most other places I’ve visited. The only other place that felt a bit similar might have been Ukraine (due to the Cyrillic alphabet.) When I was sitting in Canada looking things up on my computer and looking up addresses I could feel my stomach turn every time I realized I couldn’t read a single character on google maps. How would I ever find the hotel? The truth is, it actually wasn’t so bad once I got there. I’m not really sure how I ended up working it out but I did and it was just fine. I even surprised myself with just how much fish I managed to eat over the course of two weeks. Who would have thought? My mom sure wouldn’t have.
Though I worried I’d be wandering after dark without a phone, I arrived and found them all sipping drinks in the hotel lounge that overlooked the river and the undulating overpasses with seeming lego cars zipping along them. Before I had much time to greet everyone and get back on my feet, I was waist deep in a Teppanyaki meal and a cool glass of a smooth sake and a bobbing head trying to stay awake.
The city was dense and seemingly without end and parks seemed hidden until they were right in front of you and then they opened up with huge walk ways and perfectly shaped trees. Nothing was out of place. We soon learned the art of being a tourist in Japan, always walking on our left, always carrying a bag for garbage (or carrying nothing at all) since finding a bin was perfectly impossible. We learned to order meal tickets from vending machines and present them to the bar to be served steaming hot bowls of ramen on rainy days or to laugh at all the markings on the sidewalks reminding you it was forbidden to walk and smoke which, for the French, is asking a lot. We enjoyed the novelty of automatic doors on taxis, self parking carparks and bike garages which whisked away your items into an unknown abyss. It was a trip inside a trip.
The following few posts will feature photos from the trip (which was too image heavy to fit into one.) Also thank you to Jérémies iphone for contributing to these posts.
I present part 1: