Friday, 5 January 2018

Japan, Day 2: First feel

You can say that our first contact with Japan outside the arrival hall was the 7-Eleven outlet at the airport.

We were famished. We hadn't eaten since the unexpected overnight stay at Incheon. So we filed into 7-Eleven and started gawking at the food sold there. All sorts of Japanese food imaginable, all telling us: "Pick me, pick me!"

We grabbed a few things, paid for them and started eating right outside. In front of people walking briskly between the airport and the train station. And all the time, my son kept telling us: "This is Japan, this is Japan. We shouldn't be blocking the passageway." So after we had finished eating, what now? To go to our airbnb apartment, of course! On our very first rail ride in Japan from Haneda international airport to the Ikebukuro station.

During the journey to Ikebukuro, I was actually a bit relieved that, thanks to Typhoon Lan, we had arrived in Tokyo during the day and not the previous night. This was a silver lining. If we had arrived late at night, I had feared that we could have missed the last train leaving from the airport station and we would be forced to buy the late-night express bus tickets to Ikebukuro station.

Not only would the bus tickets be way more expensive than the ¥750 for each train ticket, the bus would not have stopped where I wanted and we would have to walk right across the station. That wasn't a big deal but as first-timer visitors to Tokyo, I would want to be certain that the station would be open round-the-clock. Would it also close at midnight? Or soon after midnight?

Days before our journey, I had contacted the owner of the airbnb apartment to inquire about getting to his apartment. At first, I thought, wow, this Japanese guy can at least understand and communicate in English, giving me the required information and how to retrieve the keys from the postbox. But when I inquired further about the apartment's location and details on the Ikebukuro station, whether it was open 24 hours, the poor chap went completely silent after a while. It was then that I realised that my questions were now beyond him and I had better seek answers elsewhere from other people who had been to Japan. Poor me, poor him.

Anyway, we did find the building and we did locate the keys to the apartment. My impression can be summed in three words: clean, compact, cramped.

Yes, it was clean with everything in their proper place. All the conveniences of a holiday stay were there....well-stocked bathroom, bath towels, washing machine, small wardrobe for the clothes, kitchenette with accompanying utensils, foldable table and a chair, television set, a portable WiFi and most importantly, an air-conditioner.

And yet, it was small and compact, something which I was prepared for. I think the best way to describe our airbnb accommodation was that it would qualify as a studio apartment back home. If it was meant for one or two persons to stay, the place would be all right. But for four persons to live here even for only two or three days, it was cramped. Especially when the mattresses were lain down on the floor and with our respective luggage bags all opened up. Nevertheless, this was a holiday, right? We were prepared to accept everything and anything.

Previous: From Incheon to Haneda

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