Some classmates and I decided to venture to Tokyo for a weekend. Because I was heading home immediately after the program ends, this was my only opportunity to see the capital. Together we were able to figure out getting plane and bus tickets, and I was able to use my insider connection (Masanori, a boy who was an exchange student back in California and who lives in Tokyo) to get help finding a decent hotel. He even called the hotel to book us while he was still in America.
Our first challenge was in locating our bus to take us from school to the airport. The station above APU’s campus is fairly large, and we weren’t sure which parking lot the bus would take. One of my classmates tried asking a bus driver for directions. I watched the exchange from a short distance, noticing how confused my classmate looked as the driver impatiently repeated his directions. Everyone except I in our Tokyo-bound group was first-level Japanese students. I didn’t know much either, so it felt strange to be the group’s speaking representative. I hurried over to save my classmate. The bus driver repeated his story to me, and I was able to make out that our bus would be coming to the upper parking lot; if we hadn’t asked, we would have missed it. It pays to know a little bit of the language, or at least carry a traveler’s handbook with you.
The plane ride to Tokyo was pleasant; everyone is so polite and helpful at Japanese airports. After we arrived, the boys headed off to find their own place to stay. As for us three girls, we couldn’t have found our hotel without the help of Masanori. Like a trail of lost ducks behind the leader, we followed him through the train stations and streets until coming to the high-rise hotel in Shinjuku. Because it was dark, my first impression of Tokyo was a sea of colored lights filled with people regardless of the late hour.
I was interested in the way you had to slide your hotel key in the elevator to go to different floors, for security. The room was crowded so tightly by the three beds that there was barely walking space between them. None of it was as fancy as our Best Western hotel in Nagasaki, but as a compromise between luxury and cost, it was perfect for our short stay.
Step one—getting there without missing buses, planes or trains—was a success. In retrospect I am amazed at how easily everything could have gone wrong; if we hadn’t asked the bus driver or understood his directions, missing the bus would have led to missing the plane, which would have led to missing the check-in hours at the hotel. None of the employees of any of the services we used knew much English, so we were really yolo-ing it until Masanori took over. The trip was nerve-wracking and fun, and I’m glad I did it.
Because WordPress doesn’t show title/caption/alt text/descriptions on cover images, I’m placing the credit for the cover image here: Tokyo View from Mori Tower.
Japanexperterna [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
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