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I lied…

2008 June 5

… when I said I’d be updating from my hotel in Narita. I’m updating from my hotel in Ueno!

But first: my prediction about not being able to sleep on the plane was right. The various small Japanese children worked it out so that one of them was crying or making loud noises at all times. Also, the first-class seats on ANA planes are seriously swanky. The first-first class people had individual living rooms, practically.

My plan worked out almost flawlessly. I changed some money at Narita after coming through customs, used the bathroom (regular toilet, although there was one labeled with an outline of a pooping butt which might have been a “squatty potty”), and then headed for TIC – the Tourist Information Center, which is also a reservation point for Welcome Inn hotels. I explained that I was going to be taking the Jouetsu shinkansen (bullet train) to Echigo-Yuzawa on my way to Kanazawa on Saturday, and in the meantime I wanted to spend two nights at a hotel near one of the stations where the Jouetsu line stops – preferably one that had internet access. Turns out that Jouetsu stops at Tokyo station and Ueno station, but Ueno I think is second on the line, and Tokyo station is right in the middle of crazy ol’ Tokyo while Ueno is sort’ve a suburb but on the best train lines. The attendant booked me at the Hotel New Izu in Ueno; I have a Japanese-style room with a private bath, and it’s really nice. Ceilings are rather short – and the door is adorably so – but that suits me; I’m a short person! The toilet even has a Toto Washlet, the website for which is creepy yet hilarious. I haven’t tried out the washing feature, but the seat is heated…

Anyway,  I took a train from Narita to Ueno and then ran into the flawed part of the plan – namely, Hotel New Izu is hard to find! The smaller streets around here don’t appear to have names, and it’s sure hard to find the names on the big ones, so I took a wrong turn immediately from the train station and ended up staring at a map of the suburb by a park trying to put things together. Lucky for me another gaijin ran into me and decided to do me a good turn. He asked some people for directions that just ended up getting us more lost, then called a cab that got me here for ¥710. After I got my key, though, he took me out to show me the main train station in Ueno and to get some food – lots of fun and very helpful, except that I got lost again trying to get back to my hotel and had to get another cab to look it up via Garmin. I’m venturing out tomorrow to Akihabara, but I’m triple-checking to make sure I know the way back first.

I’m going to clean up the room and take some quick pictures for Flickr so that you can see my excellent hotel room; then I’m off to sleep at last. Gonna try to get up around 10 tomorrow to converse with family and friends online.

P.S. Travel tip of the day – do not look at or talk to other people on the train. I think people have told me this before, but I didn’t realize how accurate it was.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. dad permalink
    2008 June 5 9:24 am

    Warning, The June 5th posting is a bit scary for parents.

  2. marainjapan permalink
    2008 June 5 9:35 am

    I know. But I watched my back, he didn’t attempt to take me anywhere weird or take money from me or anything, and he helped me out a lot.

  3. Andrew permalink
    2008 June 5 12:55 pm

    What an exciting trip! More pictures!!
    The iPhone refresh to be released in a few weeks will be offered by Softbank in Japan, and, may possibly include character recognition!

  4. Becca permalink
    2008 June 11 4:03 pm

    Oh my goodness. That website may be the creepiest thing of all time. All those faces talking to you, telling you that old people can be cleaner, or young people, or anyone!

    Sounds like you’re having adventures already, which is awesome. And you’re totally right; I’m having a hard time deciding what parents need to or don’t need to know, and reconciling that with what I want to tell my friends of sketchy adventures 🙂

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