I started my trip with the horrible realization that my universal adapters are not actually universal. Which explains why I didn’t post yesterday, since I didn’t take the battery of my computer so my bag wouldn’t be too heavy.
Anyway, adapters. Last time I visited Japan, I still lived in Switzerland, and I compensated for the lack of CH-JP adapter by plugging my stuff in a French adapter that was then hooked to a FR-JP adapter. I didn’t think, and packed the same adapters this time, but I’m now using UK plugs.
I have one adapter that works with UK plugs but not JP. The other adapter works with JP but not UK. *pulls hair* I had to go all the way to Akihabara because the Yodobashi building, a massive electronics store, is the place where I knew I could find what I needed.
Now that the plug story is out of the way (I apologize if I disappointed anyone, that story could have been much spicier with another kind of plug, alas I do not recommend using the plug I just bought in this way. Maybe you’re into that, who knows), let’s start!
Don’t expect a “discovery” blog, especially here in Tokyo. When you’ve been there so many times, there is not much to discover and scream about. What you will find however, is Engrish, ridiculous gadgets, and little things I enjoy. I am shamelessly reusing my own pictures from 2010 in this post.
Can I take Japan Airlines and travel in Premium Eco all the time from now on? Even Economy looked comfy. What made it so great? Dreamliner, the plane I gushed about so much in 2012 to go from Tokyo to Kagoshima. The cabin is huge, the ceiling high, so it gives a better feeling overall compared to other planes. Cabin pressure is adjusted differently so you don’t feel it as much and it’s less noisy somehow. There are coloured lights on the ceiling, which change depending on the time of the day and help waking up. Windows are just a bit smaller than on the A380 and don’t have blinds, instead you press a button to darken or lighten them. The personal TVs aren’t too small. The toilets… now that surprised me. The cubicle was huge. It also had an actual ToTo toilet with the ass-washing water thingy, probably exclusive to Japan Airlines since it’s one of the first things people are amazed/scared by when they visit the country. It also explains why passengers spent so much time in there.
The food was meh. I chose the fish, which came with miso soup, fruits, roast beef slices, soba noodles and a bunch of other stuff. The miso was great. The rest wasn’t too bad. Breakfast was a pork cutlet sandwich, blueberry yogurt and fruits.
My seat was great. No seat in front of me, plenty of space. It reclines inside its shell so no fear of bothering anyone.
I was lucky enough to be next to one of the rare persons who did not darken the window. We were treated to a sea of stars, then, to our amazement, to an aurora borealis that lasted for hours. The pilot even turned around once so the unlucky people on the other side could see it. Unfortunately, my camera wasn’t charged, and my phone camera was too crappy for night pictures. We then had a fantastic sunrise to admire. This flight was enjoyable enough that it seemed much, much shorter than my flight to Florida.
I got a nosebleed at some point and the hostess who saw it panicked. Dry air in the cabin. So dry the skin on my index finger cracked (it hurts to type). This is probably an “exclusive” on the Dreamliner so bring hand cream. Or it was just me. I also didn’t sleep for a second. The flight from Dublin to Helsinki was fine too, it was with Finnair and I love them.
The Arrival and Day 0 and 1
Painless. It’s the first time I’m not interrogated at immigration. Fingerprints, ugly mugshot, stamped passport and off we go. It’s also only the second time my luggage is not checked at customs. I almost miss the ultra-polite “may I please move this shirt there to check what’s under it?”
I exchanged money after queuing for ages, then decided to be lazy and send my luggage to my hotel. I used Kuroneko, the company I always entrust my stuff to when I move around the country and don’t want to drag my suitcase with me. I forgot that even inside the airport, English is barely used, and my brain was having trouble adjusting and finding words. You don’t stop practicing for 5 years and expect to have the same (ultra crappy) level you had back then.
Now only with my backpack and handbag, I spent 10 minutes looking for the rental WiFi counter. I rented the device through the JRpass.com website, and I did look up where to pick it up but I forgot in the meantime. So, if you’re renting Ninja WiFi, the counter is QL liner.
I then made good use of my day room at the Hilton, for a 3h nap that was the worst idea I ever had. I woke up much more exhausted than before and could barely function. I was also starving. I went back to the airport to exchange my JRPass and take the Narita Express to Shinagawa, where I was meeting up with Ally.
Since this blog is new, you don’t have the 2010/2013 adventures as reference, but Ally and I have known each other for about 9-10 years, an online friendship that led us to spend a month in Japan together in 2010 and 3 weeks in the US in 2013 (and a day in Paris in 2008(?), 2 days in Berlin in 2011 for the red bras that made Internet history. Well, more like Gackt fandom history). I was so excited to see her again that it woke me up completely.
When I got to my hotel in Kamata (which is surrounded by all kinds of restaurants), I was still fully awake, and after spending a while figuring out the plug issue, I went to bed and woke up at 1am, then was unable to go back to sleep. Due to this, I crashed at 2pm today with no access to my room due to cleaning, then took the nap I swore I wouldn’t take because I need to get used to the time difference.
I had no plan for today, mostly because I knew I wouldn’t be feeling good enough for anything, so I just headed to Akihabara, the geek district, in my quest for the elusive UK-JP plug (awards 24000 XP and gives a bonus for finding the entrance to Yodobashi when you choose the wrong exit at the station).
This simple trip exhausted me completely. I was napping by 3pm, trying to wake up at 5 then forcing myself to go out to eat because I found a very nice restaurant close to Kamata station. (Highly recommended, it’s the Everest, the staff is from Nepal and the food is to die for).
I am impatiently waiting to meet up with Ally tomorrow morning in Ikebukuro. I am also very disappointed that the infamous Spices of Death, a complimentary “tea” always present in the hotel chain I’m staying at, is not there this time. There goes my genius masterplan to offer it to unsuspecting victims when I return home. In Ally’s words from 7 years ago (don’t deny it I have it on video), “this thing is gonna start WWIII, and children will start bleeding from the ears”. There is another one that might be similar but there is no way in hell I am taking the risk to taste it.
The pen I always steal is there, though *puts it into my bag*
Food of the day(s)
A crêpe at Le Grand Breton (8th floor of Yodobashi). Lacked salt.
Seafood masala and cheese naan at Everest, 1min walk from Kamata station East Exit, fantastic, I’m going back next week
Seafood and rice, I don’t know the name of the restaurant but it’s in Atre Shinagawa(Takanawa exit), just when you enter, downstairs. Sooo yummy!