Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Adventures in Japan: Part I (planes and trains and rice fields, oh my!)

Lately I've been thinking ever so much about my trip to Japan with my boyfriend. We went from June 10th to June 22nd and I still can't expel the excitement of having gone, or wanting to go again for that matter.

The instance I saw the shores of Japan from our plane seats I was on cloud 9...thousand and 82 to be a little over-exaggerated, but that's how I felt. I just felt over exaggerated. My face could most likely have been described as an emoticon, like this one^∇^. You may need to add all the sparkly looks to it.

Anywhos, I was going for my first time !ever! to cross an ocean and enter another country and I was overly excited and had difficulties containing myself. My boyfriend, who has been to the land of the rising sun once before, was not as excited but happy enough to take me to a place I've been dreaming of going since my dad told me all about his trips as a ships captain. So about 4 years old.

We planned to go to as many places as possible; Yokosuka (to visit the naval base my boyfriend was stationed at), Tokyo, Harajuku, Akihabara, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Nipporri, Kyoto, and Hokkaido, this list could go on. We didn't get to the hot springs of Hokkaido or Kyoto, though. As a matter of fact, we didn't even get that far either way, Japan is just too big and amazing to try to fit into 12 days.

Alright so I've laid my background and I will try to be thorough in any way I can, this is partially for you, whoever reads this, and partially so I can assure I can always remember what we did, where we went, and who we met.

We went from TF Green Airport and hopped down to Washington and then took a direct flight to Narita Airport. The flights were a total of 16 hours and it is the most uncomfortable trip that we weren't prepaired for. If you plan on taking lolita, DO NOT wear it on the plane, wear something as comfortable as possible. The difficult part is knowing when your supposed to sleep to catch up on the time zone or if at all. I still haven't figured it out.

Yeah see this little plane...that's the one to do the little jump.

Not the big one I thought we'd be taking...
(ps. That's Garu, we took his pics everywhere.)

Okay, so the first thing we absolutely had to do, after we got to Japan, was get through customs and get our baggage, which isn't difficult at all. You just have to walk through the airport from your loading dock and find the desk with the guy who stamps you into the country.

On the way from point A to point B we used the nearest facilities (believe me, your baggage will take a bit, you have time) and you'll want to use them. Even after being on a plane with a bathroom for 13 to 16 hours it's just a little more comfortable, however, this is where you learn that the button that says "flush" on the toilet controls may actually be just a trick the designer wanted to play on anyone who has no clue as to how to use their toilet! Yeah, that was me, confused by the button that only made the flushing noise, you'll see the actual flush lever where it should be...the left hand side of the toilet. WHY it's in my blog? Because I bet you'd do it too. I did it then, to make it stop, turn down the volume until you could figure out how to stop it.

So, after bathroom humor, you go to customs part to get stamped, pick up your luggage, then proceed to the airport security asking you the basics of "why are you here" kind of stuff and "do you need to claim anything?" It's all really easy, right there after you grab your bag, no confusion. And if you've flown before you know what to bring and what you should or shouldn't have, know your "Airplane Oppropriate."

This is NEX.

If you don't do a package through your travel agency don't frett there is always the Narita Express, or NEX, with it's magically easy ride through the country without having to jump between lines and getting confused. It runs on high speede rails and arrives at the airport every 30 minutes for stops in Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, and Yokohama. We were staying in Shinjuku, so we had a bit to go.
This is a NEX passing us by to go back to Narita Airport.

Easily enough you could put your luggage on a luggage rack, either in the front or back of the cart that were equipped with a cord lock to prevent theft. I believe you put in your own combination so they're all different but I can't remember for certain.

A stewardess with her hair neatly kept and a cute uniform would come in with her cart. She would open the glass separation door, bow, then bring her cart filled with slightly pricey beverages and snacks. It is a good way to get coin yen after you've done your currency exchange at the airport. The regular railways, like the Jr Line and Metro Line, are easier to have coinage for just in my opinion.

It was wonderful and relaxing as the car passed by rice patties and farms watching trucks putter by around curvy roads. The rice looked as though it was about 4 inches above water in their perfect little rows in their perfect little water plots. Their stalks were a vibrant green and only just splayed their limbs out from their centers, like hands opening to the sky.

The houses, although fields apart, often looked like modernized yet still wore the architectural aesthetic of a very traditional japanese home. And there was bamboo, and I realize I don't have many pictures of what I tried to capture.

A few stops in we started to see a change from the farm land with the lush patty fields to more urban and modern cities, with structures that argued shape and bore ads for pachinko or ramen. The buildings all varied from one another, some well-kept, others well-used. It was exactly as I had imagined what it would look like.

My favorite building, maybe because it was so very random, had to be the a building of 6 floors all of the same noodle shop. At least that is what it looked like. It was Squished between to giant apartment buildings when the cities began to spring up. I unfortunately couldn't get a pic of it. Moving trains and buildings are apparently not my forte in picture taking...

It was beautiful and I will never forget it.

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