Arriving in Tokyo, Tuesday 18-Oct

Just as Monday was a short day, so was Tuesday. We landed at Narita International Airport around 3pm, and it took us almost a couple hours before we were on the train to the city.

Long flights always play games on your system. On this one, it was daylight outside from takeoff to landing, but most people shut their window shades so others could sleep. We also took a near-polar route, flying over Anchorage, going on the north side of the Bering Sea to Russia, then down the Kamchatka Peninsula to Japan. If you think about it, if you were to go directly north to the pole then directly south, you'd end up an hour or so to the west of Japan due to the earth's rotation and the length of our flight. Flight paths are strange things.

Being the map almost-nerds that we are, we followed the flight on the entertainment center. Unfortunately, mine hung up every time I tried to start it, but Melody's worked. At least mostly; towards the end of the trip, it started hanging too, but we were able to get things going for a while.

Neither of us are good at sleeping on planes, but we did take short naps every now and then. The plane never really quieted down like it does on red eye flights, but the white noise all around us mostly negated that. I ended up leaving my earbuds in to help cut some of that.

The first thing we noticed as we stepped off the plane was the humidity. Not stifling, but definitely there. The airport signage was quite good, so it was easy to know where we needed to go for immigration and customs; good thing, since it was quite a distance. We had already filled out our paperwork on the plane, so we joined the long line. After the returning Japanese nationals had gone through immigration, visitors were also sent to those stations. They even opened up the stations for dignitaries, which is where Melody and I ended up. So instead of the normal 30 minute wait, we ended up waiting only 10–15 minutes.

Since we didn't check any luggage, we proceeded to customs, which was pretty quick. After that, it was out to the airport proper, and time to start checking our list of things to do.

First, cash. Checking the map, the ATM was right around the corner. Next, maps. Those were on the other side of the escalator. Next, activate our rail passes. Down the escalator, and the office was right there. The wait was pretty long, but once we got to the counter, the woman was extremely efficient (even in the way she unjammed her stapler). We then got Tokyo transit cards (a woman using the machine next to us was very helpful in getting us going), got directions at the counter, and proceeded to the trains.

The Tokyo subway system is massive, and it didn't take us long once we were on the train to realize that not all the stops are listed on the map. We were able to pick out stops we were looking for during the announcements, but they were also in English, which helped with the in-between stops which weren't marked on the map.

We did need to backtrack slightly at one point, but people were helpful when we asked for assistance. I tried using an offline maps app which I had preloaded, but it unfortunately completely hung my phone after getting location once, so I had to do a hard reset. However, it was useful enough that I repeated the cycle a couple times until we got to a station where I could use the free wifi and use other maps apps. That, combined with asking people a couple times, got us to to where we were staying.

We checked in, picked up the wifi hot spot, dropped our bags into the room, then went to get something to eat. There was a take-out place a block away, so we grabbed some small bento boxes and took it back to eat. After that we settled more into the room and being glad that we ate dinner only a bit late, we went to sleep.