Here we go, I’m going to start the first of many blog entries I’ll write having to do with my current trip to Tokyo. To summarize, I’m here working on researching stuff for my summer job. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be top secret or whatever, so I’m not going to go into much detail. Plus it’s boring to write about work, so I won’t focus too much on that here. Ideally, I’ll write everyday, but that won’t happen, so I’ll just try to summarize things between posts. Maybe I’m trying to make this blog more accessible and worth reading to people who don’t know me. I guess I could have some interesting insights on life in Japan? And by that I mean I like wasting money in arcades and wasting money on things like Dragonball Z keychains. Like what I’m writing? Don’t? Comment either way, even if it’s just to say hey. Might as well.

So on to what we’ll call Day Zero. I was at home in St. Louis for less than 35 hours before I left for the airport. With my flight to Houston being at 7:40AM on Monday morning, I was planning on leaving for the airport with my Dad around 5:30. Around 1AM, I decided I should stop watching News Radio with my brother and start packing. Around 4, I was not even halfway packed and thus went into a panic. It got even worse when my Dad woke up at 5, and I realized I wasn’t done yet. What followed was the fastest packing session ever, pretty much me just throwing stuff I thought I should take into my two suitcases and backpack. Somehow, I managed to do it pretty well, and even had time to take a 5 minute shower before hitting the road. Must be a record or something for me. After waiting around 45 minutes in the line to get through security at St. Louis Lambert Airport, I was on my way to Houston. It was a small plane, and I had a seat that was both a window AND aisle seat (only 1 seat on my side, 2 across the aisle). Things weren’t too bad, although St. Louis was already hot, and the plane was sitting there for a while without the air conditioning on because I think the plane’s battery was dead or something. Who knows. Either way, we were about 15 or 20 minutes delayed which had me worried because I had less than an hour scheduled to catch my flight to Tokyo. Slept the entire way, got off and went as quickly as possible from 1 terminal to another, with a tram ride in-between, and made it as my flight to Tokyo was boarding. So we’re set for now.

I don’t remember flying Continental in recent history, and for some reason I had a pre-conceived notion that it was a ghetto airline. I was somewhat wrong, which was good, as the plane was a standard nice 747 with decent seats and the personal TV with video game controller built into every seat. I had a window seat, with a Japanese chick with the artsy glasses on the aisle and an old guy in between us. Soon after taking off, within 30 minutes I learned 3 important things about this old guy, who somewhat reminded me of John Locke from Lost:

  1. He was British, or from somewhere near there. I could tell this by his accent.
  2. He was an alcoholic. I could tell this because although drinks were not free ($5 a pop), he ordered at least 6 by the time our first meal was served. Again, they were not free, and this isn’t a party, so I don’t understand his thinking.
  3. He was decaying. I could tell this because he smelled like death. You know how some old people just SMELL like old people? This guy did times like 1000, which was not comfortable to sit next to. I don’t know if it was just his old man B.O. or his breath after 6 drinks, but he smelled like death.

So that’s all for Locke. As for me, I spent most of the trip either sleeping, listening to my fancy new iPod, or doing both. I made the mistake early on of not replying to the stewardess when she asked “Would you like anything to drink?” because I was still taking my earbuds out. Of course, this went to make her assume I didn’t speak English, so she asked me in Japanese. I figured whatever, and ordered in Japanese back at her. Big mistake. The rest of the flight she assumed I was Japanese, which I suppose I could have corrected, but I was afraid she’d get mad or something. On a related note, what in the world happened to stewardesses? Didn’t they used to be hot, like back in the 80’s? I thought so at least. Nowadays, every American airline I’ve been on has had the oldest, grumpiest, frumpiest stewardesses you could ever imagine. What in the world happened? Are these the same stewardesses that used to represent men’s airline fantasies, only aged 20 or 30 years now? Asian airlines don’t seem to be as bad, but it’s still getting worse and worse every year. If you ever happen to get a flight attendant nowadays who is under the age of 30, it’s probably a dude, which just doesn’t do it for me.

I slept pretty much the first 8 hours of a 12 hour flight, which was great because it’s the best way to pass time. I listened to my iPod the rest of the time and we finally touched down around 2PM Japan time on August 1st. Went through customs fairly quickly, having to wait in line only 15 minutes or so. If I would have gotten to the customs line 10 minutes later, I would have had to wait behind an entire flight from China or something, and it would have taken over an hour. I’m glad I booked it all the way off the plane. After all that, got my luggage and a ticket for the Limousine Bus, which cost 3000 yen (a little under $30) but goes straight to my hotel. I had only about 10 minutes to catch the bus, so I called my parents real quick and got on the next ride, which was almost another 2 hours of sitting and traveling. Along the way I zoned out until we started driving through Makuhari, which finally kicked in to my brain that I was back in Japan. We drove past all sorts of places and stuff I know, which was sweet. Finally arrived in the Shinjuku area, and I had some major deja vu of Spring break in Tokyo 2004. I remember the last day of the trip getting up early and walking around the station before anything was open. But either way, I finally got dropped off at the Keio Plaza and checked in. The only downside was that there were 1400 JET orientation people at the hotel, so the elevators took forever. Once I got to my room, I unpacked and got settled into my room, which you can see part of here.
Sweet gold sheets
I’ll try to post some pictures with the blog entries for this trip, since I know I’m too lazy to actually make albums (if you haven’t noticed, I haven’t posted any new pics since March).