Japan Trip 2010 – Day 00-01

Our epic trip to Japan has come to an end! A mountain of photos and blogging awaits me. We did so much stuff I think I’ll have to break up some individual days into multiple blog posts. Anna also is blogging our entire trip, so for a different perspective check our her post for Day 00-01.

All packed and ready to go!

The plane ride to Japan went very smoothly without any problems. When we got to JFK we got some sandwiches and a bagel to eat. They had a selection of *premium* beers which included Heineken and Corona for $7.25!!! We actually cut it a bit close with our boarding because our flight was for 1:45 and around 1:20 we headed over to the gate. A woman working for the airport asked if we were going to Tokyo then asked us to please hurry because the plane had mostly been boarded already. We made it on with no problems.

Dude at JFK waiting for his flight.
The entire flight was 13-14 hours but I passed the time listening to old episodes of the Webcomics Weekly podcast. I also finished a few levels in Super Scribblenauts which I’ll write a review of later. I played a bit of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future too. The rest I must’ve been sleeping on and off, but I didn’t feel like I slept much at all. They had problems with their video setup so there were NO MOVIES!!
The food was pretty awful. The first meal was a choice of a beef dish with hoisin sauce or a chicken dish with some kind of mango sauce thing. As I ate the beef it I pictured the nutrition facts that probably said something like 45% of recommended daily value of sodium. It was really salty. The chicken had the mushiest, gluiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever seen. Anna couldn’t even finish them. The chicken was kind of too sweet too. Oh well. The most edible thing were the three shrimp cocktails. I think there’s really only so much you can cut corners on shrimp.
Disgusting gluey mashed potatoes? Yes please!

The mid flight snack was a ham sandwich which was the “best” thing I ate on the plane. The last meal was a choice of shrimp fried rice and an omelette. The shrimp fried rice barely tasted like rice because it was really soft. The omelette was what I expected with that carton egg flavor and texture. There was some fruit too. I actually ate most of this meal. I decided not to indulge in the free alcohol because being on a plane my body just feels ill at ease and I didn’t feel like I’d be able to enjoy it.

Is it bad to drink more than your weight in sake?

At the airport we had a bit of trouble figuring out which post office to pick up our rental phone at but eventually found it. We were also looking around for the best place to exchange some money to get us into Tokyo. Turns out all of them exchanged at the same rate despite having different numbers on their displays. The buying rate they had was an absolutely dismal ~76¥ to the dollar T_T I was fascinated with the way that the woman at the bank counted bills, but I can’t for the life of me remember how she handled the bills. We dropped our luggage off at one of the delivery service places. For about $20 a suitcase they delivered our luggage to where we were staying!

Japan’s trains make a good first impression.

We took the JR train into Tokyo. It was super new and clean!! They also had these cool lock chain things for your luggage where you put a flexible chain around the loop of your suitcase, pick a combination and it’s locked! Our combination was 999 of course. About an hour later we arrived at Tokyo and had to take the train to the apartment of Anna’s brother. It took a little bit to figure out the subway ticket machine, but actually it’s pretty idiot proof. Just press the amount you want to pay and insert money.

Cool luggage locking device on the train to Tokyo.

Everyone and their mom in Japan is on a cell phone and there are a gazillion different types of phones of every shape and color. I saw this otaku looking guy with a AA battery attachment on his phone watching some girl group video. A surprisingly number of people don’t hold onto bars or straps on the subway, just standing and hopping around whenever the train jerks. I wonder why this is? It wasn’t like the train was that much smoother than the NYC subway.

Dude’s first ride on the Japanese subway. Consensus? Butts here are universally smaller and less space hogging.

We met up with Anna’s sister-in-law and some of her friends. We drank beer, shochu and wine at this izakaya. We had a bunch of different foods. First was some chicken mixed with some kind of veggie that are battered and fried on a stick. It was pretty crispy and the chicken was good, and the potato-like veggie mixed in gave it some different textures.

Fried chicken and veggie skewer things.

There was also a small platter of sashimis that I think were like tuna, chicken and some other things. The edges were slightly cooked, good variety and nice assortment of mustards and stuff to eat them with. I don’t know if they were being polite or just not that hungry, but I got to eat a lot of this plate. Also had some rice and a salad with avocado and tuna in it. The salad was probably my favorite thing that we ate there. I looove avocado and tuna and they were both very fresh and tasty in this dish. It was a great assortment of flavors and textures. There was also a light tofu dish that I ate with rice which was good.

Tuna, avocado salad thing. Mmmmmmm.

After that we went to this small Thai place called Hyoutan (link goes to their blog which is in Japanese)  where we had more beer and some kind of Thai whiskey. Little did I know that this place would end up being our “second bar” for the entire vacation. It’s okay though because the owners are very nice and the food was good. Not too often I feel like I’m having authentic Thai cuisine. That’s probably because I usually eat Thai food at Lemongrass Grill 😛 We ate some spring rolls which were thicker than any spring rolls that I’ve had, but very tasty! The chicken was pretty spicy for me, but I imagine this kind of spiciness is probably more like what real Thai food is like. I’m just a wuss so I couldn’t eat too much of it.

Thai spring rolls, very tasty.
Thai chicken dish, pretty spicy.

We got to the apartment later and took a nice hot bath. All the light fixtures and stuff in the apartment are super nice. So many buttons to push! Toilet, light switches, bath tub etc. The tub was soooooo relaxing. The combination of sleep deprivation, alcohol and the warm water meant I was in some kind of trance almost. When I finally got into bed I think it was mere seconds from when my head hit the pillow to when I fell asleep.

Continue to my post for Day 2.

We took thousands of photos on this trip so check our our flickr sets. We made different comments on the photos so if you have time check them both out. Mine for Day 00-01 and Anna’s for Day 00-01.


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