(Originally written: August 4, 2013)
We are in Tokyo!!!
Our flight arrived at 3:15pm Tokyo time. A note to future JETs: when they mention the “long walk through Narita Airport,” they really do mean a long, long, looooong walk. We got off the plane and walked, and walked, and walked some more, following the Tokyo Orientation Assistants (TOAs), all of whom were wearing bright green T-shirts, to Stage 1: Immigration. JETs had their own special line; even so, we waited for about 20 minutes (we were lucky – we were one of the first groups off the plane and people behind us in line had even longer waits). They took our fingerprints and a picture, then handed us our residence cards – thankfully, they used a picture we had given them previously for our residence cards; after a thirteen hour direct flight, I wasn’t exactly looking very photogenic!
Once we made it through Immigration, it was on to Stage 2: Baggage Claim. We managed to get luggage carts (life saver!!!!), and we piled all of our luggage onto the carts.
Stage 3 was Customs. There was no JET line here; we could pick whichever line we wanted. I almost forgot to hand in my Yakkan Shoumei – the certificate that allows me to take a year’s supply of my prescription medication with me. They actually didn’t ask for it as I went through, and I had to run back to the guy and apologize and hand it in. He still took it, though, and filed it away. Phew. That was a close one!
Then there was more walking. And walking. Oh, and an escalator that you could actually bring the luggage cart on! That was pretty cool. And we walked some more. Finally we got to the re-packing area (although my smart planning meant that I didn’t have to re-pack anything, yahoo!), so we walked straight outside and towards the buses.
After a lot more walking, we made it to where the buses were stationed. We dropped off our luggage to be shipped, dropped off the cart, then took our remaining luggage to the bus. I had packed two large suitcases, one carry-on suitcase, and a large purse, but I took only my carry-on suitcase and my large purse with me to Tokyo; I sent my two large suitcases ahead to Akita.
(Author’s note from the future: It’s September 5th and I have yet to be billed for the cost of transporting my two pieces of luggage from the Tokyo Airport to my BOE!)
At 5:00pm, almost two hours after landing, we finally got on the bus to Tokyo.
The bus ride into Tokyo took us two hours. The ride itself was pretty amazing – Tokyo is such a BIG CITY. Having been to Toronto, London, and New York City on several occasions, I thought I knew what to expect. Nope. Tokyo is on a whole new level. Wow.
We arrived at the Keio Plaza Hotel at 7pm and, after freshening up, met up with a few new JETs for supper in Shinjuku.
We went to a place where you actually placed your order/paid using a vending machine, and then sat at a counter, where the food was brought to you almost instantly. I had a bowl of gyudon and miso soup and it cost me 230 yen – or approximately $2.30. Sooo cheap, but so yummy! It was a nice first meal in Japan. :)
We were pretty tired, so we walked around for only a short while before returning to the hotel. Tokyo Orientation officially starts tomorrow and we have to be up bright and early for the 7am breakfast!