2 June 2010

Day 16: Too Quick

Posted by Roland under: Travel .

A little sad to wake up in the morning, I now realized my time in Japan was wrapping up quickly. There would be no meeting with people, no fancy meals, no fancy tourist sights to see, I just wanted to squeeze as much time as I could in Tokyo before I inevitably had to head out to Narita and board on a plane back to America. A very depressing thought, I know. I wrapped up things in Asakusa relatively quickly, it wasn’t even really that hard to pack up actually and I said my goodbyes to the owner at the place, although not with a little confusion that I put them through when I asked if they saw an Ipod charger I believe I had left in behind in their place when I stayed with Tom last week (this was not the case, I eventually found it in my luggage when I got back to America).

The only little wrinkle I had about today was when and from where I should leave for Narita. I had briefly flirted with the idea of leaving from Ueno, but the fact that the JR and Keisei Ueno stations were so far apart from each other (I would come in on the JR but leave for Narita on the Keisei) made me hesitant if I could make a tight transfer time between the two. So I instead decided to go from Nippori station, a much smaller one (easier to transfer) but would instead spend most of my morning in Akihabara before then. I dropped my bags off in an Akihabara locker and started wandering around to find things to do. Unfortunately I came a bit too early, Yodobashi Camera wouldn’t open till 9:30 and the used DVD/game stores I wanted to check out didn’t open till 11. So I did my best to scout things out before 9:30 and then spent an inordinate amount of time at Yodobashi once it did open, almost so much that I realized I should get out a look at some other stores that were open before 11.

I would wander the streets of Akihabara then, poking into stores that looked like they would hold gifts of interest to people back home. Nothing really developed although it was interesting to see some of the more tiny shops. The used stores I was looking to open did eventually and I quickly grabbed the games and DVDs I was interested in (at such cut rate prices for Japan…they cost as much as American DVDs! Crazy!) and finished up my Akihabara stay with a stop by the Gundam Cafe and one more Yodobashi walk through before I officially got out of there.

At this point there really isn’t much more to say about my trip. I got on a train to Nippori and then transferred to a train for Narita. Of course there was the bittersweet feeling that your trip is finally over on that train ride when the busy city of Tokyo turns into countryside. Business as usual once I got to Narita, I had done the drill many times. Drop off my phone, check in quickly (thanks Delta status!) and then buy more random gifts for people. I just wanted to burn as much of my yen as possible and did so successfully. Although I wasn’t about to pay $9 for ramen so I settled on my usual meal before I go back to Japan, a fried shrimp burger from McDonalds (this needs to be in America, I’m serious).

My flight was delayed about 25 minutes so my stay at the gate was just a bit longer and gave me more time to reflect on my awesome time in Japan.

My first week was crazy with Tom as we basically hustled our way through multiple cities, multiple sights in such a short amount of time. Of course we had to cram in as much as we could for Tom, because his time was limited and you wanted to see as much as you could. I think we did that in spades though, I’m sure Tom had a great time, sometimes without me too, but I was able to fulfill my goal of getting him around Japan and seeing some great things.

In my second week, once Tom left, my trip took a more dramatic turn as I was now by myself. Not that I was alone, I would see some great people all over the country, but I was definitely now on the less traveled path, by both foreigners and Japanese tourists. Shizuoka was a dramatic shift from Tokyo as the city streets were almost always empty. But I would then quickly learn how much I enjoyed it since I now felt like I had space and truly enjoyed my time with Saori. The same feeling would happen when I met up with Saori’s family and even with Yuko and Maiko. I enjoyed the more intimate get togethers.

You might be asking what was so different about this trip? The first week really was a repeat of my trip with Ajay, just with another person. But I still had fun. Really though, it was getting the chance to meet so many of my Japanese friends, some of them for the first time in person, which really made this trip fantastic. This meeting was more about human interactions than going to a “must visit” trip. I’d seen most of what I wanted to see in Japan. The five islands. The three best sights. Lots of delicious food. Now it was time to meet some great people and I felt like I did.

Eventually it was time to get on the plane and back to America. How depressing. The plane ride was of little note. I watched two movies on the flight but also drank two beers, apparently enough to ensure that I got a good block of sleep on my ride (nothing amazing, maybe 2-3 hrs?). The flight back to America is always quicker than the one to Japan.

Maybe a bit too quick?

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