So here I am, I’ve finally made it to Japan! After a long and stressful journey with Hainan Airlines, i was very happy to arrive on time (my journey and review of the airline will come later on).
Here are my initial thoughts after 48 hours in Japan:
#1 – First class airport customs of Narita
After a long journey the last thing you want is to wait about for hours at the customs. In Narita Airport, everything was well organised and stress-free. First you get your picture and fingerprints taken and then head to the desk to get your visa – done in just under 15 mins, very efficient!
#2 – ATM machines don’t like European cards
I’m now out of the airport and want to take some cash out so heading to the nearest ATM. I insert my card and the machine tells me I’ve got the wrong PIN code, try again and same thing happens … Weird as I’m sure it is the right one! Decided to try another card and another ATM and now it works! The same thing is that it happened again the following day. Basically some ATMs will not accept your overseas card so be careful!
#3 – Tokyo is a busy city but it does not feel like it
I’ve finally made it to central Tokyo and alight my bus at Ginza. Busy stylish area of town with loads of people but still feel pretty quite and not rushed like any other busy capitals I’ve been in. In Tokyo, the atmosphere is all relaxed, people take the time to do things and even wait for the green light to cross most of the time. It’s also very clean even though there is barely any bin in the streets!
#4 – The Shinkansen trains are bloody amazing!
The next day I took the train to Hakone, a countryside area located one hour way from Tokyo which is a popular weekend getaway destination. For your first time, leave early as it’s not always easy to find the right platform for your train, especially if like me, you leave from Tokyo Station and there are hundreds of trains and pannels with information. We got a bit overwhelmed so had to ask the information centre for help to find the right platform.
The train has arrived but the doors are locked as the maids are cleaning it before we board! We can finally enter and it’s all very spacious with loads of overhead space for your luggage (it fitted my big backpack no problem) and space for your legs.
We leave Tokyo at a very high speed but the thing is that you don’t really feel like it’s going that fast and it’s also pretty quiet! Another thing I noticed is the controllers are always bowing before entering each car as a sign of respect for the passengers – wondering whether it’s a cultural thing or just part of their job!
#5 – Eating can be challenging in Japan but tasty!
If like me you’re a bit of a fussy eater then you’ll find eating in Japan a bit challenging. First of all menus aren’t always translated in English so you just have to try to communicate with the staff or just rely on dodgy pictures. Sometimes you get lucky and you receive what you were expecting but sometimes not.
Thing is that I’m abroad so I try to experience the local cuisine and broaden my tastes but it’s not always easy though I’ll get there after a few days.
Finally they don’t really hand out knive and fork so I just had to learn to use chopsticks – challenging at first but again I’ll get used to it 🙂
So here are the few things that grabbed my attention after 48 hours in Japan. Stay tuned for more stories and travel tips coming your way!