Japan Trip, Day 1: Traveling to Tokyo, Tokyo Tower

Or, how to get very little sleep for two days.

Lily and I arrived at the Detroit Metro Airport at 3:30am on Thursday morning, meeting up with our fellow travel companions: Lily’s friends Amy, Robert, and Diana. The objective? Two weeks of fun in Japan!

I have traveled many times to Asia, but it was always a visit back to China to see family. This would be the first time ever that I’d be flying across the ocean and I wouldn’t be making a stop in Southern China.

Flying across the International Date Line

The first flight was from Detroit to Toronto. I got no sleep on the one hour connecting flight.

I didn’t get any sleep at Toronto either. The layover was five hours long, and I spent all that time either aimlessly wondering around the shops and the food court or trying and failing to get some shut eye on the benches or at the tables.

After a decidedly average lunch in the food court, it was time to board our plane: a Boeing 787 that would take 14 hours to fly us to Tokyo.

This international flight was one of the better ones I’ve had. I find it extremely difficult to sleep sitting up, and so the typical thing for me is to stay up for the entire flight, punctuated by one or two exhaustion-induced 30 minute naps.

This time, however, I think I managed almost 2-3 hours of sleep. That’s way better than what I usually get on flights like these.

The rest of my awake hours were spent eating, listening to music on my phone, playing Bejeweled on the seat touchscreen monitor (the first time I’ve ever played this mobile game, actually, which makes me a decade behind the times), and watching 30 minutes of the movie Kung Fu Hustle. My usual “write a short novella by hand to pass the time” didn’t make an appearance on this flight.

When we landed in Tokyo, the city was covered in grey clouds and rain, obscuring our scenic aerial view as we descended.

Once we deplaned and went through immigration and customs, we took care of some business before leaving the airport. Lily went and got the pocket wifi we reserved online for the trip, which allow us to keep internet access on our mobile devices without paying the exorbitant international plans that our cell phone carriers offered. And we stopped by at one of the airport convenience stores, where Amy and Diana wasted no time in sampling small eats and snacks.

Tokyo Tower

We took the Skyliner train from the airport into the center of Tokyo and hopped on a JR train to get to the hotel. After getting freshened up, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a nearby fast food restaurant where I had sizzling beef served with rice.

Tokyo Tower was a mere 15 minute walk from our hotel.

We had planned on seeing the view from the top of the tower at the end of the first day. Unfortunately for us, a thick layer of fog was still shrouding the top of Tokyo Tower, and we had reservations for going up to the top deck.

Still, I was nice to walk up to the tower and marvel at it from outside. The tower is painted a bright orange color, and the warm lighting encircling the tower only made it look more orange, orange color spilling into the fog nearby.

On the middle observation decks, the view was actually quite nice. Everything that was underneath the fog was visible, and the city lights seemed to stretch on for eternity in all directions. On the upper most observation deck, all you could see, as expected, was grey.

Trip video for Day 1

I’m trying something new: putting together travel videos. This is all being done “quick and dirty” using just my iPhone and a gimbal. We’ll see if I can keep up the motivation to put out a blog post and a video every single day of the trip…