Thursday, March 06, 2014

Japan Business Trip 2014: Getting Around

When we arrived at Narita Airport, we basically were still not entirely sure how to get from there to Shinjuku. We could have taken the bus or airport limousine, but in the end we still opted for the Narita Express, which is basically a train. We also got ourselves the Suica card, which is basically something like the Touch n Go card, you can reload any amount into the card and use it on trains and vending machines around Tokyo.

Being a train that specializes in going between the airport and Tokyo, the train naturally has designated space for our big luggage. It also has screens with information and status of all the train lines in Tokyo. Apparently the day before our arrival it had been snowing quite heavily in Tokyo and many of the train lines were closed.

Tough luck on the Tokyo-ites, luckily the Yamanote Line that we needed to get between the hotel and the office we were visiting was functioning properly.

Below here is the picture of Gotanda Station at some time between 3 to 4pm, we were headed to our Shinkansen transit at Tokyo Station, it is not rush hour.

I am proud to say that I have experienced rush hour on the Yamanote Line, which is basically the main train line around Tokyo. It really is not a pleasant experience. Those video you see, where people are packed like sardine, where there are 'pushman' pushing more people into already full train carriages, it is true. You really can put your hands on hot Japanese chicks' butts and squeeze at your own pleasure without her being able to do anything do not need to hold on to any handles or rails because there are no space between people so even if the train ride is bumpy, you will not fall down.

I am also proud to mention that I have experienced Japan's bullet train, also known as the Shinkansen. Actually I had to, we need to visit a factory in Fukushima and the bullet train is the fastest way to get there. It is quite expensive though, a one way ticket from Tokyo to Fukushima cost 8190 yen (US$90-ish), the distance is about 200km.

First time I try to do what I originally bought the Nikon P520 for: a selfie. I'm not good at it, need to learn how to do it without revealing my double chin >.<

Here comes the bullet train...

When you are inside the train moving, you actually don't feel that it is going at high speed. But rest assured, it really is. We made 5 stops over the 200km-ish journey and arrived just slightly after 1 hour.

When we arrived at Narita, we did not spend much time checking that airport out. But our return flight was through Haneda airport, which is located in downtown Tokyo rather than at the outskirts in Chiba, and the flight was midnight, so we arrived with plenty of time to spare.

This is the first airport that I have been to that has an outdoor observation deck. To be honest, actually, I never really checked out other airports that I have been to anyway, LOL.

But although we arrived relatively early, it was still late at night, almost all the shops in the airport closed within an hour of us arriving. Nothing much to do other than have a quick supper and then wait for our flight home.

Japan Business Trip 2014: Hotel

Being new and unfamiliar in Japan, not to mention having a huge language barrier, we stayed in hotels right next to the train stations.

In Tokyo, we stayed in Century Southern Tower Hotel, right next to Shinjuku Station, the biggest and busiest train station hub in Japan. The hotel was overbooked, instead of single room, we had to take the deluxe double room, the room rate was a whopping 29600 yen, or US$300-ish a night. We learned later that we came to Tokyo at a bad time, it was the week of the universities' entrance exam, most of the high school grads around Japan flock into Tokyo.

This Southern Tower is kind of interesting though. The entire building is 35 floors tall. The first 4 floors are shops, 5th to 18th floor are office floors, 19th and 20th the hotel lobby and restaurants, and 21st onwards are hotel rooms.

Overlooking the Shinjuku Station, lobby view

 Overlooking Times Square/Takashimaya, room view

For some reason I forgot to take photos of the hotel room...

We stayed in the Richmondo Hotel in Fukushima, right next to the Shinkansen station (bullet train). Being out of Tokyo, we were able to get single rooms, and the rate here is much cheaper, 9600 yen a night, or US$100-ish. I suspect that hotel in Tokyo, even with single room, the rate won't be this.

I do have some photos of the room here.

Door magnets

This is what a single room in Japan looks like.

The toilet bowl comes with an interesting gadget. It keeps the seat warm, and has 2 water spraying mode to help you clean your ass after doing big business. I wonder why the American hotels do not come with this convenience.

Conclusion: Accommodation in Tokyo is freaking expensive!