The Traveler's Journal

Adventures, tales, stories and vignettes by travel writer James Patton Jones

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Saturday the 7th of December 2019 | AM Edition Published by JRAC, Inc.
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Previous Articles:

Architecture in Columbia

To London via Train
A Bus to Stonehenge

A Flight to France
Normandy, Brittney and the Loire Valley
First Day in Paris
Walking Tours of Paris
Memories of Paris

Arrival in Tokyo
Subway Survival, Swords, Site-Seeing, and Sushi
A Week of Business Meetings, and Wonderful Food
Asakusa and Tokyo Tower
Mt. Fuji and Hakkone
Sony Building, Hibiya Park, Shopping

Memories of Mexico

Swiss Excursion, Part I
Swiss Excursion, Part II

Snow Camping in Yosemite

Going on an Adventure? For maps navigational accessories, The Traveler recommends:
The Rand McNally Store Shop Now!

Recommended Books:

Interested in non-travel writing by author James Patton Jones? Non-fiction books, technical books, and papers/articles

Arrival in Tokyo

The aircraft descended through the thick clouds, and glided to a smooth landing at Tokyo's Narita Airport. Upon exiting the plane, I was engulfed by a stampeed of people, all scurrying in the same general direction. I followed the herd. Guided by signs written in English, I first passed through passport control and then customs. So far, so good.

I was both surprised and amused by the way everyone wove in and out and around each other: thousands of people everywhere, randomly going their own direction, yet following unspoken rules of interaction that gave visable order to what otherwise would have been complete chaos.

My first order of business was to exchange some travelers cheques into local currency. $300 U.S. dollers generated about 36,000 Yen. (The Yen, often abbreviated to the symbol ¥, is the national monetary unit of Japan. Notes/bills exist in the 1000, 2000, 5000, and 10,000 demoninations. And a variety of coins exist too, ranging from 1 to 50 plus 100 and 500.) When I was handed my ¥36,000 all I could think was, "Wow! That seems like a whole lot of dough!" [For my international friends reading this, "dough" is an American English slang for "money".]

[Title: "Example of Japanese Currency and Coins"] 

Next, I found my way to ground transportation, and started looking for anything that might be a "limosine bus" as I had been instructed to do. Finding something that seemed close, I handed my previously prepared paper with hotel name to the clerk, and asked politely for a single (one-way) ticket. Without hesitation she typed a few key strokes, and up popped a price on the display: ¥3000. Outside, I found the busstop, and waited for the next bus, hoping that it was the right one.

Arriving at the Crown Plaza Metropolitian Hotel in Ikebukuro, I disembarked and was greeted by a cute Japanese gal dressed in a porter's uniform who asked me in English if I was checking into the hotel. "Hai" I responded (meaning "yes"), and then told her in English that I had two cases. She showed me to the registration desk, and then promply disappeared before I could ask her questions about the area. I checked in and was shown to my room by another porter. I took the opportunity to ask the porter a few questions about site-seeing, and he asked if he might go get some information for me. He returned with pamplets, a subway map, a local area map, as well as a Tokyo map. He was very friendly, and explained about particular sites, and shopping, and he recommended where I should go.

[Title: "My Room at the Crown Plaza Metropolitian Hotel"] 

It was a nice hotel room, larger than I expected, and larger than those in London, about the same size as the last one in Paris. The room had a double bed, desk and chair, table and chair, and a small refriderated self-serve bar (with room in the door for my own items). The bathroom had a tub and hand-shower, and a really amazing electronic toilet, with a control panel that Captain Kirk would have been proud of. Complete with a heated seat, when you sat down, water started running inside the toilet. (My tour book informed me that this feature is designed to make noise to hide any "embarassing sounds". The toilet has buttons that turn on/off an integrated bidet and separate "spray", for washing your backside. Amazing! Certainly want to be careful in the middle of the night-- don't want to accidently hit the wrong button!

[Title: "Electonic Toilet in Hotel Room"] 

Next I got settled into my room, showered, and unpacked my suitcase. I was now ready to go exploring. Tokyo doesn't feel as foreign as I had expected. In fact, it felt like any large city, just with signs I couldn't read. I walked around for a few hours, came across an African Arts Festival, complete with music and food. I looked at the wares there, then continued on my trek around town. I saw hundreds of Japanese, and only a couple of westerners.

[Title: "Ikebukuro Shops at Dusk"] 

Near the end of my trek, I was approached by a gal who asked in broken English if I were interested in a massage. It took a few moments to realize it wasn't a massage she was selling. I declined her offer (!) and retraced my steps back to my hotel.

More articles about Japan:
 Subway Survival, Swords, Site-Seeing, and Sushi
 A Week of Business Meetings, and Wonderful Food
 Asakusa and Tokyo Tower
 Mt. Fuji and Hakkone
 Sony Building, Hibiya Park, Shopping

Today's Travel Tip...

"My favorite travel agent is Teresa Davis of Davis Dream Vacations. For great travel deals and wonderful service, I suggest you visit her travel website."
--The Traveler

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