Note: Sorry for the delay on getting this post live and the lack of photos. We’re having a bit of trouble getting online in Japan. More to follow once we get set…
Konnichiwa from Japan! Brooke and I have completed the journey from Auckland, New Zealand to Tokyo, Japan trading in a quiet pacific island nation for a much busier pacific island nation. Our two flights on China Southern (11 hours from Auckland to Guangzhou and then another 4 from Guangzhou to Tokyo) were easy going, luxurious and comfortable. We embraced the opportunity to spend some quality time in the China Southern First Class Lounges in both airports. Man, that lounge in Guangzhou is like traveler’s Shangri La. Private shower room? Yes, please. Sure, we may be making our way through each country in hostels and shared bathrooms while on the ground, but we’re living in the lap of luxury and doing it in style while we’re flying on this SkyMiles reward business class ticket.
We did face a small roadblock when we were told that only one carry on bag would be allowed while flying out of Auckland per the airport’s universal best practice. Completely new info. Part of our whole packing structure was based on the plan to never have to check a single bag, so that went out the window. No harm done – our bags arrived safely in Japan. Landing at Narita International Airport, we sailed through customs and immigration. In fact, aside from an episode regarding Beef Jerky confiscation (seriously), we haven’t had a single issue or question while arriving in any country so far. Fingers crossed that keeps up.
To make our arrival even sweeter, we were greeted by Brooke’s second cousin the minute we walked out of customs. Gaye has lived in Japan for twenty-five years teaching English at Camp Zama – a U.S. Army base just outside of Tokyo in Sagamihara City. She’s been an informative, excited, local guide who has already provided a wealth of information (probably more than we can remember!) on life in Japan, the military base and even the language. For example, “Don’t touch my moustache” is a helpful way to remember the phrase for “You’re welcome.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Gaye, who Brooke hasn’t seen in over two decades, has been kind enough to let us stay at her place on base in Tokyo while we’re here. What an amazing re source we’re lucky to have! We even found a welcome gift bag on our bed that included, among other things, Asparagus Cookies.
Earlier tonight, we took the long but scenic bus ride on the Camp Zama shuttle from Narita to the base passing through Tokyo and Yokohama which saved us some cash. Gaye pointed out the sites, told stories about last year’s giant earthquake and gave us the rundown of life in Japan. We got our first taste for how large and populated the area is. curiously enough, we saw two (and possibly three) gargantuan Ferris wheels driving through town. We’re back to being in a hot climate which gives us a chance to break out the shorts. We must concede that we are a little overwhelmed upon arriving in a truly foreign country.We’ve been attempting to digest complicated, involved looking train maps, reviewing our options for what to explore and absorbing the sites, sounds, language and more. Whew! The first eight hours in Japan have been quite the immersion!
So, now on to the second leg of our trip, the itinerary tells us that we have nine days to explore, discover and immerse ourselves in Japan. We’ve got our money belts loaded and locked on us, our JR Rail Pass ready to be cashed in and eager to burst out and explore this new land. In short, ready to get our Nippon on!