Friday, October 19, 2012

My Tokyo Trip: Part 1

Around a month ago my brother Jeff and I went to Toyko for a week.  It was soooo fun!  Here is the blog post about our adventure:

We got the the airport in Houston at a crazy early hour on a Tuesday morning.  We flew to Dallas then from Dallas to Tokyo.  The flight way a waaay long 13 hours, but in all honestly it wasn't that bad.  I had irrational fears of claustrophobia, and disgusting bathroom situations, and mind numbing boredom.  We flew on American Airlines, and they were pretty great.  Since the flight was international we all got our own TVs and could watch a big selection of movies and TV shows, listen to music, and see a flight path of where in the world/sky our plane was.  So we were occupied, and surprisingly well fed the entire way there.  The time difference was crazy though - we got there at what felt like midnight in Houston, and it was 3pm in the afternoon in Japan.  But like we would let jet lag stop us!

So we took an hour long train to get to the correct train station that would get us to our hotel.  Which at this point was rush hour.  I don't advise trying to get somewhere during rush hour on day 1.  We are rolling our weeks worth of luggage through a HUGE train station while literally thousands of Japanese business people are running by us.  It was the strangest thing, being packed like a sardine while people are running around you.  I wasn't a fan, and was feeling like a panic attack was about to come on.  Thank God for Jeff and his tireless research of the train system and maps, once we got out of the station and out into the world, we got to our hotel with no problem.  It was a stone's throw from the station, and very easy to find - especially when our bodies felt like it was 2-3 in the am! 

We stayed at the Shinjuku Price Hotel

Prince hotels are equivalent to a Marriott or Hilton chain in the USA.  Our room was nice, but very small.  It reminded me of a room on the cruise boat.  Japan is pretty expensive and extremely crowded, so it is just part of the way of life that space is tight.  But it was fine enough, we had all the space we needed.  Our hotel/Shinjuku was right on the border of the red light district, but let me tell you, you couldn't much tell.  I felt totally safe everywhere we went, even late at night.  And the train station is one of the biggest in town, so it had all the lines that went to just about everywhere we wanted to go with ease.  I would have no qualms staying in this area with some girlfriends, or even kids.  The whole city in general is very clean and nice, so it was humorous to me that their scandalous district was equivalent to not a big deal.  They should see the neighborhood where my office is!  Now that is scary...

But anyway, we got out of the station and it was already dark outside - like 6pm?  It was sensory overload!  Picture Times Square in NYC, only it isn't just a few blocks, it is everywhere!  Buildings were all lit up like crazy, giant TV screens were blasting, and everyone was just hanging out outside.  Probably because no one wants to be at home in their cramped little space, I am sure...


View from our hotel, thank goodness for blackout shades!!

Once we got to the hotel we were so tired we thought we would die, so we just fell asleep instantly.  Twelve or so hours later, we were ready to hit Disney! 
Time is weird here.  It gets dark so much earlier than I am used to in Houston (5:30/6 in Tokyo vs 7:30/8 in Houston) and on the flip side, the sun is out - when I would wake up at like 5am.  Mornings soon became my favorite because my system wants to wake me up with the sun, so I am up and ready to go conquer the day and it looks like a ghost town outside!  The Japanese must be fans of sleeping in because every day we were there, we'd be out of the hotel by 7 or 8 and no one was around!  Nothing even opens until around 9 or 10, so we got to walk around in a peaceful environment without crowds and people rushing.  Another funny thing we saw were these Japanese business people sleeping on the street!  They aren't homeless, they just missed the last train out of the station and it is perfectly safe to use your briefcase as a pillow and sleep on a bench for the night.  No one will mess with you.  I wish we'd have known, we could have saved big on hotels!  Only kidding.  But little things like that were so crazy/cool to me about how different living on the other side of the world can be in such unexpected ways.
So anyway, we went to Tokyo Disney on Thursday.  Yeah, it is Thursday already because we left Tuesday and traveled the entire day, and got in Wednesday night.  You lose so much time in the traveling, which is sad.  The park was all Halloween themed, so that was fun and autunmy even though it was pretty warm and humid that day.  I have been to Disney World in Orlando, FL twice in my life, when I was 15 years old, so my memory on the place is not super clear anymore, but the Florida one seemed much more like the ''magical Disney" experience, while Tokyo Disney just seemed like a cutesy version of Six Flags.  They did have a legit Space Mountain though, so that was good enough for me!

So crowded, like it is everywhere

Cinderella Castle and Band

Another thing that I found quite funny was the Japanese people's enthusiasm for Disney things.  You know those giant hats that are like Goofy's face, or Mickey's Fantasia wizard hat?  People were buying those like they were going out of style!  People my age!  I personally wouldn't be caught dead with a giant crazy hat like that, and I almost at times felt silly because I was the only one who didn't have one!  AND there were a whole bunch of people dressed up like Disney characters!  Maybe because it was Halloween?  But I would only expect that from park employees and little girls under the age of 8 in the US.  I am talking about full grown adults.  So weird!  And what I didn't see much of at all were actual Disney characters/park employees around for photo ops.  I take that back, we saw someone I don't remember, maybe Donald Duck? in the kids area, and when we were leaving I saw an Asian Pocahontas looking like she was going back to the headquarters because her shift ended.  Had I been there with kiddos, I probably would have been a little disappointed, but alas, I had a good time anyway.

These people don't work here.

Cooling off with a Mickey pop

Space Mountain!  Yay!
After we left Disney we had to go back to the hotel for naps, the jet lag was catching up with us!


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