Japan Trip 2014 - February (Part 3- Tokyo) (last updated on 2014/10/12)

2014/2/8 In Tokyo (High 4.0C, Low -0.9C, 22cm Snow)

Kokyo Run in the morning

Woke up at 5:00am at the hotel room, felt cold, the outside began to snow so no wonder. The news on TV was reporting that we are likely to get heavy snow, up to 20 cm today. Stepped out from the hotel at 6:50am and took a train to Tokyo station for Kokyo Run, which was a part of my plan for the trip. Exited from west exit. It was snowing and some parts are already covered in white. There were very a few people running today. Since I did not know the route well, I decided to follow a guy who was running ahead but looks like he had another thought so I just kept going counter clockwise, along Uchibori Dori. It was fun. Took a train back to the hotel.

Not many people running, and already snow covered...


Meiji Shrine, Omote Sando Walk, Ginza stops.

After coming back to the hotel, I took a hot shower and get changed. Ate breakfast then stepped out again after leaving the key at the front for the day.

My breakfast.

Taking Yamanote Line

I took Yamanote Line from Ueno to Harajuku in counterclockwise. I can see the snow was falling pretty hard but no delays yet. (I hope the weather holds good, keeping my fingers crossed) Once arrived at Harajuku, I now need to use an umbrella. Walking in the Shrine property from the front entrance to the shrine, walking around the back yard then to a garden. When I finish,

Entrance The pathway is snow covered Torii Torri  
  Ema Snow covered   Kiyomori

Tour buses parked, meaning the tours must go on...

Met up with my friend there and we began walking on Omotesando street under snow, he wanted to take me to Omotesando Hills, a newly opened shopping mall. We ate vegetable meals at a restaurant there, walking back towards the station while swinging by MoMA in Tokyo and Takeshita street. It was already hard to walk condition with snow. Took a train to Yurakucho, checked out Wako and Kimuraya where the famous "Anpan" a sweet red bean paste bread. Bid farewell to my friend and I took train back to Ueno station.

Omote Sando Hills Vegetable Dish at Kyo Oyasai-Bar Mei(京 お野菜バル めい)

MoMA in Tokyo


Takeshita Street

Dinner with my friend

Left the hotel around 5:00pm to go to Ikebukuro to meet with my friend. I arrived there after 5:45pm and found my friend near one of the entrances for the station. We had dinner at a Korean restaurant, catching up the time since last November. The restaurant had to be closed at 7:00pm due to bad weather. Got a ride to Nishi-Nippori and bid a farewell. Come back to Ueno station which is snow covered and I do not see snow plowing crew anymore. Come back to the hotel around 8:30pm, went to bed around 10:00pm.
Someone left a snowman by public phone
Snow, snow everywhere

2014/2/9 Coming back to the U.S. (High 9.2C, Low 1.1C)

In the morning

Again, it's another cold day and I woke up at 4:00am. I guess I keep losing the blanket while I am asleep in Japanese sized futon bed. I got up at 5:00am and ready for the day. I was checking the weather news on TV, very much all the tollroads, most of trains except in metropolitan area are not operating. I have to go to the airport today but how? I checked out from the hotel around 9:00am and stepped out toward to Ueno station with all of my bags. The first thing I did was to drop off my bags in a locker then walked to Keisei electric railway station to check out the operation status. At Ueno station, I saw about 400 people waiting for the train operation to start which was suspended since the morning. Even the ticket vending is halted. I began checking web on my smart phone, which already exceeded the maximum of data roaming but I needed the information anyway. Later I decided to monitor the situation as the time passed. I also checked into the other transportation methods but they were all not good. No JR line can get to the airport, or any express bus services because of the closure of toll road. I decided to take a walk at Ueno park while I wait for the update, being optimistic about the service will return in operation in the afternoon.
My breakfast

At Keisei Ueno Station, No train is running Starbucks at Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Decided to walk around the Ueno park

Ueno Park
Takamori Saigo
Dr. Hideo Noguchi

Botan En

To Airport Ueno - Narita Airport (Keisei Tokkyu Skyliner #33) 14:00-14:43

The train began moving around 1:45pm, the first train carrying passengers to the airport left around 2:00pm. Then they have no inbound train for a while. They also announced that they have no plan on running Skyliner Another train came
Left Ueno at 2:55pm with full of people. The train made stops between Ueno and Takasago to pick up people but very a few can get in. The train then made a few more stops while maintaining the same condition. Finally arrived at narita airport station at 4:55pm, my 30 minutes ride became a 2 hours ride. Took out my passport for the security checked at the station exit then proceeded to the check in via escalator. There's been so many people moving around me, as well as people who are waiting to get out from the airport.
I reached to the 4th floor of the terminal and picked up my bag which I sent from Nagoya. I repack some items then walked to check in at United Airlines. The agent told me that my flight will likely be cancelled. So, they got me a different flight which is departing at 6:30pm but was originally scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. I think all the flights are in mess today.

To Los Angeles: UA33 NRT(6:15pm JST)- LAX(11:00am PST) (Changed to UA1754: 1:25pm (5:30pm) - 6:43am) (Done)

Since I had only 30 minutes before the gate closure, I had to rush thru the passport check. However, I did not forget buying green tea flavor Kit Kat and also a Japanese Whisky at duty free shop. When I get there 10 minutes to the gate close, there was no plane. Asked people around who is waiting for the same flight, found out that crews are also waiting for the plane. The gate was changed later and we all moved to fate 34 at 6:15pm, meaning that 6:30pm departure is now 7:45pm. The plane was soon towed to the gate. The boarding began at 7:30pm and prepared for the flight. The plane departed from the gate, taxied for a while and took off at 8:20pm, soon I fell sleep. Good to know that I can now go back home. The dinner was served at 10:00pm, then I fall back to sleep again. Next time when I wake up was at 4:30am (JST), and have two more hours to go before arriving to Los Angeles. The plane was flying at 39,000ft at -57C, the ground speed was at 621mph with 60mph tailwind. Later the plane rose to 41,000ft to gain 100mph tail wind. At 12:55pm, the plane began initial descent. We flew east, on the north of Los Angeles and turned right to head west toward the airport. Landed at 1:30pm, and taxied to the gate. One get out from the plane, I proceeded to the immigration, since I was in the economy plus, there weren't many people waiting in front of me. Picking up the baggage and passed the customs, they were curious about what kind of food I was bringing but since they were dried,

To Houston: UA1168 LAX(2:59pm PST) - IAH(8:10pm CST)

I went thru screening and made it to the gate at 2:30pm. The lines were already formed so I lined up myself behind group 3. I wish I could keep the privilege. It was another full flight and the plane was pushed back at 3:00pm. Taxied to the east side of the airport then took off. I fell sleep but woke up 2 hours into the flight because the air got turbulent. The initial descent started around 7:20pm in CST with 100 miles to go. The plane was flying over the cloud so I could not see where the plane was flying until very last moment. The plane landed in Houston at 8:00pm, taxied to the gate. I am back.



Sun is setting

Arriving to Houston

To Home (Done)

Walked to the baggage claim and retrieved my belongings then proceeded to the exit. Left airport at 8:30pm on a shuttle van to the parking. The van was mostly filled with passengers coming back to Houston, and everybody seems to be happy about their trips. The van arrived at the parking in 15 minutes and I picked up the car which was (finally) washed and waxed. Loaded my bags then began driving home. It's been a little while since I drove and needed to be careful not to drive on the wrong side. Drove under cloudy night sky with some rain coming down. Bought groceries before reaching the home. At home, powered up the modem and began using internet and also unpacking. Went to bed around 1:00am but could not sleep at all.


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