Japan Trip 2015 - January Part 1

2015/01/24-25 Going to Japan

To the airport

Left home at 5:00am, I was a little tired from staying up all night but should be manageable because of the very light traffic. I loaded my bags in my car, drove to nearby interstate then set the cruise control and kept going without stepping my foot on brake until I get off from the toll road.
Arrived at off site parking at 5:25am to park my car. There were few people getting on the shuttle van to the terminal, a unique one was a father and son carrying rifles to go hunt in Africa. I got picked up by the van at 5:27am, my drop off to terminal E was the last so I reached the terminal building at 5:50am. I gave my bags to kiosk attendant, paid $100 for the second bag, then I picked up my tickets and proceeded to the security screening. The line was practically nothing so I crossed to the other side in 5 min then I began walking towards the gate.

From Houston to Los Angeles: UA1169 IAH(7:20am CST) - LAX(9:19am PST)

I arrived at gate E8 at 6:05am, in here also, there weren't many people so it was easy to find a bench with no one else. The boarding started on time, and I get on the plane at 6:50am, waited for the boarding to complete as  the outside is getting brighter. The plane was pushed back from the gate at 7:15am, then began taxing. It took off to the south and turned right to change heading toward LAX. I was able to sleep time to time because the air was smooth. I woke up as the plane flew over Phoenix, AZ and soon the plane began preparing for the landing. The plane approached from east as usual, looking at the downtown Los Angeles syscrapers to the north and landed at 8:37am PST. The plane taxied to the gate for 5 minutes. I got out at 8:50am.

Took seat

Pushed back


Making a turn

IAH airport

Phoenix, AZ

From Los Angeles to Narita: UA32 LAX(11:05am PST) - NRT(4:05pm on 1/25 JST)

Waiting for the connection near the gate, it's nice to have a newer iPhone since it has a lot more juice than the previous models. It was easy to kill time, checking on Facebook and news on the net. The boarding began on time at 10:15am and I got my seat at 10:24am. The plane got ready to go and was pushed back at 11:10am. The plane taxied to the east end and took off to west at ? and followed along the coast line, finally leaving coast at 12:00pm. Over the flight, Watched two movies one was "the Guardians of the Galaxy", and another was Cape Nostalgia (不思議な岬の物語). I ate chicken for lunch, then took things easy. There is an old lady at isle seat who looks like a Japanese but not speaking at all. I fell sleep then woke up at 3 hours to go, flying about1,500mi east of kamchatsky, soon the plane was flying by east of Sendai, 50min to go. At 2:30pm just, the plane began to slow down and at 2:50pm the descending started. The plane flew to west to the shore then changed heading to north by flying by Kashima, then later turned left to change heading to south for landing. I saw a Skyliner running on a rail track as the plane get closer to the airport. The plane landed at ?. The old lady sitting at isle seat by me was not feeling so I had to attend for her while waiting for a CA to come. I ended up being one of the last passenger to get out. Walked to passport control, picked up my bags, which I forgot to mark properly so I did not catch that until a staff was calling my name. Passed the customs and got out from the security area. At 3:55pm at exchange to change $400 in Japanese Yen.



Landed at Narita

Getting off from the plane


Arriving to Tokyo, Dinner with friends

Bought a Keisei Skyliner ticket to Ueno station at counter around 4:10pm. In the last year, I missed to ride one because of a big snow. The train was already at the platform when I get to the downstairs. When I get on the Skyliner 34 leaving Narita Airport at 4:18pm, the air conditioning inside the car was not turned on, a typical Japanese style. I used the previous train back in 2004, and it took more than 1 hour but now it takes half of it. The train left the station on time, the first phase after leaving the airport is the farm field and then moved toward more populated regions. I could see the Tokyo Skytree in twilight. I guess the outside may not totally dark yet when I get to Ueno. Arrived at Ueno at 5:03pm on time after the train stopped at Nippori. Stepping out from the station, and there is a moon in the hazy sky as I walked to the hotel, it must have been a quite warm day because I felt warm. The hotel I reserved had a discounted price for people check in after 5:00pm, so I guess I am on the right track, checked in at 5:10pm, took shower and relaxed.
Left the hotel room around 6:30pm to catch a train, arrived at Hamamatsu Cho and began walking toward a restaurant. Had good time with 7 other friends, drinking 5 bottles of beer, and may be 3 bottles of Japanese sake. Left on a train leaving at 10:27pm, back at Ueno station 10:41pm. Came back to the hotel, went to bed at 11:30pm.


2015/01/26: A day in Tokyo

Morning Jog, Walking Around

Woke up at 3:00am once then 6:00am it was not so cold day, about 6C as reported in the news. Stretched my body, gear up and walked to Ueno station. Bought an area pass so I can move around all day. Took a train to Tokyo and went for a run around Kokyo at 7:00am. It was a cloudy day but at least not snowing like last year. I made one lap then began walking back to Tokyo station, going against the folks wearing suits and in hurry. Took a train back to Ueno, which had to halt departure to adjust the schedule from an accident nearby. Came back to the room at 8:10am, took shower, had breakfast which I bought from a nearby convenience store last night


Kokyo Run

Left hotel at 9:00am and walked to Ueno station. I passed the gate and went downstairs to stopby platform 13-15, Took pictures of two night trains; Cassiopeia and Hokutosei. Many people around to take pictures like I do. Those trains are expected to finish the service by March. Because of the change in configuration inside the tunnel connecting main island and Hokkaido island. After the photo session, I walked away from the underground level and get on a train in Keihintohoku line at 10:20am. I have a couple of appoint today and expected to leave from Tokyo on Shinkansen, so I Put my bag at Tokyo station's coin locker then began walking around.



Lunch, Late Afternoon Drink

If the weather was good, I would go to Tokyo Skytree to take a look at the view of Tokyo, but today may not be that good, the weather information reporting of possible rain. I did not have much time reading the tour guide book so I had no particular plan. No good. However, I was interested in checking out Japanese gardens so I took a train to Shinbashi, then walked to east to Hamarikyu Onshi Garden. It was too early to see flowers brooming but I took a walk around the place. The place is facing Tokyo Bay, so the design of the garden includes the tide of the bay. I walked around and made a round, they had a practice location for horseride, a trap for waterbirds, and a big pine tree. I exited the park then went to another one by going south toward Hamamatsu Cho. This garden is smaller, called Shibarikyu Onshi Garden. It was nice short walk then I moved to Hamamatsu Cho station to take a train back at 1:00pm to meet my friend, I met with my friend from college at a restaurant and stayed until 3:00pm. After that, I met with another friend from my former employment. Had meals until 5:00pm while chatting. I did not have to pay again. Good.

Hamarikyu Onshi Teien

Shibarikyu Onshi Teien



Returning to Nagoya

I took a train leaving at 5:24pm to Yurakucho, walked in Ginza to find Kimuraya to buy the original sweet red bean paste bread. I bought several of them and walked back to the station. Back at Tokyo at 5:52pm, bought ticket to Nagoya for 10,360yen, picked up bag and proceeded to the gate at 6:00pm.When I walked up to the platform, there are two express trains waiting for departure. One leaving at 6:10pm, this may already be full so I got on nozomi 249 which is leaving Tokyo at 6:20pm. I took an non-reserved seat, and realized there are a few minutes left. I made a ran to grab water at a vending machine before the train began moving on time. It was already dark so I am not sure how far I go, in some occasion, I can see the train is passing a station and the car's information display indicate where the train is. The train stopped at Shinagawa, Shinyokohama, traveling in the night sky, Passing Kakegawa station around 7:40pm where the rain started to show up on the windows. Passing Toyohashi, Mikawaanjo and slowing down to make a stop at Nagoya at 8:01pm on time.


After getting off the train, I decided to eat Kishimen noodles for 620 Yen. A quick meal filled my empty stomach. Walked off from the station and get on a subway train at 8:18pm, for a short ride to the station nearby my house. Inside was not so packed. It's a Monday evening anyways. The person like me without a job in Japan is a minority here... When I get to the ground level, it was raining steady. Getting on a bus leaving at 8:51pm. I had my both hands occupied so I walked and got wet after arriving to a bus stop nearby my house. At home by 9:00pm, took shower and hit the bed around 11:00pm. It's nice to be at home.

2015/01/27: At home in Nagoya

In the morning

Woke up at 4:30am, got up from bed at 6:00am. Stretched my body and get ready for the day. Had breakfast with my brother's family, did a load of laundry.
Took my nephew to child care after the breakfast, then I walked back home. My dad let me borrow a key to the house so I can go in and out anytime.

At Sakae

I finished a load of laundry and hang them at the back of the house for drying, left home at 9:30am. I walked to a post office to send out a mail to my friend then catch a bus to a subway station from nearby bus stop at 9:40am. It was a short ride which took less than 10 minutes. I bought a one-day pass for 850yen. I get on a train to Fushimi, then first I stopped by at a bank 10:00am for paperwork, then I needed to cash several checks so I had to go to another bank at 10:45am, waited 15 minutes for the process before going to another bank at Sakae which I walked in 10 minutes. This time I had to wait for 20 minutes. Finally done with the things I need to take care of today, left Sakae at 11:35am, called my aunt to let them know that I am arriving late.

Visiting My Uncle and Aunt

Nanachan, and Dai Nagoya Building under construction.

Getting on a subway to Hisaya Odori station at 11:39am, a short one minute ride then switch to Sakuradori line. Connecting at 11:46am and arrived at Aioi station a little later than noon. To get to my aunt's house, I had to walk for a while. I noticed there has been a lot of changes in surroundings, too. Had lunch and chat with them until 3:00pm, then walked back to the nearby station. I caught a train leaving at 3:24pm back to Nagoya station. I needed to buy train tickets for tomorrow, so I stopped by at Midorino Madoguchi at JR station. Left Nagoya at 4:25pm and arrive at a station near home at 4:45pm. Took a bus leaving at 4:53pm, Before coming home, I walked to a bike shop, DIY store and the post office at last but it was after 5:30pm so the door was locked. Came home at 6:00pm, had dinner with dad and brother's family around 7:00pm. Took shower, went to bed at 10:30pm after finish packing for the trip tomorrow..

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