Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Japan: Day one

"The JR Yamanote line train speeds past Shinjuku station Tuesday, Jan.1, 2008. Some of the JR trains in Japan can reach over 150 mph."

Happy New Year. Although I had mine a day early. Don’t worry, it wasn’t anything exciting and I learned there is no special celebration for bringing in the New Year in Japan, unlike the United States.

Tuesday morning before heading out, I had a small breakfast from the lobby. I had a simple rice cake with tuna inside and a small egg sandwich. Then had to checkout of my room and check my luggage in the lobby because of some error.

Afterward, I took the Yamanote line train to Tokyo and walked around Tokyo station before meeting with Ugi, his son and friend Shingo. They agreed to take me around Tokyo for the day.

Ugi and his son spoke very little English. On the other hand, Shingo, 19, knew a lot more. He is also a college student, so I am not sure if that was why, however, it was still not very good. I can’t complain though, as my Japanese isn’t very good.

While I had a little paper dictionary, he carried an electronic dictionary in his back pocket. We got along very well, and it was intriguing answering his questions about the United States and myself.

As the day went on, they guided me through Asakusa, Harajuku, Shibuya and Shinjuku and also took me to a Shine and Temple.

Those two being the Sensoji Buddhist temple and Meiji Shrine. Basically people come to show their respect by visiting these two places on the New Year. They were packed with people; I mean packed. I felt like a sardine.

Around lunch, Ugi bought me another meal; this time Japanese noodles. It was very good. As mentioned previously, Japanese people are very nice, respectful and giving.

They later brought me back to my hotel around 5 p.m. I was glad to lie down for five minutes. The day was hectic and fast. Walking and riding the JR train all day drained me, not to mention my jet lag is starting to kick my butt. I must say, traveling around by train is very confusing, but I am getting the hang of it.

For now, I am thinking I am just going to relax tonight. I was going to walk around Shinjuku again, but I have to meet my next guide, Vivo, and his friend at 9 a.m. and I am exhausted.

More to come.


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