Japan Day 1 – Arrival, Shinjuku Hotel

Photo set from today

Oh man…what a gauntlet!

So today marks the first day of my long-awaited trip to Tokyo, Japan. Granted, this post is actually going to cover more than one day because I departed at around 1 AM on the 3rd, but to me it all counts as one day, and -seems- like one day because I haven’t slept in an actual bed yet, you know? (just been sleeping on planes…)

This is actually my very first time doing international travel (hopping across the border into Canada doesn’t really count…), so I have to admit I was a little intimidated and worried about all the procedures and such that you have to go through. It ended up being just fine though, and though I made one or two minor mistakes, those were more of a “whoops, slipped my mind” rather than me actually doing something wrong.

We were off to a pretty good start…even at SFO I had already spotted my first Hello Kitty items…

 

Didn’t buy any, of course, but I still considered it sort of a sign of good things to come. I saw a little girl on our flight that had a Hello Kitty suitcase too…so cute!

It’s just me and my mother on this trip, which I guess…works. I’m not sure whether I’d be more or less stressed if I was traveling alone…on the one hand, I guess it’s nice to not be totally by yourself, but on the other hand, I think it stresses me out more when I’m under pressure to do things at a pace that is different than what I’m comfortable with.

Here’s my attempt at the outstretched-arm photo technique…

 

Overall the flights weren’t really too bad at all. It was kind of weird and awkward trying to find a good sleeping position, but somehow I managed to work it out, although one time I made my wrist pretty sore by resting my head on my hand. I didn’t get airsick or anything (I generally don’t), but there was one slightly disconcerting moment where I was getting a weird pain around my right eye during landing, but that faded away so I’m going to dismiss it as a weird freak fluke. The airline food was…not bad, for the most part. We had a lot more flying than you might expect because we did it as a round-trip flight to hong kong and then a round-trip flight from hk to japan within that, so we actually flew -past- japan into hk, then flew -back- to japan. Yeah…really not the most efficient way of travel, but somehow that’s how the package worked out…

Anyhow, what did I do with all that flight time? I played through a good portion of Thomas Was Alone (which I finished downloading only a little bit before boarding time using the airport wifi), which has been really excellent so far. Started making an LSDJ song using my NDS…it’s nowhere near complete (LSDJ songs take =forever=…) but at least it’s progress? Read through the beginning of the Strawberry Panic! light novels during the times when we couldn’t use electronic devices…listened to the Brave Soundtrack because BRAVE IS AWESOME (yes, still going on about that).

 

Getting my first glimpse of the actual country was pretty interesting…as we headed from airport to hotel, it turned from mostly green grass like the scene above, to skyscrapers with a lot more of a “city” feel.

 

This place has an interesting “color” to it. It’s like the bustle and “busyness” of a place like chinatown, only everything is ridiculously orderly and everyone is respectful. It still clashes with my eternal home climate of peaceful suburb, but it’s…interesting. I think I’m starting to make sense of how the “atmosphere” works, but I don’t know if I can put my finger on it exactly. Everything is very systematic, which is nice, and it means that there’s nothing that’s chaotic and unorderly, but that also means I’m afraid to go in and mess up the system because I’m an ignorant gaijin.

I figured out pretty quickly, though, that people walk on the left side of the sidewalk here, as a rule, as opposed to back home where some people will kind of naturally walk on the right but there really ain’t much of a conscious thought in it. I felt kind of bad when I realized that I was walking on the wrong side, but then felt good for being able to pick it out so quickly.

Our hotel room is nothing fancy–small, compact (saving my funds for the inevitable storm of cute things), but it’ll have to do as my home base for the next week or so. I’m going to make it a point to be blogging as I go, just because it’s easier that way, and because I think I’m going to need a lot of time to “recharge” and blogging is a great way to do that.

 

To put it frankly, I’m intimidated to no end by being in a foreign country where they speak a different native language–forget the fact that I know it in a rudimentary sense. It totally throws me out of my comfort zone, and if you know me, you’ll know that I’m all about the ISFJ way of living, which means staying firmly inside my own comfort bubble, and finding ways to expand that slowly in order to explore new possibilities. So interacting with people in this sort of manner is really taxing on me. I guess on the plus side, a lot of what I have scheduled is just sightseeing on my/our own and shopping, which I think won’t be -too- bad…(right?)…

 
Uhh…what do I do now…?

Ordering food for the first time was super stressful…I basically ordered two things with a “this. and this.”, and was sort of flustered when the waitress asked me whether I wanted shio or shoyu (though I actually did understand what she was asking), and when she asked me a different question that I think was about the meat in it (though I didn’t really quite understand). There was also some confusion when I tried to order some hot water, but I got through in the end (no, I didn’t have to resort to saying “atsui mizu”).

So yes, even though I was midly successful at that, the introvert in me is still in total freakout mode, which isn’t helped by the fact that my mother keeps on asking people for info and directions in english (not an invalid strategy, but it puts the introvert in me more on edge) and how I’m not really going at my own pace. I guess this is why my sister-in-law suggested scheduling some alone-time into the agenda…

To make matters worse, we’re having issues with banking, which is kind of piling onto the mental exhaustion here. Gheh. On the plus side, tomorrow all we have scheduled is a bus tour, so I won’t have to worry about too much (and it’ll be English too). Really looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep tonight…I really need it!

=====

Edit:

Some things I forgot…

My sleep schedule actually…seems to somehow have calibrated itself to “normal human” time in this time zone, maybe by sheer luck. It’s 10PM here and I’m quite tired (understably so) and so I’m just going to play a little more Thomas Was Alone (give myself something good to fall asleep on) and then call it a night.

Weather has been pretty mild/nice. Course, I was on a plane for most of the day, so maybe it’s hotter than I think. But the evening weather was not bad at all!

We’ll see how things go with my mother. I think we just do things at completely different paces, so it’s just really unnerving for me sometimes. For instance, all throughout the airport and flights and such she was always having to do this or that–retie her shoelaces or move things around in her bag or take this out and oh she needs this, blahblah, where I’m just focused on streamlining it as much as possible and being super-efficient and ready for anything. On the other hand, when it comes to exploring our surroundings, I’m super-conservative and I want to just look up things from our hotel room, wander around a bit, try and make sense of my environment, whereas she will just ask people right away (and then I get dragged into it…). Interestingly enough, it hardly ever seems like she’s bothered by my pacing…it’s just I’m bothered by hers.

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