Monday, November 05, 2012

Tokyo '12, Day 2 – The Narita Express and Shinjuku

After a little while we were allowed to unbuckle and get our things. All the Japanese who had been sleeping all the way were suddenly wide awake and immediately ready to go! XD Everyone lined up and when the doors opened everyone started moving. Someone was nice enough to let me go first, so I could join my dad. I lay down on the floor to look under the seats, so I could make absolutely sure we didn’t forget anything. Then we left the plane, walked through the hall and arrived in another hall. We took some pictures of the plane through the windows. The weather was super nice and sunny. ^^

Bye plane!
Goodbye plane, hello Narita Airport!

Before we walked on my dad and I advised my mom to take off her vest, because we remembered how hot the immigration hall had been last year.
We went on our way and my dad and I noticed how much more crowded the halls were we could see through the windows. Last year the airport had been deserted! We walked through the same hall as last year, with the shortest and most useless moving sidewalk ever. XD

Mom at Narita Airport
My mom told me that, while she was walking there, all she could think was: ‘I’m walking in Japan. I am IN JAPAN!’

After a little more walking we arrived at the immigration hall, where it was very crowded! Last year we barely had to stand in line, now we spent about 20 minutes there.

The intimidating immigration hall. So many more people this time!

We immediately got confronted with Japan’s interesting ‘creating jobs’ system (this will probably return in my stories XD): there were three staff members standing in different places in the line, checking people’s forms. Three! That fascinated me, but to be honest it wasn’t superfluous after all: so many people forgot to fill in things. How hard is it to fill in where you will be staying? -_- Oh well, at least we did it right.
Then it was our turn. I walked up to a man with a (typical) mouth mask behind a desk. He checked my passport, my forms and I had to press my index fingers on scanners. Then my picture was taken. It was strange to look at a colourful, flowery screen in a grey, official hall. XD We all went through the gates and took an escalator down to get our suitcases. It didn’t take long before they arrived (happy me!) and we put them on a cart. We went to stand in line to get our passports checked again.

All of our suitcases safe and sound. ^^

Then we walked through big doors to a new hall, where people were standing with little signs with the name of the person they came to pick up. There were big black signs with arrival times and lots of desks for transportation advice and –tickets. It was strange and so great to be back! ^^

So many flights after each other!

Last year my dad and I had taken the Narita Express by buying tickets. This year we did it differently: after some research my dad had suggested to buy us all a Suica card. A Suica card is kind of like the French Navigo, but also different. You put money on it and then you can travel until you’re out of money. He had found a deal where you could buy a Suica card and a ticket for the Narita Express for less money, so we chose to buy that. ^^
We left out cart behind and took our suitcases down the escalator. We found ourselves in the hall where my dad had taken a picture of me last year, because there we got confronted with our first signs with Japanese writing (and our first Starbucks XD). Instead of going left to the train station, we went right to the JR service center. While my dad waited in line (for a long time~), my mom and I stayed with our luggage.

Mom and me
My mom and me, guarding our luggage. I like this picture. ♥

To be honest, we were very tired. Last year my dad and I walked the first day on adrenaline and I expected it to happen again, but this time it was not the case. We had a lot of trouble to get used to the new time zone for a couple of days, which was quite a shame. :(
My dad returned with our tickets and told us our train would leave in 30 minutes.

Suica cards and tickets
My dad with our Narita Express tickets!

We calmly walked to the right platform (we saw our first vending machines on the way).
I lay down on a bench for a while while my parents talked for a bit. Then our train arrived and we got in. There were special places where you could stall your suitcase and place a lock on it so no one could steal it, but as our coupé was completely empty it wasn’t necessary.

The Narita Express
The Narita Express: the train you need to reserve places for while almost the entire train is empty.

We sat down in different seats and the train started driving. We drove almost the same route like last year, so I saw the village with the temple again and the hanging monorail (I finally know where it’s located now: in Chiba). While driving, my mom fell asleep. It was a shame, because the view of sunny Japan was wonderful, but she was just so tired! I slept a bit too to be honest…
When we drove into Tokyo we could see the Skytree! In case you don’t know it: the Skytree is Tokyo’s newest landmark. It’s a freaking high tower and last year they were still building it. Now it was finished and especially my dad hoped we could go up this year. ^^

Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree! Can you believe this things is almost twice as high as the Eiffeltower?

We drove past Shibuya, where I unfortunately didn’t see the big crossing and finally we arrived in Shinjuku, where our hotel was located. We got out at a dark platform, partially numb from our tiredness. My dad led the way, we just followed. We went up an escalator, walked some more and we arrived in a very familiar hall, where I could see the exit and an even more familiar street behind it! We left the station and found ourselves on the street in front of MyLord, our favourite shopping center from last year! The colours, the sounds, the people… Everything felt so familiar, yet new at the same time! The sun was shining, giving a nice temperature. Everything seemed perfect! It was so great to be back!

For the first time with my mom in Shinjuku. I was so happy I could show her all the amazing places we had been before!

We followed the street, up to the crossing with the big, orange clock. Of course we had to take a picture of it!

Big Orange Clock
The big orange clock! We took maaany pictures of it. ^^

We could see our old hotel to the left, but this time we stayed in a different hotel. Our old hotel didn’t have any triple rooms unfortunately, so we decided to stay in a different hotel, which was a little further away.
We followed the street and looked at all the people passing us by and listened to the music and voices blasting from the shops. My mom was really silent and looked around. Partially because she was tired, but also because she was amazed. This was all completely new to her!
We found our hotel quickly: a big, white building with a lot of floors is hard to miss.

Our new hotel!

We entered and walked into a white, shiny hall with its own convenience store, a Family Mart! We walked up to the information desk where my dad went to show our reservation while I looked around. This hotel was definitely very different from our previous hotel: it had restaurants, cafés and even a wedding chapel!
My dad told us we had to go the lobby on the third floor, where he went to conform our reservation at the desk while we waited again. He returned quickly and told us we were allowed to enter our room already, even though it was only 12:45 pm, which made us very happy. We were longing for sleep!
We took the elevator up to the 7th floor and entered our room. It had three beds (of course), which we immediately divided. I took the one furthest away from the door, against the wall, my mom took the one in the middle and my dad took the one closest to the door. There was also a little desk, a table with a lamp and a tiny bathroom with a toilet, a washing table and a bath with a shower. On the door hung a warning, saying not to shower with the door open or the fire alarm would go off. XD
We also had a window, but the view wasn’t special. I had read it before in reviews of the hotel, but I was still surprised: we couldn’t open the window! Even though we had airconditioning it was still stupid and it made my mom feel a little claustrophobic.
We went to sleep for a while (which was nice, I was getting dizzy) and we went on our way again around 4:30 pm. We took the elevator down to the lobby and took some escalators down to the ground floor. Our hotel hall was really nice, with colourful curtains hanging down, surrounded by colourful balloons. We left our hotel and walked around it, where we entered a 7/11 (thank you Google Maps!) to get our first money. My mom got her first yens! ^^

Mom's yens
My mom’s first Japanese yens!

We followed the street and walked up to MyLord to show my mom our favourite place to eat. We spend some time on the cool bridge in front of the building. I can’t really explain why I love that place so much. I guess it’s the view, especially at night.

Night is falling
The view from one side of the bridge in front of MyLord. The later and darker it gets, the more colourful and beautiful the neon lights become.

We entered MyLord and browsed the different floors a bit with all the stores. One store had adorable dresses with stars and clouds on them! It was so cool to see all kinds of clothes I had seen on street snaps. You could really tell what was ‘in’ at the moment.
It was so great to be back in MyLord! I could show my mom all the shops I had photographed for her last year! I showed her the ‘glittery bracelets shop’ (which turned out to be a DIY-shop), the kitchen- and garden shop and I took a picture of her in front of the beautiful lingerie- and bathrobes shop!

MyLord shopping
My mom asked me to take this picture of her, because when I sent her pictures of our trip last year, the picture of this shop made her really homesick for us. She wanted to be with us back then and now she was! ♥

We went up and up and arrived at the first restaurant floor. My mom got confronted with her first shop windows with fake food! ♥
After looking at all the windows, we decided to go eat in the restaurant where we ate the first day last year too (yeah, we’re original! ^^). My dad showed one of the waiters what we wanted. I chose the same plate as last year: noodles with soup and rice with delicious meat on top of it. My mom chose my father’s dish from back then: little plates with different delicious things and my dad chose something new: (probably) raw fried salmon and little plates with nice things too.

Delicious dinner
Eating with chopsticks! My parents got better at it every day.

My mom absolutely loved the food! She liked the fact we got ice water and the fact all of the staff said welcome and goodbye to customers.
I really loved our food so much too! I can’t tell you how much I had missed it.
My dad went to pay at the counter (he couldn’t stop talking about how much he liked the fact you received your receipt during dinner at your table, instead of trying to draw one of the waiter’s attention when you want to pay) and we left the restaurant. Suddenly, a waitress called us back and signed us to wait for a moment and she ran back into the restaurant. She quickly returned and thanked us. She probably thought we hadn’t paid yet, haha! XD
We left MyLord and decided to walk around for a bit instead of returning to the hotel (despite it being fun, I still wonder if that had been a good decision XD). We walked left and arrived at the square with the building with the big television screen, where Tower Records is located. We saw some people taking pictures with some weird mascots, very interesting to see. XD
I love how early it gets dark in Japan. Because the temperature was still nice it felt like we had a longer summer. ^^ We walked down the stairs and went left, heading for the big square with another big television screen and Studio Alta. I loved hearing all the people around me speaking Japanese. And call me weird, but I really thought (almost) everyone looked so amazing! They say Paris is the city of fashion, but I seriously think Tokyo wins! That night my mom told me she thought everyone looked so great! Men and women! She kept saying this during our trip, even after we had returned. ^^
We arrived at the square that was illuminated by all the neon lights and the television screen. Almost any picture you take there will look great: it’s so light there!

Studio Alta
Studio Alta! I have never been inside, but I know it well from the outside. ^^

We walked into the street with the fruit stall, where every piece of fruit was packed separately (such a waste XD). We walked on and walked past a beautiful shop especially for violins and violin bags. We also passed the shop Ma*rs and I explained to my mom what Gyaru was. Then we found a gaming station and we went inside. It was so noisy and colourful! There were probably purikura machines upstairs, but my dad didn’t want to that day. We walked around for a bit and looked at all the crane machines. They contained the cutest things, like candy or plushies. I also saw a machine filled with little Totoros. I would have loved to take one with me for my friend Sydney, but since I suck at those games I decided not to do it.

Colourful crane machine
One of the many colourful crane machines at the game station. ^^

I discovered a really cool game that had two big bongos. You had to drum on the beat and a camera filmed you and replaced your head with one of the really cute mascots. At least, that’s what I think the game was: I didn’t play it. ^^’
We left the arcade and walked into the neon streets of Kabukicho.

My dad and me in the illuminated streets of Kabukicho.

We were getting a bit tired, but walked on. We walked under the railroads, passing a mysterious but cozy alley and then arrived at a junction. I showed my mom where Closet Child was and she said: ‘Let’s go there now!’ For a very short moment I wanted to go, but I was tired and felt hot and it just didn’t seem like a good idea, so I suggested to go back to the hotel.
We followed the street all the way back to the crosswalk near our old hotel, passing a gambling hall that was so brightly illuminated on the front that it was really impossible to miss.

Red lights
When it comes to drawing attention, the Japanese rock in many different ways!

We followed the street, passing all kinds of hysterious shops.
To get to our hotel, we walked through a broad alley where a long row of drink vending machines was located. To my great happiness one machine sold hot Meiji chocolate. *_* We bought some drinks and returned to our hotel, where we wrote an email to my brother and went to sleep. Our first day had been great, but very tiring.


  1. Question: what hotel did you stay at?

    And I love these pictures too, looks like you had a nice first day!

    1. We stayed in the Shinjuku Washington Hotel. ^^

      I'm glad you do! =D

    2. would you recommend staying there?

    3. To be honest I would recommend our previous hotel more, the Shinjuku Sunroute Plaza. It's like a 100 meters from the station and it has a nice atmosphere. Breakfast at the restaurant on the ground floor was really nice, bit pricy though.
      The Washington Hotel is really nice too, but in my opinion it was a bit... I don't know.... claustrophobic at some points. BUT the breakfast in the restaurant on the top floor was amazing!

  2. Wow I wish I was this lucky in my life ^^
    Sadly I come from a family with three kids, me as the oldest and my two smaller sisters (age 24 and 21) and divorced parents.
    But I don't think I would have gotten the chance to go anyway, since my mom wouldn't like Japan... and my farther.... and my sisters too... lol I guess I would be the only one who would like it, haha :)
    Hope to get a job soon so I too can visit Japan some wonderful day XD (currently trying to become a Multimedia Animator)
    For now I'm just trying to earn enough cash to go to bloody France.
    Hope you're have an amazing trip :D

    1. I think going to Japan is the most fun with someone who shares your passions, but to be honest: my parents were never interested in Japan. I went to Tokyo with my dad as a graduation gift and he ended up loving it. Same for my mom. And as Tokyo is shopping heaven, your sisters might like it after all. ;) So you never know. ^^
      Ah good luck with finding a job! ^^ I really need to hunt too!
      GO TO FRANCE! It's gorgeous! XD

  3. Ah I've been in the same hotel! :D
    Can't wait for your next post!

    1. Haha yay! ^^
      Thank you, I'll do my best to finish it soon!

  4. And finally back to catching up with your posts! xD I really need to catch up ^-^;
    But I'm so glad to see your mom so happy to be in Japan!

    1. I always see your lovely comments so late, I am sorry. ;___;
      Thank you so much sweetie. <3

  5. Hi! This is so lovely to read! I'm going to Japan in september with a friend for the first time!!! So exciting! ^^ (Belgian girl here btw ;) )

    1. Yay, now that I am moderating comments I actually know when people comment on older posts! ^^
      Thank you very much, I am glad you like my posts! Oh how exciting, I hope you have lots of fun! Will you write reports as well? =D