2 January 2010

1st Day in Japan

I have just arrived at Tokyo's Narita Airport. Overall the journey was quite quick. Once I got to the airport I had to buy a train ticket from Narita airport to Ikebukuro. My friend Ebz had told me the previous day that it would only cost around 2,200 yen. However once I was ready to pay the lady told me it would cost 3,300 yen. Luckily I had the money because I wasn't expecting to pay just 2,200.

I waited around 20 minutes for my train to arrive. The train was actually the Narita Express that would take me straight to Ikebukuro station where I would have to change there to get on the Seibu Line. It took around 1hr40min to get to Ikebukuro station. When I got off the Express Train and actually went in to the station I was slightly overwhelmed by all the signs and people rushing around.

I walked around the station a little bit until I found the signs for Seibu-Ikebukuro line. At first I was a little confused about where I was supposed to buy my ticket. It wasn't until I saw a crowd of people gathering around a set of machine's that I realised that was where I was supposed to purchase my ticket. Unfortunately for me there were no instructions as to how to buy my ticket.

Luckily I was able to figure out that the number (station) on the train line map related to the number on the machine which in this case was 260. After I had bought the ticket I was a little confused where to go because on the electronic timetable I did not see Hibarigaoka. I had to ask for some help, this was when my Japanese started to actually come in handy.

I asked a mother and her children for help in Japanese. I told them I wanted to go to Hibarigaoka but I didn't know where to get the train from. The daughter went to look at the timetable for me and realised what platform I needed to get the train from. They told me you need to get the train to Hana but the mother then said to me it is the 2nd stop, that is Hibarigaoka. I thanked them then proceeded to platform 5 to get on my train. It only took around 10 minutes to get to Hibarigaoka from Ikebukuro because it was the express train.

When I arrived in Hibarigaoka I recognised the area from looking it up previously on google maps street view. I followed the map I had previously printed off of the Tatami Guesthouse's website. The walk was not very far from the station but I did feel tired after a little while because my suitcase was slightly heavy and I was carrying two of them plus a bag on my back.

After about 20 minutes I got to the area I thought the guest house was according to the map but I couldn't find it. I also didn't have a phone to contact anyone to ask them where I need to go. While I was wondering around lost I bumped into an old couple, I asked them for help in Japanese and thankfully they were more than happy to help although neither of them spoke English however. I told them I wanted to go to Tatami/Hibari Guesthouse and they phoned their daughter to ask her for help. The mother then passed the phone to me so that I could speak to her daughter. The daughter asked me in English were it was I wanted to go and I told her. She then asked me to pass the phone back to her mother. The mother then realised where this place was and told her husband. They then told me to follow them as we walked back up the road. Eventually we ended up at the Tatami/Hibari Guesthouse, I thanked both of them and bowed and they simply said while smiling you're welcome.

When I went inside, the place was empty. On the side near the office was a letter and a key, at the top of the letter was my name. The letter simply explained where my room was as well as other amenities. I proceeded to my room and unlocked the door, I was so happy to be able to sit down at last. I quickly plugged in my netbook to see if either Jordan or Ebz were online to inform them I had arrived. I waited about 30 minutes then Jordan came online, I told what number my room was and then he said he will meet me in a minute. Jordan came down and greeted me, I then asked him where the others were and he told me still sleeping, I laughed because it was around 2pm now. He said that he was just about to have a shower and would see me again shortly.

Later that day I met more of the people who are staying at the guesthouse in the common room. I met a guy named Adam who was also from London, this guy was pretty cool and very welcoming. He told me some useful things about the Guesthouse which I appreciated. He then told me he was going to the local Super-Market called Life and asked me if I would like to tag along so I thought why not.

Inside Life there was also a MacDonalds, at first I didn't want to eat that but I then thought I'm hungry so I might as well get something I am familar with. Adam ordered me a new pork burger with some tangy sauce as well as a "shakin' chicken" or something. It was a piece of chicken fillet that came in a bag which you sprinkled either lemon or black pepper on then shook the bag. Once I had finished my lunch I did a little bit of shopping. I just bought some crisps and bread with some ham and cheese which I could use to make a sandwich.

When I got back to the Guesthouse I ended up falling asleep as I sat in my room. I woke up later that evening with so much energy. Because another one of the guests staying at the Guesthouse was leaving soon everyone decided to go out to wish him farewell. We ended up going to a local bar which one of the guys went often. The guy that owned the place was nick named Master. This guy was very friendly and kept giving us free food. We stayed at this bar until about 4am.

When we left the streets were practically empty void of any people except ourselves. A few of us were feeling hungry and decided to eat some curry so stopped of at a local restaurant in the area. This place was pretty cool because you make your order outside using a machine then take your ticket inside and hand it to the waiter/chef for him to cook it for you.

After we had finished our meal many of us couldn't decide what we wanted to do so just decided to walk back to the Guesthouse. When we got in it was around 5am. Because I was so awake it was difficult for me to get to sleep. I woke up the next day at around 8am but then went back to sleep at about 11am. I then woke up at 3pm. I think my sleeping pattern is slowing fixing its self....maybe!

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