October 28, Taipei: It was my last night in Taiwan. Tired from playing with cats at Houtong and wandering with the crowds of Jiufen, I went straight to the airport. I spent the night taking a nap at the departure area, while waiting for the check-in time of my Scoot Airlines flight bound for Tokyo.
The plane would depart from the city at 6:40AM the next day. We know that international flight departures open their check-in counters three hours before flight, and this was my first time to see people queuing up even 4 hours before take-off! Right in that airport I first saw the finest Japanese behaviour showing their punctuality.
October 29, Tokyo: We landed in Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10:45AM local time, and cloudy skies welcomed us. I changed my remaining Taiwan Dollars together with some US Dollars, and bought a bus ticket to city for 1000 JPY. As far as I know, airport bus is the cheapest way of transport to the city! Its terminal from the other side is near the train station and right after I alight the bus from the airport, I bought the functional PASMO card which can be used almost everywhere in Japan, including buses, trains, some vending machines, and side-by-side convenient stores.
On my first day in the city, I didn’t intend to go to most of the attractions. I’ve just spent my time walking around our neighbourhood at Asakusa, relaxing at Sumida Park, strolling around the Asahi Beer Headquarters, adoring the peaceful atmosphere by the Sumida River, and asking a stranger to take a picture of me with a Tokyo Skytree background.
I found myself in the farther, Edo-Tokyo Museum late in the afternoon when I felt tired from the flight on the earlier part of the day that convinced me to go home and take a rest. I got more interested with the city on the day I started my journey, when I finally encountered the Japanese life.
The day wasn’t finished when I went back to my hostel. By the time I checked-in, I was alone in a four-bed dorm but then suddenly there were these two guys who came in and turned out to be my roommates. We greeted each other and I found out that they were Indonesian workmates who live in the famous and gorgeous Bali. We got to know each other in a short time and because I didn’t have dinner yet, I asked to join them and they didn’t hesitate. They also had two female friends with them who live in another room which brought me four new friends on my journey!
We ate at the famous Ichiran Ramen as suggested by them, and man, this ramen could be expensive but that was a good start for me to taste the authentic Japanese-style noodles! The way of making an order seemed new to me but it’s the usual for the locals. There is this vending machine near the entrance and people have to choose an order by paying and clicking the food that they like to eat. Then it will print the stub which will have to be given to the staff. We sat on the seats with table dividers. The noodle bowl was served by the waiters in front of us from the other side. Once the order is finished, they close the window from the other side by moving down the curtain.
Supposedly they were planning to go to a clothing store after dinner but it was already the closing time for most of the shops. We instead walked around Senso-ji Temple and tried to know our luck with the Omikuji. We went past the line of izakayas and saw a lot of Japanese people hanging out and having fun. After a little time strolling around late at night, we went back to the hostel to take a shower and rest.
It was a very long day for me, bringing myself and my itchy feet from Taiwan to Japan. I was excited to face the next day as I start the step of experiencing and adapting myself to the Japanese city life. Tokyo didn’t disappoint me and I knew why people are keep going back to this place.
Itinerary – Day 1:
- Asahi Beer Headquarters
- Sumida River
- Sumida Park
- Edo-Tokyo Museum
- Senso-ji Temple