We set out for our adventure early Thursday morning. We packed up all our stuff and walked a mile to catch the bus to downtown Seattle, where we transferred to a bus to Seatac airport. As we were getting on the second bus, Jordan left the camera bag with our nice digital SLR on the bench, and someone told us just in the nick of time. That would have been a not-so-good start to our vacation!
The flight was uneventful, although the in-flight entertainment system is a really nice feature! Some trivia, games, and 3 movies later, our first introduction to Tokyo was all the green rice paddies and forests intermingled with buildings as we flew over. The rivers were highly managed with concrete banks, but beautiful in their meanderings nonetheless.
Upon arrival at Tokyo station, we promptly became lost. The informaiton desks helped a bit, but the arrows directing us to trains was initally confusing (why do diagonal arrows indicate u-turns?)... so some helpful strangers pointed us to the appropriate subway trains. We then realized that while we had a JR rail pass, that didn't mean we could use the subways too, so we had to figure out the subway system and automatic pay machines.
This sign is one of many we saw in the subway systems that were somewhat humorous! But I guess they totally work, because everyone was basically polite! And super quiet, no cell phone use at all on the subways.
Once we got to Akasuka-mitsuke station, we walked out onto the street and right into one of the nicest hotels we have ever been in. Going up the escalator to the front desk, first we had to pass by several japanese businessmen lounging in the restaurant area, smoking, and looking rather shocked to see us there...
That was the first clue something was amiss. The 4 hostesses that greeted us and asked us very politely and formally if we wouldn't mind waiting in line for the front desk, and directed us to the proper place and stood with us... that was the 2nd clue.
And then we checked in and paid and saw that the first night was NOT 5000 yen each as Amy originally thought when she booked the room, but rather 30000 yen total. So rather than it being a $100/night room, it was more like $300/night. Oops.
We decided to stay for the planned 2 nights anyway, and after a refreshing cold shower and change of clothes we ventured out to wander around the side streets near the hotel. Turns out Akasuka is right in the heart of the action and we got to see many people walking the side streets on their way home from work, or out on the town in fancy clothes... and so after checking out the scene a bit we decided to stop in at what looked to be a dive bar serving cheap chinese (sort of) food. The food was indeed cheap, and super delicious! We sampled some noodles and soup and dumplings, and a couple other small things that we didn't recognize. A bit more walking around the side streets, watching all the people and looking at the closed shops and super crazy pachinko places, and we were ready to hit the sack.