We woke up well into the flight, on the other side of the International Date Line. Crystal read her Kindle, and Justin had close to a dozen magazines that had piled up over the last couple of months, so we had plenty of reading material. We tried to get a bit of exercise and stretch, to prevent swollen ankles and other maladies, but there's only so much that can be done on an airplane. An hour or two before landing, they served some food, and the noodles left a lot to be desired. We figured we might be able to get something slightly better in Japan. We landed around 2pm at Narita airport, the main international airport in Tokyo. It was sunny in Tokyo, and about 70 degrees as well. We had checked the weather, and it was supposed to be nice all week, save for Wednesday when it was supposed to rain.

It was quick getting through immigration and customs, and right when we got through everything, we saw Crystal's parents, Dewey and Clarita. We walked over to an ATM, as they mentioned that ATMs for foreign banks aren't that common, and the airport is one spot where you can reliably get cash. [We found out later that 7-Eleven is another reliable spot.] We tried to get on a bus to the Ginza district (where our hotel was), but it was full, so we went inside and found a different bus company and they had one leaving in about 20 minutes. So we waited outside and enjoyed some fresh air until the bus arrived. The first buses we saw were 2 minutes late, which apparently is an event in Japan. All of the mass transit is remarkably timely, which is really helpful given how many people take mass transit. Our bus arrived a minute or so late, but that was it. The bus was pretty nice, and someone came aboard to tell us to fasten our seatbelts. The windows on the bus were remarkably clean, not a single smudge or spot on either the inside or outside of the windows.

The area immediately around the airport was much greener than we expected, with lots of trees, bamboo, and the occasional rice paddy. The closer we got to Tokyo, the grayer the skies became. Supposedly in the spring the skies are gray because of dust from the Gobi desert that blows in. Since it was blue skies in Narita, however, we assumed smog had something to do with it as well. Either way, we were happy it wasn't raining, as we had enough rain on our Polynesia cruise in February. We passed Disneyland on the way in, and saw a lot of tall buildings, but aside from Tokyo Tower, there isn't much of a distinctive skyline. Our hotel (the Courtyard Marriott Ginza) was the 4th stop once we got into the city, and we got there about 4pm. We cleaned up quickly, changed, and then took the subway to Electric City.


The Tokyo subway puts anything we'd experienced in the US to shame. There are lines running throughout the city, to the point it'd be tough to go more than 8-10 blocks in any direction without coming upon a station. The stations extend well underground, and have multiple levels below ground as well. On each line, the stations are numbered as well as named, so it wasn't as difficult to get around as we worried. To get to Electric City, we went into the Higashi-Ginza station, which was just a block or two from the hotel. We took the Hibiya Line six stops to Akihabra, and Electric City was just above the station exit. Electric City is a bit like Fry's Electronics, but about 5-10x bigger. There must have been a half-dozen different floors, each one with various sections. For example, there was an entire section dedicated to vacuum cleaners. It seemed to have every electronic product known to man. We spent a decent amount of time in the camera section, looking at cameras and lenses. This section was massive, but maybe a bit smaller than B&H camera in New York. The prices weren't really any better than we could get at home, and we couldn't make out any product information other than the price, so we didn't get anything.

We walked around Akihabra for just a bit while Dewey told us about the neighborhood, as his company has an office (not his main one) near the Akihabra Station. We had dinner reservations coming up, however, so we needed to get back on the subway to get over to the Hongo neighborhood. Best as we can recall, we went one stop on the Hibiya Line (to H16, Naka-okachimachi), then walked through an underground corridor connecting that station to the Ueno-okachimachi station, and in that station we got on the Oedo line to go one stop to Hongo-sanchome. For just having been in the city a couple hours, we were definitely getting immersed in no time. Back above ground, the neighborhood seemed much more residential, and it was substantially less busy than either Ginza or Akihabra. We weren't 100% sure where the restaurant was, and Dewey couldn't find his exact location on his iPhone, and our iPhones weren't working, so we had to ask a couple of people for directions. We walked around for a bit and got turned around a couple of times (it didn't help that multiple folks told us to make a turn at the police station, but there were two police stations right near one another). Eventually Crystal got her phone to work, as we didn't realize that we had to manually turn mobile data roaming on - probably a good feature.

We got to the restaurant well before our 7pm reservation time at Jumbo Hongo, so it wasn't a big deal we'd done some extra meandering. We probably could use the exercise anyway. Dewey and Clarita had been to the restaruant a couple of times years earlier, and highly recommended it. The restaurant was a Japanese steakhouse, specializing in Wagyu Beef. Part of the menu was in english, but the Japanese menu had pictures that we could point at, and we also looked around at what other patrons were getting that looked good. We got some kimchi, salad, but mostly a lot of meat, mostly beef (we think) with some pork loin as well. For the most part, we cooked our own food on a burner that was in front of us. Everything was quite thin, so it didn't take long to cook the items. We also got some sake and some Japanese whiskey. Everything was very good, but the highlight was when they cooked one of the prime cuts for us (we're assuming that for the best stuff, they don't want us to screw it up), and cut the steak in half using a toothpick. We wrapped up at 8pm - as best we can tell there is a time limit on the table, so that they can serve more people - but we were stuffed as it was.

We went back a more direct route, taking the Marunouchi Line from Hongo-sanchome to Ginza. The Ginza station is right near our hotel, and we wanted to see some of the bright lights, so we just walked around the Ginza district for a bit before heading back to the hotel. Ginza is a famous shopping area in Tokyo, similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, 5th Avenue in New York, Michigan Avenue in Chicago, etc. But it wasn't just one street, but a pretty good sized square of maybe 6x10 blocks. We did some window shopping, but then headed back to the hotel as we had an early morning ahead of us. We were doing okay on adjusting to time, as we were just now getting tired and it was right around 9pm. At the hotel they told us if we wanted to see the auction at the fish market the next morning, we'd need to leave even earlier than we thought. Our 4am wakeup call got changed to 3am. Time to crash.