Another adventure has begun and it’s only been a year in the planning. Anticipation is supposed to be half the fun, but I’m not convinced. Now that we’ve actually landed, the ‘fun’ of waiting for it has been far outweighed by the actuality of its arrival.
The first plane was on time both leaving Edmonton and arriving in Vancouver. With a 2.5 hour layover there was ample time to deal with security, potty breaks and grabbing some water to tide us over. The Japan Airlines plane was a 787 – 8 Dreamliner (that JAL just bought another 4 of!) wide-body. My (previously successful) gentle bribery of the airline staff did not bring us any additional benefits this time, but I suspect it was due, at least in part, to the fact that the plane was full.
As it turns out it really didn’t matter much. Dinner included real cutlery (and a set of chopsticks) and 2 servings of wine (one of which, for me, was Sake!). Our seats also included a pillow, a blanket, and a set of headphones. The window had a control to dim incoming light much like photochromatic sunglasses (although these do not do so automatically). The mesh pocket in the back of the seat in front of us also had 2 individual pockets for holding things like water bottles, glasses, etc. The entertainment screen (also on the back of the seat) was touch-operated for everything. Still not business class, true enough, but not 5 times the price either.
The flight itself was uneventful and even managed to arrive about an hour early. Going through customs in Japan was an absolute breeze (hear that, CBSA??) and within 20 minutes of landing we were in the waiting area looking for our ride to the hotel. This became our first experience with hospitality and service in Japan. Our ride was already waiting for us with a well-displayed sign bearing our name. After a brief wait for the other occupant of our ride-share, we were on our way.
Like in England, driving is on the left side of the road. Unnerving enough on the highway and much more so in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo City. The ride in took about 1.5 hours and we shared pleasantries with the other lady in the van.
Arriving at the hotel we were greeted by white-gloved bell-hops. Plural is the proper term as there was one to open the van door, another to get our luggage and put it on the luggage trolley and still another to take us to the front desk. At the desk, once again everything was very efficiently handled and still another bellhop came to take our luggage trolley and us to our room. At the elevator there was (yep!) another person whose sole purpose seemed to be to push the button to get the elevator. He then made sure the doors were held open so there would be no accidental closings while we were getting on.
And NO-ONE waited with a hand-out expecting a tip!! This is hard to wrap my head around.
It’s been a Very long day so (and this is going to sound strange indeed) we simply strolled around the hotel for a bit and decided to have dinner at (wait for it)…the buffet. As it turns out, acceptable at best but far from what is available both in the hotel and on the streets in the immediate vacinity. It was our first experience with the price of dining out in Tokyo. Bring LOTS of money.
These were our first few hours in Tokyo, and the better part of this day was spent just getting here. As I sit writing this it is 9:30 Thursday night (we arrived Wednesday afternoon), so I am severely behind schedule. I will do my best to get caught up tomorrow. Today turned into a full day of walking about, which I will expound upon further and tomorrow is going to be the same. But with luck I’ll get it all done.