Writer, traveler, maker


Travel updates and occasional commentary

Tokyo day 1: Travel and grocery stores

As I did in November, I'll try to send a few updates from my trip. I spent most of today traveling, which involved some unexpected excitement.

A few hours into the flight, I started feeling cold despite my sweatshirt and a blanket, so decided to find the robe I packed. Unfortunately, in my groping, I hit the new blade on my razor just right and took a nick out of my right index  fingertip. I'd actually packed some bandaids, but as I was finally heading back to my seat from the bathroom, I got really lightheaded, dropped my glasses and fell on the floor (I either nearly or briefly fainted; not sure which). Everyone was really kind about it, but it's a little hard writing at present.

Getting to my hostel from the airport proved a little trickier than expected. For some reason, it took me about 20 minutes just to figure out which map--and which part of it--corresponded to the stations on our route. Eventually I found it, though. Fortunately my extremely limited Japanese includes the phrase, "Do you speak English?"

By the time I checked in, my group had already gone to dinner, so I wandered around in search of bandaids and something to eat. It was quite fun prowling through several small drug and grocery stores, but attempting to order on my own was more challenging than expected (mostly a look-and-point affair). Thankfully I guessed well on a curry.

The temperature at evening reminds me of Singapore's warm humidity. I can't remember when I last had a such a pleasant walk. The city streets -- at least in this area -- have a very unexpected quality, too. Many pedestrians, but they walk slower than those in other cities, and bikers seem to be everywhere. Unlike the jam-packed trains I expected, my first few hours in the city show a place both urban yet unusually relaxed. I'm very curious to see if tomorrow reveals a different side of Tokyo.

It's now 9 p.m. here, so I think I'll finally turn in. Among other things tomorrow, I have to prepare and give a talk on my book in the evening.