Aditi and I traveled to Japan together from Bangalore, and a few hours before our flight, I had one of the worst mishaps happen to me that could happen to one a few hours before they leave a country for an extended period of time. I lost my phone in the streets of Bangalore while it was raining (loss #1). A friend and I went stomping around in large and deep puddles on the inner streets of Bangalore and I definitely looked like a crazy person to everyone passing by. Luckily, someone had picked up my phone right before the rain got really crazy, and my phone was saved!
Now that the mishap was out of the way, the actual journey was pretty normal. Our layover in Singapore was in the middle of the night – India time – and we were trying to fall asleep in the middle of the very alive Singapore airport. See below picture.
We finally reached Japan the next night around 6pm at Narita airport. Now, both Aditi and I have learned Japanese in college and have watched a lot of anime. But when we first got there, we were hesitant to speak it and ended up speaking English at the airport. I was a little sad about it, but then realized I had two weeks to test out my Japanese. I made it a point to say “arigatou gozaimasu” (“thank you”) when thanking someone though.
We picked up a pocket wifi, which is a device that acts as a wifi hotspot when you need it (useful since we didn’t have SIM cards). We named our hotspot ‘kokowadoko’ which means ‘where is this place?’ since we knew our biggest use of the wifi would be to figure out where the heck we were at any given point. 😀
We also activated our JR passes at the airport which we were planning to use for the length of our trip. JR passes are passes that allow you to ride the Shinkansen (bullet trains) and other local JR train lines. These passes are only available to foreigners, so I recommend you get one if you are planning to travel to Japan!
I was carrying one giant 27kg suitcase (I was just finishing up a 3-month internship). In the struggle of hauling this onto the Narita Express train to get to Chigasaki (where we were staying close to Tokyo), I dropped one of my train tickets (loss #2). After transferring trains to get to Chigasaki, there was no elevator or escalator to get upstairs. So Aditi and I kept taking turns trying to lift different sides of the monstrous suitcase. One guy coming downstairs made an “O” face on seeing us and offered to help. He gallantly went to pick it up and then immediately changed his expression on feeling how heavy it was, but he didn’t show it further and basically ran up the stairs with the suitcase. Before he ran, I said “omoi desu ne” (“it’s heavy, right?”) and I was happy I finally got to speak Japanese. 🙂 Aditi and I call this guy the “omoi suitcase guy”.
We finally reached Chigasaki and had a bit of trouble trying to find the place. I was so excited to be testing out my Japanese and getting a response from strangers which meant I was speaking correctly! For instance, with the cab driver, I had to show a picture of the house and said “kore mitai desu” (“like this”) and he said “dore mitai?” (“like what?”). Eep, someone understood me!
Anyway, we finally found our homestay (accommodation style #1) and met our hosts Soness and Yuki who were such sweet hosts! Yuji was from Japan and had also lived in New Zealand for a long time, while Soness was from the US and had settled in Japan for the past 15-20 years. There was another guest staying in the house at the time named Rob. Rob was originally from England but had been doing a lot of traveling around Asia and our paths collided during the first two days of our trip!