Good morning from Tokyo! I have had the most pleasant (if jet-lagged) first night and morning possible in Tokyo.
I arrived last night just a smidge late due to the snow and ice in Denver. I think I got through passport control, baggage claim and customs in a record 15 minutes flat! Waiting to greet me when I got off the plane was Mr. Alan Scott Pate himself. Alan is the foremost American expert on Japanese dolls, and he is the creator and leader of our small-group tour. Big kudos to Alan and his team at HE Travel for meeting every single one of tour participants at the airports as we have arrived. In case you missed it (or I forgot to mention?) I am in Japan with a group that will be focusing on Japanese dolls…it is possible that some of my travel readers don’t know that I’ve been writing about and photographing dolls for many years, and hence this tour.
The most amazing thing about Alan greeting me at the airport (besides how wonderful it is to see a familiar face upon arrival far away from home) was that Alan helped me rent a mobile wi-fi hotspot for my trip. These little wonders are about 1/2 the size of my iPhone 6S+, and will keep me wi-fi connected for my entire trip; I believe the cost was just under $100 for the 12 days. For all the times I’ve been traveling to Japan, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this! I can now blog and social media from anywhere.
It was also wonderful to have Alan take me to the handy airport shuttle which goes directly to my hotel (just 1 other stop before). If you’ve ever taken an shuttle from Narita, there are just so many of them and getting on the right one can confuse the jet-lagged mind. The shuttle was very reasonably priced; under $30 US.
I arrived at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu (in the Akasaka area of Tokyo) just before 8pm. I opened the door and the view of Tokyo from my room took my breath away. Even as tired as I was, I was taking photos almost immediately. I was too tired to go out to dinner, so I had a quick room-service curry and was in bed by 10pm.
I won’t bore you with the parts of the night that I was awake from the jet lag way too early, except that the benefit of the insomnia was to be awake for sunrise over Tokyo. The views were stunning; out came my camera again. And as I’m shooting, I see this giant snow-covered mountain…such a large mountain, I have actually never seen the mountains from a hotel in Tokyo before…wait….IS THAT MT. FUJI? This is important because I have not managed to get even a glimpse of Mt. Fuji on all my trips to Japan, a fact that was mentioned to Alan last night; he says that he has very good Mt. Fuji luck and sees it all the time so perhaps we would see it on this trip on the Shinkansen. Well, it would be pretty amazing if I’ve already seen it! Confirmation to follow later.
After my window-gazing sunrise, I took the most amazing Japanese shower and bath. I normally don’t blog about baths and such, but this IS Japan, so bathing is important, and my shower/tub also had the most amazing views (not to mention the most amazing shower pressure…so soothing to my RA travel-swollen joints).
Then breakfast (included with the hotel, a cut above the typically wonderful Japanese breakfast buffet…check out the photo to get an idea). I saw some of the other lovely ladies on the tour at breakfast. For the afternoon I’m off to the Takarazuka theater to hopefully see Grand Hotel and to do some Takarazuka shopping for my daughter. More on this later; briefly Takarazuka is an all-female musical theater revue. Sold out, so I’m only going to get to go if I can scalp a ticket. I don’t speak Japanese, but I have great directions from my daughter on how to do this, so wish me luck!