Last we left our hero he’d arrived in Japan safely (which makes sense as air travel is actually much safer than most other types of travel) and had to face down the scourge of customs.
Actually, it was quite easy. I filled out a few forms, answered a few questions from a beautiful Japanese customs agent (and she was beautiful) and found myself in the lobby of Japan’s central airport.
Now the benefit of a travel agent kicked in. You see Tokyo international airport is not in Tokyo. It’s actually 20 minutes of freeway travel outside Tokyo. The normals means of traveling into and out of the airport is either by car, which I didn’t have or by bus.
I was dreading trying to navigate the Tokyo bus system while jet lagged, slightly intoxicated, (the plane had free booze) and sick, when I recalled that my lovely travel agent had booked me a car.
What I was expecting was a vanpool from the airport to the city, and I looked for my ride. I found a young Japanese driver impeccably dressed holding a sign with my name on it. He spoke more English that I did Japanese, and after a quick confirmation. What I found was this.
A private car. I had never felt so…classy. We drove in silence more out of the language barrier than anything else. Outside a gentle rain was falling. This was the first stirrings of a tropical storm that would shadow me through Tokyo and Kyoto, and I would lose once I made it to Osaka.
The outskirts of Tokyo were more heavily forested than I thought they would be and minutes passed on. Lighted bridges passed to my left and the Tokyo highway system snaked through the city. There was no traffic and few drivers. I smiled as I realized nearly every car on the road was Japanese, and how logical that was.
As we passed into the Shinjuku district, the location of my first hotel, things began to swim before me. The exhaustion and ickiness I felt melded with sheer awe. Here around me the city of Tokyo swarmed, people walked with umbrellas, bright lights shone about me, advertisements blared from trucks, the universe moved and I was a small rather insignificant part of it.