Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome to Japan

On November 20th the MV Explorer arrived in Yokohama, Japan! As we approached and the sun began to rise we could see Mt Fuji in the distance, it was amazing. The port terminal was beautiful, it has a large park/promenade area on the roof that seemed to be a popular running area based on the number of people we saw. We were welcomed by a group of drummers and I had to laugh at the thought of all the people still sleeping and being startled awake by all the noise.

After the disembarkation and immigration process, which the LLCs helped with of course we were finally set free around noon. A group of us had plans to go to Tokyo the next day and we would need train tickets for the trip to Kobe on the Shinkansen (the bullet train) so the group of us went to the station to buy our tickets. With tickets purchased our group split up – the Beckers went to the Ramen Noodle museum (yes, really) AB and I went looking for an ATM that we could use to no avail. With our cranky pants on we needed something to cheer us up and Starbucks served the purpose.

With our coffee in hand set our sights on the big Ferris wheel that could be seen from the ship. On the way we walked through a mall and I saw a sweatshirt that caught my eye.
I couldn’t believe it – Walled Lake! That is where I went to high school back in Michigan. If the sweatshirt didn’t cost $90.00 I would have considered buying it but instead I just have photos. Cue tangent - Japan over all is very expensive. We had been told this as we approached Japan but I figured, ‘eh, I live in Los Angeles, everything is expensive, how bad can it be?’ It was bad. I would say in general things were nearly double the price in some stores. Ok, end of tangent.

AB and I finally made it to the amusement park area we enjoyed watching the nearly empty park rides zip along their tracks and decided not to pay the $7.00 to ride the Ferris wheel.
We walked along the water back to the ship and enjoyed the skyline light up all around us.
We had been invited by our assistant dean of students and good friend ED to go out dinner with the filed office coordinator and the two of the agents from the tour company that SAS worked with.

I have no idea where they took us but it was amazing. We had our own private room, which I guess is pretty common. The two agents asked what we liked and more importantly what we didn’t like and the next thing we knew food was coming in, plate after plate and beverages glass after glass. I continued my efforts at eating with chopsticks and did quite well considering When the plates of sushi came out I challenged myself and moved past the California roll but not much and had two tuna rolls. At that point I called it good. The two girls showed us a great time and thankfully got us back to the train station and even went all the way back to the ship with us as their kind hospitality put us in a condition less than ideal to try and figure out a tricky subway map in a different language.

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