Well, it's been a week since I returned from Japan, and I still think it was an amazing trip! Here are a few overall impressions in this final blog entry on the subject.
I love the juxtaposition of the old and the new in a very cosmopolitan seting.
I was surprised at how infrequently the gaijin (foreigners) acknowledged each other's presence. Even the other Black folks averted their eyes when we came near (!).
I did not stand out as much height-wise as I thought I would. Although I did not see anyone taller than me, there is a considerable height variance among Japanese folks, plus there were a bunch of tall Aussies around.
Although 7 out of 8 days were in Tokyo, we only saw a portion of the city. There are many other neighborhoods we want to visit.
One can get around the city fairly easily with just a knowledge of English: there are plenty of signs in English, and lots of people speak English too. In order to get around better next time, though, I'm taking Beginning Japanese in fall 2009!
From June 4-12 V and I visited Japan. We were primarily in Tokyo, but also spent a day and night in the Hakone area. I posted pictures and videos on my facebook page. The videos are embedded in today's previous 4 blog entries. Pictures can be accessed via a public facebook photo album link. I also made daily blog entries about our activities. Scroll down below the videos to find those postings. Overall, the trip was fantastic, and we can hardly wait to return!
At brunch witnessed a plate prepared where the fish was still alive when presented to the customer (!).
Took the subway and JR Narita Express train line to the airport. (Took a bus and taxi to the hotel on day 1.) My scheduled train was initially delayed and then taken out of service due to mechanical problems; the next scheduled train packed in two loads of passengers.
Arrived home before I left (departed NRT at 4:25 PM on Friday the 12th; arrived MSP at 1:00 PM on Friday the 12th).
Did not receive an exit row seat on the flight. Luckily the guy in front of me did not recline.
Decided that Steerage (Economy/"Coach") is OK for domestic flights, but I'll have to shell out for First Class or World Business Class on the next international flight.
Visit to Roppongi (Roppongi Hills mixed-use real estate complex) and Akihabara ("Electric Town").
Lunch at an order-by-prepaid ticket Ramen bar.
Guided tour of Studio Ghibli Museum.
Called out as a gaijin by a couple of giggly school girls.
Could not find a Lonely Planet-recommended noodle restaurant in Ginza for dinner, after a 30 minute search; ended up in a great Chinese restaurant.
Waited over 5 minuites for the first time for a subway. This is not a complaint; normally they arrive every 2 or 3 minutes, it seems! 5 minutes is still way better than a 10+ minute average wait in some other cities I've experienced...