After a 12 hour flight from Frankfurt I landed at Narita Intl. Airport on Feb. 21, 2001 at about 9am. Imagine how well I slept in Lufthansa’s Enconomy class, considering the fact that I’m 6’5″ tall. But all tiredness is suddenly gone, when you realize where you are. In a country that immediatly turns you into an illiterate since Japanese have yet to learn how to write. They still use several antique alphabets not displayable by your web browser.
Well, I managed it through immigration and customs without bigger problems. Surprise! These people were even speaking some kind of English. Surprise even more! I didn’t understand a word they said. Well, didn’t I say some kind of English? But definitely not the kind of English the rest of the world would be able to understand.
I agreed to meet Klaus in downtown Tokyo and not at the airport. Which is about 70 km away – probably Klaus was just too lazy to go to the there. But he gave me detailed instruction how to get there:
- Go downstairs to Keisei Line
- Buy a ticket at a ticket machine
- Take the train to Ueno.
- Maybe you have to change trains in Aoto.
He promised to wait at Ueno station. Note the precise description of the place…
Well, Step 1 (going downstairs) was easy, Step 2 (buying a ticket at the machine) was not. Too many buttons, all labelled with strange japanese signs. Finally I bought a ticket from a guy at a counter (kind of English, ya know…), I managed Step 3 (taking a train to Ueno) quite well. Being on that train I decided to skip Step 4 (maybe changing trains in Aoto).
Well, at about 11am, I was at Ueno station, and – now I was really surprised! – there was Klaus.
First we took a little walk through Ueno park to get to the subway station. Which was fun, since I was still carrying all my luggage. We (that means Klaus) immediatly lost our way. Which was fun, since I was still carrying all my luggage.
So we took another walk along a road with a lot of traffic (which was, you get the pattern…) and finally we found the subway station and went to Shinagawa, where his flat is.
We had a quick lunch in a small downstairs restaurant. I had a Tonkatsu which in Austria would be called Wienerschnitzel mit Kartoffelpüree und Krautsalat, but Japanese seems to be the more efficient language.
By the way: Has anyone ever considered eating a Wienerschnitzel with chopsticks?
Well, Klaus’es flat is, hmm… a little small, but it’s really cheap. Rent is only about 730 Euros a month. But that includes an old kitchen, a bathtub which can be (and is) used as storage room and showers outside. That’s OK – if you can leave after one week, like me.
After settling in it was time to explore Tokyo and use my camera a bit to bring back some evidence of Japanese insanity.
Later that night I had to say Good Bye to my friends because Klaus kicked me out of his spacious appartment. Thanks for that!
So I had to stay the last night in a so-called Capsule Hotel where I spent only 30 Euros for about two m3 (yes, cubic!) of room all for myself. Including TV and air condition. Coffin Hotel would be the more appropriate name. Now I know how it must feel to be buried alive.
The next day (day 7) I went back to Narita airport and Lufthansa nearly starved me to death because they only served two meals on a 12 hour non-stop flight. Which is not much when you haven’t eaten anything in the last 15 hours before getting on that plane. (The capsule hotel did not serve breakfast.)
P.S.: If you took the above too serious and haven’t noticed so far: I had a great time in Japan!