We set off early in the morning to the Chitose Airport. Again the traffic and the noise, even at rush hour, don't seem too daunting. Everyone seems incredibly polite on the road and honking is at a minimum. Security at the airport is odd: the undersides of the cars are checked, but not the insides; we’re scanned by hand-held metal detectors, but our luggage isn’t scanned or opened.
I must admit I was apprehensive about the radio communications after our struggles with the accent on arrival
Nagoya sits just south of a mountain range so we had to descend quickly into the city. It wasn’t too cloudy under 5000’, but it was definitely hazy. The only way we made out the runway at 6 miles out was because we were on the glideslope. This airport was seemingly in the middle of a giant metropolis
The rest of the crew was waiting (and to our chagrin had seen our botched landing) so we headed out to Tokyo. Tokyo doesn’t have a viable general aviation airport, so we would have to take a couple hour Shinkansen bullet train from Nagoya. We were all excited about seeing these trains, their efficiency, and their speed. Paul Mauguin, working for Peter Steeger, had met us at the airport and took us to the station until we boarded. Again it was an example of the excellent service Peter’s Petair Company was providing.
The bullet train didn’t disappoint. They’re sleek, clean, and yes, very fast
We ate at a small Vietnamese place that served up tasty tapas in a fun atmosphere. It felt good to be in Tokyo and we had quite a sense of accomplishment.
The following day we wanted to combine some sightseeing with our most necessary chore: laundry. Getting vague instructions from the receptionist on where we could find a laudromat, we set off in the same direction as the fish market that we wanted to visit anyway. Finding the Laundromat was pure luck
Afterwards we went for a walk from our hotel to the Imperial Garden. That put us by some of the massive downtown skyscrapers. Again I was impressed with how quiet the city was in comparison to what I’d expected. Somehow there just wasn’t much noise. Tokyo had been awarded the 2020 Olympic Games only a couple days prior, so there were still lots of posters out promoting it as a candidate city. It brought back memories of our China family vacation in 2001 when we were in Beijing as it was announced they would host the 2008 games
On this night we also had a group dinner with the other crews. The restaurant was seemingly out of cliché movie set with each party behind paper screen doors, the seating on cushions at low tables with shoes removed, and the wait staff attractive and attentive ladies in kimonos. The food and presentation were excellent as we moved from sashimi courses to individual table grills. There was also all-you-can drink beer, wine, and sake, so that helped warm everyone up. When we had to leave, we went back to the group’s hotel and closed down that bar as well. I’m really starting to like our group, as it’s a fun mix of lively personalities and folks with interesting backgrounds.
On our last full day in Tokyo we decided to do an organized bus tour to get out a bit further. The tour basically only served to reinforce my opinion that pre-recorded bus tours suck. Hop-on / hop-off services are okay, but here we were the only two non-Japanese speakers stuck with a crappy sporadic automated headset while the others enjoyed almost non-stop commentary
The Asakusa district is where you get inundated with cheesy souvenirs and can ride the runner-powered rickshaws. We opted for just some people watching and that gave us a good enough impression. Fun for us was also riding the metro. By 2020 Tokyo has a long way to go to make things more bilingual. There was very little information in English and it took us quite a while to find out where we wanted to go and how to get there. We still don’t know if we were paying the right amount.
Routing from Chitose (RJCC) to Nagoya (RJNA):
CHE HWE V71 GTC V30 KMC V52 KCC at 12,000’.
Tokyo – Getting a Taste of the Metropolis
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Tokyo, Kanto, Japan