Saturday, August 23, 2008

first day in japan

well, it was an adventurous first 24 hours in the land of the rising sun (or, as masami explained to me, it's the land from which the sun rises).
i went through customs no problem, all foreigners are photographed and finger-printed. a bit paranoid, but whatever. I went to the train station at the airport to exchange my voucher for the foreigner train pass, which was a breeze, until i told the girls that i was planning on getting to Fukuoka that night. they looked at each other and i think they were trying not to laugh. they explained that either all the trains had left or were full. bummer. so i couldn't get to where i was going until the next day. i took the train to Osaka, and bought a couple of phone cards to try and call my hotel in fukuoka to cancel. i could not figure out the phones! at last i got a hold of masami and asked her if she could call my hotel to let them know i wouldn't make it, and called the hostel in osaka, near the train station and they had a bed left for me. wee! crisis averted.
the hostel in osaka, called shin-osaka youth hostel, was very clean and nice. there is a bath but i was too chicken to use it. there were detailed rules with pictures and everything but i was still afraid to mess up. meg says it's very complicated for something that is supposed to be relaxing. i went for the western-style shower. however, my bed was a japanese-style futon on a tatami mat with a buckwheat pillow. this was very comfortable. however due to jet-lag my sleep was confused and i woke up at 4 am. this would have been 4 pm back in canada.
i got my things ready in the dark and tried to leave. ha, they block the elevator and the stairs until 6 am, which is check out time. my shinkansen was at 6 am. luckily one of the staff arrived a bit early and let me out.
the shinkansen ride was very beautiful. the japanese countryside is exactly what you'd picture, steep hills that are lush and green with rice paddies in the valleys.
i will write more about fukuoka later, right now i am starving and i'm going to eat some of this hotel breakfast.

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