Ohayou! I had a fantastic first day!
My journey really began at the airport. I could not wait for my cultural experience to start, so found a Japanese noodle bar at Amsterdam airport. They were so busy I had to eat my chicken ramen standing up, I was the only European amongst about thirty Japanese; needless to say I made a fool of myself with the chopsticks! After waiting in Amsterdam for a couple of hours I found my gate and went through boarding customs with the Captain, I was finishing my water and he said, "last droppy droppy"; this didn't reassure me. I was lucky enough to be sat next to a very nice Japanese couple on the plane, after glancing at eachother frequently for a while we spoke, it went something like this:
Me: I don't understand
This lady will be hereon referred to as Super Nice Lady.
When the flight staff brought around the meals a nice stewardess spoke to me a while about my trip and she was really excited for me, she handed over a tray of all different sorts of strange looking food, and I ate all of it! Every last bit! Super Nice Lady showed me where to put which sauce and then she and her husband showed me how to use chopsticks, after a while (slow learner) they had me picking up all sorts of things!
Despite the fact neither of us spoke much of the other's language we talked for a good hour or so, thanks to a little help from a certain lonely planet. Then her tour leader Ayumi came over and we ended up chatting into the early hours of the morning, so much for sleep! I eventually got to sleep and woke up very groggy, only to be presented with another meal, which of course I lapped up (but more out of politeness this time).
When the plane landed I said goodbye to my friends and headed out into Japan. Oh, and their names were Mr and Mrs Nakamura by the way, and yes I think they were Hiro's parents. I got through customs and luggage without much hassle, two security guards spoke to me as I waited for the bus outside the airport, they were really friendly and asked me where I was going. The bus journey to my hotel was about an hour and a half, I watched the country side roll by and eventually arrived in the city. The hotel is pretty swanky, it seems to be quite popular for businessmen and, I have to say it, the toilets are cool; you can change the temperature of the seat and shoot water up your bum. I only had a few hours until meeting the rest of group and was a bit bewilded where to go, it's a whole different world. I decided to go for a LONG walk, as I walked things got quieter and quieter; it seems the street outside the hotel is the hotspot of the area.
I already have an extreme fascination about how people look here, the younger ones look so cool, particularly their hairstyles. Most of the people are really friendly and helpful and what I find quite surprising is that they don't even give you a second glance, especially considering I saw very few non-Japanese in the streets of Tokyo; I love that though.
I found a bookshop where naturally I couldn't read w***-all, in hindsight I wish I had bought something on Hiragana/Katakana (Japanese alphabets), I've got no chance of learning how to read and write as there's thousands of characters but it would be cool to learn some. After exploring a bit and doing plenty of smiling I went back to the hotel to meet up with the group and accidentally walked in on a ceremony (maybe a modern wedding). I sat down and waited for a while, it passed 6pm with no one in sight and I was beginning to think I was in the wrong place, and I was; they were on the other side of the hall. There are a couple of guys from Leeds, one from a Nottingham and a couple others from England, a few Canadians (oh how I wish they were Terrance and Phillip), a couple of French, one from New York and a couple Australian... you get the picture. We all had a meal together and got to know one another, they all seem cool.
The jetlag was starting to hit me hard so I don't think I'll get to see Tokyo at night (except from my window), which was a bit silly of me as I didn't get much sleep anyway, probably because I was trying to sleep when it was still the afternoon in England; but when I did sleep I slept HARD, my Canadian roommate said my alarm went off for a good ten minutes.
In the morning went to see a huge shrine in Harajuku where a LOT of people go to pray (Sunday morning) and witnessed a wedding ceremony. You had to cleanse your hands and face before entering and I cleansed myself good and proper. Then we all split up; a few of us took the train around to a few other districts of Tokyo, each with its own charm, one of which was Shibuya which had an amazing festival taking place in the street and lots of karate-like dancing. After we were all danced out we explored down some side streets and realized how ridiculously pricey things were here, particularly shoes.
I was sad to leave Tokyo so soon but looking forward to what lay ahead.
Most useless item so far: Infatable pillow - they had one on the plane
Most useful item so far: Retractable pencil - just thin enough to press the reset button on my mp3 player (which froze)
Item I wish I had brought: E45 - SORE MOUTH