They've got free WIFI in the hotel lobby so I intend to partake. It was recommended in a lot of tour books and online thingies to buy a local sim card at the airport to use and avoid international roaming fees. I inquired, as well as asking about a sim card for the iPad. Yep, they have them, but you can't buy one - you have to hire it. They charge your credit card, then when you return it they'll reimburse you what you didn't use - about 3 weeks later. No prob - except they wanted to take A$530 per sim card. Sorry, WHAT?! Seriously?? So I decided to take my chances and try not to use the phone apart from text messages, and not use the internet except where I can get free WIFI. I knew Japan was going to be expensive, but still...
Managed to find my way from the airport onto the Narita Express train (after figuring out how to exchange my Japan Rail Pass voucher for the pass). Super fast and efficient, and not even fingerprints on the glass or silver bits. It took about an hour to get in, then I had to change trains and catch one to the local station (Ueno). This was after 10pm at night, and the trains were still chockers, mainly with business men. Got to my hotel unscathed and without any hassles, and my tiny room made me appreciate that my unit at home isn't that small after all. Talk about compact! No English speaking channels on TV, but I was in bed before midnight anyway. Up bright and early at 6am to check out (changing rooms today) and have brekkie. I asked for the English brekkie for today, just till my Japanese palate kicks in. They brought me a bowl of clear soup and a small plate of salad leaves with dressing and a lump of white stuff. Turns out it was potato salad. Of course. The staple breakfast of all English people. Then out came the bacon, omelette and toast. Ah, I didn't realize the potato salad was entree. For brekkie.
The Sumo Tournaments are only on six times a year, and of course October isn't Sumo Season. Insteady I organized to go to a Sumo Stable to watch them train. Just amazing! I didn't know where to look I must admit, but after spending a couple of hours warming up they starting doing real sumo wrestling. We were there for over three hours (just me and the two tour guides), got hundreds of photos, and even got a photo with the Sumo Master. As we were leaving some of the Sumo Trainee guys were in a walkway beside the stables and I got a photo taken with one of them. I was trying not to breathe 'cos they'd been sweating up a storm during the training, but he smelt like deodorant and/or aftershave. Same with the crowded train last night - maybe it's just us Westerners who stink, particularly in crowds! The Sumo Master also gave me and my tour guides a folded paper with Japanese writing on it as a gift. The guides told me it was a great honour, even for them to receive it. I can almost guarantee that this piece of paper will be one of the first things I manage to lose on the trip.
We went for a stroll round town afterwards. Visited a Shinto shrine that is apparently dedicated to guaranteeing romance, finding husbands/wives, and ensuring good relationships. I ran from there screaming. Had fresh sushi for lunch - none of this wussy cooked Western style sushi - all raw! It was delicious, and very filling, but I soldiered on and ate it all. I offered to shout my two tour guides lunch but they wouldn't be in it. Cost us 1000 yen each, which I think is about A$13.50. Have to change rooms at the hotel 'cos I'm joining the tour group now so I'm going to drop my bags off and probably go for a stroll around Ueno Park. It's supposed to be quite interesting and it's almost next door to the hotel. I'm not game to venture too far away 'cos we all know how tragically geographically challenged I am. I think Tokyo is NOT the place to get horrendously lost in. Hanoi and Cairo were bad enough. I could do with a nap, but I think the other girl may already be in the room. Probably best she doesn't find out the real me too soon!
Oh, and I didn't take that photo of the flag. This stupid blog won't let me continue till I include a photo, and I managed to pack my camera cord in my backpack. Somewhere. Hopefully...