We got on the road at 8:15 am on July 8th, our lovely neighbour Evelyn driving us to the airport at this rather ungodly hour. By the time it comes to get out of the house for a big trip like this I am just soooo ready to just leave!
Plane to Detroit was teeny & on time. Easy hop. One of our favourite parts of the trip is the psychedelic walkway in the Detroit airport :)
We walked half of the Detroit airport looking for a place for lunch & ended-up with Italian food (I put my food down at the faux Japanese, so close to the real thing). Charlie needed one last fix of American cuisine, too (joke intended). Then we settled-in to wait... and wait... and...
The plane to Japan was about 1 1/2 hours late :( They were coming in from Amsterdam & that flight was late, sigh. Then, after boarding, we sat there for over an hour because they found some people with more money than they declared. Huh. This was a new thing to us. There were 2 special security guys stationed on the ramp to the plane who asked you how much money you were leaving the country with. We'd been warned to be honest because 4 people had been removed from the previous flight for lying... We were honest & they believed us. No idea the mechanism for discovering who was lying, but more folks were removed from our flight, including luggage, which was pretty time-consuming. After at least an hour on the plane, we finally took off. At least we weren't worried about making connections!
The movies-on-demand thing on the airplane makes it so much easier to pass the 11-12 hour flight. Just to wax nostalgic a bit, on our first trip to Japan 8 years ago we had neither electronics nor personalised movies to pass the time. I remember one of the movies shown to the whole plane was the movie version of a Lemony Snicket book that we had determined (from reading it) was unsuitable for Brendan (he was 11 on this trip). Big sigh. On that trip we brought along a few paperback books and passed them around the 3 of us. And ran out of reading material halfway through. In Japan. That was interesting... trying to entertain an 11-year-old with no books. We had brought some card games & then bought some Kamen Rider Den-O kids books, which stretched my beginner Japanese skills to read to him. And they call them the "the good ol' days"...
The flight to Narita Airport was about 11 1/2 hours, so Brendan & I started out reading (I am working my way back through Gail Carriger's "Parasol Protectorate" & he's reading H.P. Lovecraft to get ideas for his upcoming, new D&D campaign- be warned, guys :) and then turned to films after the first meal was served. Charlie filled-out customs forms & watched both the "Exotic Marigold Hotel" movies, which he'd hoped to do. Brendan started with the most recent Iron Man film & I saw "Big Hero 6" which I really liked! I'd had no idea there was a Japanese conection to the movie. Then Brendan & I decided to watch "Thor: the Dark World" for the first time ever, in Japanese (I have an earphone splitter), which was really fun. Then I watched "The Box Trolls" & he tried to sleep. Charlie & I have learned that we can relax, but not sleep on this long flight. And so we passed a relatively easy flight to Japan.
There was a huge fuss deplaning because so many folks were trying to catch connecting flights. Delta was doing their best to funnel folks in the right directions for Manila & Ho Chi Minh City. It was very nice not to be part of that stampede. Saw one of my favourite signs int he world (it says "welcome home" in Japanese :).
Got through immigrations, got our luggage, got through customs, & we were ready to buy our bus tickets to our hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
The wait was just 40 minutes (relatively short for this trip :) & I got us some of our fave Japanese beverages.
And when I went to buy Kit Kats for the trip into town, and was going to buy boring ones, the lady at the kiosk pointed out the fancy-flavour ones, which I had missed (had been up for well past 24 hours at this point...). I was very grateful & she said you can't even get these flavours in the department stores, just the airports these days. Introducing Red Bean & Sakura Matcha Kit Kats:
We all nearly conked-out on the bus ride in to Tokyo. It was 7:10 pm (6:10 am by our body time) and dark outside. Brendan slept most the way, & I kept nodding-off, but got to see the landmarks that make arriving in Tokyo so much fun, like the ferris wheel on Odaiba. The trip was about an hour, then we got off the bus, collected our luggage, & headed up to the 20th floor of the Century Southern Tower in Shinjuku to check-in to our hotel. We stay here every trip now, it's just so easy to get here & you can get anywhere in Japan from Shinjuku Station (assuming you don't get lost in the station...). And it's directly across from Takashimaya Times Square- shopping!
So we settled-in, I showered, & we were all in bed by 10:45 local time. I woke up a few times, but went back to sleep pretty easily. Charlie & I were awake by 6:45 am, a respectable amount of time sleeping considering the jet lag. On to our adventures on Day 2!!