Obscure, semi-useful practical information for budding diehard Japanophiles:
Did you know that Japan is now the cheapest country in Asia to send stuff home if your home is called California? It costs 1080 yen (US$10.50) to send a small packet (max two kgs) by sea. The next cheapest, Hong Kong, is HK$83 for 2kgs, which is US$11. Everywhere else I know is much, much more. Malaysia used to be my go-to place, but I threw up in my mouth when I saw their latest rate increases.
Did you know that if you want to fly between the capitals of the two biggest economies in Asia, Beijing and Tokyo, it’s cheapest to buy two separate flights on AirAsia.com, where each flight is over 6 hours? The fact that I didn’t do that means I am getting old. I did the next cheapest, which was still ridiculous: I flew via Manila, a solid 4+ hours from either place on Cebu Pacific Air.
I have flown Cebu Pacific Air maybe five times by now and every time they are sharks about checking onward tickets. Last time at the check-in counter they even had a proclamation printed and laminated from some government official declaring that it must be shown. You might want to look into a fake onward ticket.
There’s a new place to hitchhike from Tokyo’s Narita airport to town. The only highway parking area between the airport and Tokyo is Shisui, which has become a behemoth since the Shisui Premium Outlets opened up in the same parking lot. There are 200 yen(?) shuttle buses straight from the airport, but if you are just going to central Tokyo, you’ll have to balance that 200 yen with the 1030 yen, 80 minute, Keisei train. There are now JR express trains that cost 1500 yen to Shinjuku and take one hour (The train costs more in the reverse direction.)
Sleeping in or near airports
Tokyo airport police are now very lenient about letting people sleep in both of Tokyo’s airports. I didn’t have to show a ticket to prove I was flying out. The place to go in Narita is the staff area upstairs in Terminal 2. There is a staff area in Terminal 1 that is less secluded. Both are just a few rows of seats that have potted plants and signs saying they are for staff, but I didn’t notice any obvious staff on the long, soft, armrest-less benches. I slept well, and I am poor sleeper in the best of times.
The best place to sleep in Tokyo’s Haneda Airport is anywhere you can find space because everyone is sleeping there; AirAsia’s flight arrives after public transport has finished (whose fault is this?) I saw a pack of 15 people sleep in a row using their bags as a kind of bunker. Only in Japan would you not worry about someone stealing your bag. Otherwise, Haneda is either drafty or there just isn’t good hidden space. The other place to try is the edge of the terminal on the ground floor before you get to the parking lots. You might get some bench space.
If you don’t mind paying 2000 yen you can stay in the so-called Airport Hostel that is about eight km from the airport, but Yama-san will pick you up for free. I did all three: I slept in both airports and I stayed with Yama-san, which I wrote about last time here with the bonus of the greatest Japanese music video ever. For Japan it’s a very good deal, though I was ready to kill the idiot sleeping next to me. Let’s hope there’s a special place in hell reserved for those who type on their phones at 6am with the keypad volume on high. There has to be, right? What kind of inbred would do that? Same with the retards who have their incoming message tone on high. Once or twice, OK, but over and over? Have you gone deaf from your keypad volume?
Since when have so many travelers been raised by wolves? Traveling sucks, I’m telling you. Morocco, where I am now, is hearty confirmation since I came down with chicken pox, which is but one of a long line of curses I’ve endured on my visits here. That’s the next blog post.
I forgot to add this: conveyor belt sushi with even more automation than I was used to. The link is here if you can’t see it below.
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