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Planes, trains and the crazy Tokyo subway

We arrived in Tokyo around 8 am Tuesday, got through Customs without a hitch, and made our way through the airport to the ground transportation area. We had read on WikiTravel on the various ways to get from the airport to downtown (it is actually not as close as you would think it would be). A taxi seems convenient for a non-Japanese speaking foreign visitor who is exhausted and seemingly lost in a non-English speaking chaotic city, but is the most expensive, running you about 30,000 Yen (equivalent to a few nights stay in an average Tokyo hotel. Buses are cheap, but probably the most confusing option for an exhausted foreigner without any sense of location/direction. A train is convenient, fast, and although expensive, was the best fit for us. There was only one line, the JR line, that would take us to a station very close to our hotel in the Yotsuya area, and it cost us 6,200 Yen total (about $80), one way. But it was air-conditioned, comfortable, and scenic! The one-hour train ride from the airport to the hotel was pleasantly scenic, it was beautiful rural Japan. By the time we had gotten through the airport, Customs, figured out the train line, and almost missed our train because we didn’t realize our seats were specifically reserved in a certain car on the train, for which we were almost ½ a city block distance from and that the Japanese train line is punctual, runs on time, and will not wait for you – we then figured out how to get from the Tokyo stop on the JR line to the Yotsuya stop on the JR line (see crazy pic to realize the amazingness of this feat) and purchased our one-way tickets, got on board and were soon at a subway stop which was only a 5-minute walk from the hotel. We had done a tremendous amount of traveling and taken various modes of transportation over the past 24 hours – taxi ride to the Phuket airport, plane ride from Phuket to Bangkok, subway from the Bangkok airport to downtown Bangkok, subway ride back to the Bangkok airport, plane ride from Bangkok to Tokyo, Amtrak-style train from the Tokyo airport to the subway station with a transfer to our stop in Yotsuya. It was raining, the hotel didn’t start check-in until 3 pm, we got there at 12:30 pm, awesome. They let us leave our suitcases in the lobby, freshen up in the bathroom, and borrow an umbrella – we then headed next door for a margherita pizza and to kill some time. After a short nap to recharge our batteries, we headed out to look for dinner the old-fashioned way – the hotel didn’t have wifi, and Starbucks supposedly had wifi but was closed for the night. So we headed out down the street, umbrella in hand, hungry, searching for somewhere vegan-friendly to eat. We stumbled upon an indian restaurant, optimistically headed inside, and were pleasantly surprised; vegan-friendly options and above-average indian food! We passed out that night with full bellies and exciting plans to head to the Great Buddha in Kamakura the next day.

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