Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tokyo for Christmas: Day One

Well, we made it to Tokyo! For those of you who don't know, our oldest son, Nick who serves in the United States Air Force, is stationed at Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo Japan. Since this is Nick's last year in Tokyo, we decided that we'd better plan a trip over here.

We left the comforts of our humble home on the range on Sunday afternoon. This past week we have been feverishly working on the "world's longest and plagued-with-the-most-breakdowns" corn harvest. Dan the Man and Chris delivered the last truck full of corn to the elevator around noon on Sunday. Dan the Man wasn't sure we would finish harvest before we had to leave, but by God's good grace, we did.

Dan the Man and I drove to Denver on Sunday afternoon where we would spend the night since our flight took off early in the morning on Monday. We stayed at a funky hotel I found online called ALoft. I'll have to get pictures of it when we return. We're staying there the night that we get back as well. The hotel is very modern and hip. The bed was comfy and the room was clean.

We didn't sleep very well, due to the fact that Dan the Man tossed and turned all night long wondering what time it was since he didn't want to over sleep and miss our flight. We got up at 4 am so we would have time to shower before our shuttle left for the airport.

One a side note: Once we stayed in Denver the night before an early flight we had to Mexico and during the night the electricity for the hotel went out. Luckily we woke up when the fire alarms went off in the halls so we knew that there was no electricity so the alarm clock was not going to work. Unfortunately, I had unpacked most of our stuff because I wanted to repack it in the morning. I ended up repacking in the dark. What a nightmare that was. I don't think we'll forget that one. We also had to shower and get ready in the dark!

The shuttle was pretty packed so Dan the Man and I did not get to sit next to each other. I sat next to this man who was pretty talkative. He was just returning from a 60 day stay in China where he was teaching rangeland management. What a coincidence since we are converting our operation to a grass based farming/ranching operation. Needless to say, this commonality we shared gave us a great conversation. I also learned that he lived in Montana and knew someone I went to high school with. He actually worked with this classmate for 6 years, I think is what he said. What a small world, especially when you consider how small my high school was. I think there were like 54 people in my graduating class!

Anyway, our flight was delayed because of fog in San Francisco, which is where we would catch our connecting flight to Japan. We only had a couple of hours between our flights and neither one of us had been to the San Francisco airport before so we were a little nervous about catching our flight. As we were waiting for our flight to board at DIA I was scoping out the other passengers looking for someone who might be traveling to Japan. Dan the Man said I probably wouldn't find someone who was going to Tokyo, but I was determined to find someone that we could follow around when we got to San Francisco.

There was this younger man, actually kid to us, who looked to be Japanese, sitting across from us in the waiting area for our gate. I told Dan the Man it would be nice to find someone like that who could show us where to go. I have no problem talking to strangers and asking questions. Dan the Man would rather poke himself in the eye with a red hot poker than to ask a stranger a question, especially someone who looks like they may have an accent! When we found our seats on the plane that young man was sitting right next to us. So I asked him if he was going anywhere from San Francisco and wouldn't you know it, he was headed to Tokyo! I told him that's where we were headed too and that we didn't know where to go once we got to San Francisco and asked him if we could tag along with him. He kindly agreed to help us get to our destination!

His name was Kohay. He is a graduate student at CU in aerospace engineering and was going home for the Christmas break. Kohay didn't really know where we were to go in San Francisco, but he got on his cell phone while we were still on the plane and found out what gate we needed to go to. Come to find out we had to leave the secured area of the airport to get to our gate and had to go through security again. I'm sure we would have figured things out eventually without Kohay's help, but I was certainly glad to have him leading the way! He stayed with us once we arrived in Tokyo as well until we got our baggage and knew what all we had to do to get through immigration and customs.

The flight itself from San Francisco to Tokyo was incredibly long. We were on the air for about 12 hours or so, felt like a lifetime. My butt and back were killing me by the time we got off the plane. We were served two meals on the plane and got to eat Japanese food! I don't know why I was surprised that it was Japanese food, duh, we were on Japan Airlines! The food was quite good actually. We had chicken teriyaki for supper and some sort of creamy soup (like cream of rice) with shrimp in it for breakfast. I especially loved it when they brought you a steaming hot washcloth to clean your hands before the meals. Nice touch, wish they did that in the states! I also loved being served piping hot tea after the meal. Yum!

The other treat for me on the plane was being able to watch the movie "Julie and Julia"! Loved it!! Loved it so much I'm hoping they have it on our flight home and if they do I'm going to watch it again! It's one of those movies that won't be received very well in a house full of men, so I'd better take advantage of seeing it again now while I have the chance! It would definitely be classified as a "chick flick" in my house!

Got my first glimpse of Mt. Fuji as we landed. The sun was setting behind it and it all seemed so surreal! I was thinking, "I'm in JAPAN!" Crazy...

We touched down in Tokyo around 4:30 pm (Tokyo time). By the time we got though immigration and customs, got our luggage and found Nick it was about 5:30 pm. I'd never been so happy to see Nick in my life. It took us over 3 hours to drive from the airport to the base. More driving... now my butt was starting to go numb from sitting on it for so long! We drove through Tokyo which was a sight to see in itself. What a huge city! Lights every where, crazy traffic, Disney Tokyo all lit up, the worlds highest ferris wheel lit up, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow bridge lit up at night... Kind of reminded me of Vegas with all the lights.

Seems like there wasn't a straight road anywhere. All the roads are extremely curvy. Dan the Man and I both wore a hole in the floor board with our left foot trying to stomp on the "brake!" LOL! Yikes! So glad it was Nick driving and not one of us, especially Dan the Man, who makes me nervous driving in Denver! It felt extremely bizarre driving on the wrong side of the road. Every time we would come around a corner, I would flinch thinking that the oncoming traffic was in our lane!

We finally arrived at the base and had to go through more security. We were getting pretty good at showing our passports and having our photos taken by now! Finally at 9:30 Tokyo time we arrived at our hotel here on the base. What a sight for sore eyes and butts and backs! What a pleasant surprise for go up to our room and find that it is a nice suite complete with kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom (and all for the price of $41 a night, what a deal). We had been up for 24 hours are were very excited to "hit the hay."

I woke up at 5 am, not much earlier than my usual time, had my coffee and computer time and was pleasantly renewed! Nick came and picked us up this morning and we grabbed a bite for breakfast, went to his place for a little while, went to the commissary for groceries, went to some other place to find brochures on the "touristy" things to do, came back to the hotel, ate lunch, watched a little tv, rested, took a nap, planned which train trips we want to do and places we want to go sight seeing, had dinner and am now ready for bed.

First impressions of Japan are the friendly people and cleanliness. Wish Americans were as friendly and polite and respectful as the Japanese. I also wish we had the pride and respect for things that the Japanese do. Everything is amazingly clean, groomed and beautiful.

Can't wait for tomorrow. Pictures to come, I promise!

Sayonara for now,
the Country Chicken Girl in Japan!


  1. I've been enjoying all your posts. Glad you made it to Tokyo safely!

  2. Remember if you don't sign your comment before you post it, I won't be able to see who they are from. So thank you "Above Anonymous Reader" I am glad you are enjoying my posts!