Beginning the journey in Japan

Other than a drive from Houston to Nacogdoches, and a flight from Houston to Japan, I really have not had much chance to relax. The past month or so has been a blur. Things I’ve had to do include:

  • Work on visa paperwork so I can stay in Japan longer than 90 days
  • Finish up work at the old job
  • Pack, clean and sell stuff
  • Meet with friends for lunches and dinners

For my trip, I had been debating whether or not to upgrade my flight on Continental from economy to BusinessFirst.  I’m glad I did, and here’s why. I had three checked bags, a carry-on and a briefcase. The checked bags fees were as follows:

  • Every checked bag after the first, free bag (up to 50 lbs): $50
  • Each bag between 50 – 70 lbs: $100

My bags included one 35 lb bag, one 61 and one 62 lb. That would’ve been $300 or so in bag fees! My upgrade was $500 + 25,000 mile or something, so I opted for that. If I hadn’t, I would’ve been in a middle seat for the 14-hr flight. And I may not have sat next to the cute girl who kept me company. Click for the full gallery.

Lobster bisque and a piece of chicken

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really been nonstop. Of course, once I arrived in Tokyo, things didn’t slow down. I stayed with Tomo and Stephanie, my two best friends in Japan.

Arriving Friday night, I met Stephanie at her local station, we dropped my bags off at the apartment, then I headed back to the station to meet up with Yoshinori Kawamoto, a music composer for Namco Bandai Games. We went out to Akihabara, had a drink, ate some food, then Tomo joined us and we went out for tonkotsu ramen.

For those of you who think, “Oh, ramen? That stuff is crap!”, you obviously have only had shitty ramen like Maruchan that costs 10 – 15 cents in America. The ramen here is delicious and constitutes a meal.

So then we parted ways, and Tomo and I went back to his apartment to meet up with Stephanie. We talked for a while, then headed to sleep around 2 a.m.

Awaking at 10 a.m., I showered, did some paperwork and e-mailing, then I headed back out to Akihabara to meet up with my friend Tatsuya. We went out for ramen (again!), then walked around and looked at some electronics. I had to buy a power adapter so I can use some of my American plugs in Japan.

Around 4 p.m. I returned to Tokyo, where Tomo and I went out and looked at cell phones. I’m proud to say I’m the new owner of a N-01A phone from NEC with service provided by NTT DoCoMo. With a two-year contract, the handset was about $140. I’ll try and do a more detailed post later about my phone and various things.

For dinner that night, Tomo, Stephanie and I met up with their friends Sunny and Mike. We went out to a Jamaican place with some amazing food. Afterward, a trip to Big Echo karaoke was made whereupon we sung and drank for two hours. I think my best song is Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash.”

Heading back to the apartment, I repacked some things and got my belongings in order so I could leave by 9:15 a.m. to catch the trains to head out to the area of Japan I now call home: Shunan.

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