Well, this was it. I woke up at 6am, tried (unsuccessfully) to get back to sleep, and eventually packed all of my stuff into the backpack, and checked out of the hotel. Quick train from Shinjuku to Ueno, then the Keiyo line to the airport. I just kind of jumped on the train at the station, pretty confident I knew where I was going. About 45 minutes into the train-ride, I had a sudden bout of anxiety – if the train wasn’t going to the airport, I’d be in deep trouble (I’d miss my plane). But it was going the right way, so I got to the airport, checked in, and found my ticket had been canceled.

You know how airlines say “reconfirm 72 hours before your flight”? They mean it. I didn’t reconfirm, so they canceled my tickets. Fortunately, the flight wasn’t full, so they were able to re-book me, and from there on, it was just a matter of time until I made it back to Vancouver. Met some new people on the flight back, including some students from a Seattle highschool, who were on a trip to Japan with their instructor. The layovers were pretty deadly, but I met people to talk to, and that helped the time to pass quickly.

Dave’s 1994 Japan “Hostel Preference” List (In order of Best to Worst)

  1. Yoyogi Y.H. – Tokyo
  2. Awara Onsen Y.H.
  3. Kyoto Utano Y.H.
  4. Hiroshima Y.H.
  5. Nagasaki Y.H.
  6. Gifu Y.H.
  7. Yokohama Y.H.

Strange Notes From My Trip:

  • Vending machines really DO sell everything over here. There are THOUSANDS of drink vending machines, selling dozens of different drinks (hot and cold). The price is almost a uniform 110 yen. Lots of vending machines for cigarettes, film (for cameras), packs of tissue paper, etc. My award for the strangest vending machine, was one outside a bookstore, holding all “smut” magazines. I guess it’s for people too shy to buy one inside the store.
  • Odd methods of parking cars in Japan. Since space is at a premium, you almost never see car parkades like you’d see in North America. One style of Japanese car-park uses a rotary system, with each car on a platform, working something like a large, thin ferris-wheel. As the owners of the cars return, the attendant “rotates” the correct car back to the lower position for the driver to reclaim. The other main style uses a “cart” system, where each car is put on a sliding “tray”, which an elevator “stores” in the building above. Cool!
  • The reason for electricity being so expensive in Japan probably has something to do with Japan Rail using electricity to drive all of their trains, and from all of the Pachinko places running their neon flashing lights.
  • Japan is a very noisy place. Everything plays music of some sort, or talks to you. I make this point for bank machines. All bank machines will talk to you when you use them. In loud voices. Every time I attempted to use my card in a machine which was not on the network, the bank machine would announce the fact to the world at large, in loud, blaring voices. Needless to say, I tried to avoid bank machines in busy areas.
  • In spite of Japan having a lot of “foreign” influences in their culture, the Japanese are still not very used to seeing foreigners (with the exception of Tokyo). I got a lot of strange looks in my travels. I was something of a celebrity it seems. My 3 weeks of fame?
    Don’t play pachinko and expect to win.
  • Japanese 1-yen coins are as useless in Japan as pennies are here. They’d probably melt down to make pop cans or something though. On second thought, perhaps they’re melting down used pop cans to MAKE 1-yen coins?