Japan 2010:
Day 1 - Arrival


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Japan 2010: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Osaka & Kobe] [Day 3 - Kyoto & Nara] [Day 4 - Hiroshima] [Day 5 - Tokyo Tower] [Day 6 - Mt. Fuji] [Day 7 - Tokyo] [Day 8 - Ginza]

Saturday, February 20: We flew to Chicago then boarded an All Nippon Airways flight to Tokyo. We got our first taste of Japan when the snack service started, with these tasty rice cracker snacks. The ANA napkins appeared to be make of some sort of grass paper, and had a light smell of hay or grass. No, we don't ordinarily sniff napkins.
Our meal also had Japanese influences, with cold noodles, wasabi, and seaweed, plus rice and pork for the entree. ANA offers free wine with their meal and snack service, so we indulged. Dessert afterward was a cup of vanilla Haagen-Dazs.
Many hours into our 13-hour flight, we passed over Alaska, the only state we hadn't yet visited. (We got there in 2012!)
The glaciers were stunning, of course, and the detail was amazing even from 32,000 feet.
Here are more mountains.
This snow-covered peak had at least five different trails leading to the center of the snow field, so we guessed that it was either a mountain reached by helicopter that guests can walk around on, or that there really are five different ways to hike to the top.
The awesome onboard flight monitor kept us apprised of our location. Here we are flying over Alaska ...
... and to be more specific, Ketchikan is to our left. You can see that it is on a body of land surrounded by a ring of water ...
... and here it is in person. If you look closely, the ring of water is in the top half of this photo, stretching from one side of the photo to the other. Ketchikan was barely visible to us in the top center.
Sunday, February 21: Even though it remained sunny for our entire flight, as we chased the sun westward and crossed the international date line, we managed to snooze for a few hours. We awoke to this breakfast of tuna fish salad, melon, and mushy gnocchi. Thank goodness for Milano cookies and the bacon on top of the gnocchi, or Debbie would have gone hungry.
Despite departing late due to icing in Chicago, we arrived early in Tokyo, flew through immigration, found our shiny new red suitcases, and were through customs in no time. We exchanged money and got our Japan Rail Passes quickly.
Exactly 45 minutes after we were scheduled to land, we were onboard the Narita Express.
It's a one-hour trip into Tokyo. We had green car (first class) rail passes so we rode in reserved seat comfort.
Hello, outskirts of Tokyo!
We transferred to the shinkansen (bullet train), grabbing a bento box and extremely delicious Royal Milk Tea during the 15 minute transfer. This bento box contained different types of veggies, two types of rice, a big mushroom, some beans, a couple of slices of ham, and a white flower-shaped slice of something that tasted like salty jello.
It was a 2 1/2 hour train ride south to Kyoto as the sun was setting. We dozed most of the way.
We arrived at Kyoto Station, figured out which way it was to our hotel, then checked in to the Matsumoto Ryokan. The first room they gave us was a 6+3 room, where the numbers indicate the number of tatami mats for the main room and side room.
After twice checking with the front desk, we finally were able to explain that we had paid for the 8+4 room, so our room was changed to this one instead.
The extra tatami mats make the room much more spacious.
Here is the view of the side room from the main room ...
... and here is a better view of the side room/entry way.
The bathroom was really tiny, but some rooms do not come with a bath so you have to use the common one. We're not big fans of sharing bathrooms, so this was fine with us.
Here are our towels, toothbrushes, and yukata (cotton robes). The blue knots on top are the ties (obi) for the yukata.

Finally settled into our room, we had some donuts we had picked up from Mr. Donut at Kyoto Station. We tried to buy beignets from Cafe du Monde, but they did not have any, and Mr. Donut was right next to it. We also had some hot Royal Milk Tea from the vending machine in our hotel.

Day 2 >


Japan 2010: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Osaka & Kobe] [Day 3 - Kyoto & Nara] [Day 4 - Hiroshima] [Day 5 - Tokyo Tower] [Day 6 - Mt. Fuji] [Day 7 - Tokyo] [Day 8 - Ginza]

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