Sep. 11th, 2017

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Leaving Sunday morning is convenient because there's no traffic to speak of, and thus, an easy passage through Security. An easy flight to Toronto with barely enough time for the coffee cart to go around, and no delays landing in Pearson airport. Had a nice hike to the international terminal and our gate, and lunch at Lee's Kitchen, an "Asian plus burgers" place. Vastly overpriced, even for airport food, and though I enjoyed the steamed buns we ordered, Shoshanna wasn't pleased and left most of it to me. She got sushi later—tasty, but a pale shadow of the real thing that we'll be having in Japan. We'll be boarding in about 20 minutes, so this is the last note before we make it to Japan.

Now in Japan, 10,500 km (!!!) and 12 hours later. Nothing special to report about the flight, other than a bit of turbulence at the end. Enough that they had to stop serving breakfast midway through to protect the flight attendants. Fortunately, we'd already had our meal, but many others weren't so lucky.

Tokyo Haneda airport is clean, clear, and efficient, and well sign-posted in English, so we made it through Customs and Immigration in no time—though they scanned our fingerprints and our faces. We picked up our SIM card for Shoshanna's phone, so in a few hours, once we've had time to put our feet up, we'll be able to install it and have Japanese phone service. Hardest part was waiting in line, because we bought the card from Japan Air's baggage forwarding service (!)—great deal, but an odd marriage of services it seems—and they were quite busy with baggage. We decided not to get our Japan Rail pass until tomorrow, since we can apparently do it at the commuter rail station in Ueno, near where we'd be spending the night.

We're both sufficiently experienced travelers that managing a foreign train system on near-zero sleep wasn't a problem. Though I can't really take full credit for that: it's also really well sign-posted, and Shoshanna did a lot of up-front research. The only tricky part was navigating through Ueno Park once we got off the train, as it lay between us and our ryokan. It's a beautiful park, but lots of windy paths, so it took a bit of stopping and checking signposts to figure out where we were and where we were going. In the end, no problem reaching Katsutaro ryokan, though it was an extremely hot and humid evening, thus quite a shvitz getting there. It's a small and not particularly elegant place, but clean and comfortable. The older lady at the desk didn't have more than a few words of English, but we managed to communicate what was necessary.

We were fed well enough on the plane that I'm not at all hungry, so we probably won't go out for dinner tonight. The ryokan doesn't offer breakfast, so we'll probably eat at the train station tomorrow on our way to Hiroshima —which, given that this is Japan, isn't nearly so dire as it might sound.

Tomorrow will be our first actual day of tourism. More later!


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