The trip to Japan was planned in its entirety over 3 sleepless nights. When I realized I was going to have a 15 day window between the job I just left and the one I was about to join, my first reaction was to setup a short trip to visit a friend in Europe. It was an offhand remark made by a friend over dinner that planted the seed and sent me in a completely different direction. (Thanks, Maya!)
Before the trip, Japan was a mystery to me. I’ve read Shogun, seen some wonderful anime and even spent time in my teens learning to fight with a Katana, but I never properly dived into its rich history and culture. In retrospect, what drew me to Asia in general and Japan specifically was how alien and foreign it all seemed. I wanted to expand my horizons and experience a cultural shock. What I was not expecting was to fall in love with the place.
The flight to Tokyo was with Uzbekistan airlines via Tashkent. Flying to the east, we were escaping the sunset and chasing sunrise, which made both noticeably faster. An odd experience seeing the sky colors change so swiftly. The flight to Tashkent was half empty so I caught some sleep, sprawled across 3 seats in the middle isle.
Traveling alone, I found myself more open to meeting new people than usual. It was only day zero but already I made friends with a nice Israeli-American girl during lunch in Ben-Gurion airport and had a fateful encounter with Gleb – the Canadian-Russian-Israeli who was going to spend the next 3 days with me. We also met 2 Israeli girls on their way to Singapore and India, respectively.
There was also this guy:
(I am sure, dear reader, that you will be picking up on a trend here – all the pictures of me are either blurry or out of focus. This is going to be a running theme for the entire trip. The fault lies with me – I forget that my camera is hard to operate with its customized focus settings. Though that doesn’t excuse the fails with the smartphone, Gleb.)
All in all, the flights were a great start to a very promising trip.
Japan day 0: airports and flights (You are here)
Japan day 1: Tokyo [Asakusa and Odaiba]
Japan day 2: Tokyo [Imperial Palace, Yoyogi park, Shibuya]
Japan day 3: trains, Nikko and Robot Restaurant