Narita International Airport Terminal 1: Alcohol….Oh, Alcohol

Narita International Airport Terminal 1 entrance

Paying 1,000 Yen to the driver with tie, receiving a receipt, ending with taking a back seat, I was now ready to explore the Higashi Kanto Expressway. This was the same street I passed by for the first time after arriving in Tokyo a few days ago.

Taking 70 kilometer asphalt road and within an hour, I felt asleep along the two prefectures passed by JR Kanto Bus, namely Tokyo and Chiba. I woke up when the bus had arrived at Narita International Airport and stopped for a while at Terminal 2 to dropping off some of its passengers. Now I was stricken with worries when the bus had passed Terminal 1. But I was trying to stay calm and go with the flow of bus.

I was lucky when I saw Terminal 1 nameboard far ahead. Yups, it turned out that my stop point hadn’t been missed.

On 4:41 p.m., I was dropped off at the drop-off zone by JR Kanto Bus driver, then rushed into one of Narita’s entrances. I was increasingly confident with the presence of Peach Aviation logo on logos board of airline which operating in Terminal 1.

“I’m at the right terminal”, I cheerfully thought.

But another challenge came, I was still five hours away from scheduled departure. The self-check-in counter hadn’t let me print my boarding pass yet.

“Okay, I would just wait”, I patient myself.

Two and a half hours of waiting at a departure hall seat, I finally managed to do self-check-in process on 19:25 hours. I grabbed a boarding pass and steadily stepped towards the gate. Upon arrival, it turned out that the gate was still not ready.

Peach Aviation counter.
World Sky Gate_Narita as the new branding of Narita International Airport.
Narita International Airport Terminal 1 floor plan.

Until finally, I decided to look for a minimarket to hunt for dinner. I found Lawson in one of the corridors and entered without a second thought. I quickly took a pack of onigiri for 248 yen and the cheapest mineral water for 103 yen and took it to the cashier.

After paying, I continued to walk to the observation deck, then sat in one of its chairs to enjoy the plane traffic of various airlines which were busy going back and forth at Narita International Airport. The outdoor observation deck was blown by a cold winter wind that consistently chilled the body.

Even though it was uncomfortable because it was cold, I still tried to enjoy dinner, still sat on one of the observation deck benches and continued to be fascinated by the pair of take-off and landing activities of large planes.

I kept trying to show my best smile while chewing onigiri, not wanting to be outdone by happy expressions of passangers around me when they were enjoying restaurant foods with nice aroma which inhabited along the side of observation deck.

The last piece of onigiri was complete. I then opened my bottled mineral water. I opened its lid and without hesitation drank it like a thirsty person. A mouthful of water finally smoothly glided down in my throat. But my eyes bulged because my nose was stung by a foreign smell. A warm sensation enveloped along my throat. And finally, automatically, I profusely coughed.

Not pure mineral water!…A clear drink clearly contained alcohol in it. Finally I could feel the sensation of alcohol even though it was accidentally….I didn’t drink alcohol before.

I still didn’t want to throw away the alcoholic bottled water and put it in my backpack. If later it wasn’t confiscated at the screening gate, let it be a memory while in Osaka.

Finally, after enjoying the airport traffic, I immediately headed to the gate and prepared myself to fly. HHmmhh… As soon as I entered the gate, the delay information immediately approached. Out of curiosity, I directly asked the female ground staff about the validity of this delay. She confirmed that Peach Aviation flight number MM6320 did experience a delay in arriving at Narita and I would have to wait another hour later.

Pretty simple boarding pass.
@Kids park, waiting for the plane to coming for pick me up.

I spent the next hour extra with closing my eyes in the waiting room. I sat next to Kids Park near Terminal 1 gate….

Tokyo Station: Finding Trail to JR Expressway Bus Stop

Preparing to leave Harajuku Station.

A little past two in the afternoon. I started leaving Meiji Jingū via Harajuku Station. I retraced Yamanote Line, turning south through Shinagawa District, then back to north. It covered a distance of fifteen kilometers and costed 200 Yen.

I arrived at Tokyo Station a little past three-thirty in the afternoon and was dropped off at platform number four near Marunouchi North Exit. Maranuochi itself is a business district located in west of Tokyo Station.

I continued down an underground passage and kept looking for directions to get out at exit gate located closest to JR Expressway Bus Stop. Since morning, I have decided to use bus to movimg from downtown to Narita International Airport.

Once down the stairs then I was faced with a long corridor. Right on the wall in front of the last step was a wide yellow signboard. The sign directed me to exit at Yaesu South Exit. That was the closest exit from the JR Expressway Bus Stop. Do you know about Yaesu?….In the opposite direction of Maranuochi then Yaeshu is an area located at east of Tokyo Station.

Location directions in the corridors of Tokyo Station.
Those who don’t want to bring a backpack, please rent a locker.
This is rental locker at Tokyo Station.
Where are you currently?
Automatic ticketing vending machine.

The commercial side of this station is so dominant. Along the underground passage, the station sell locker facilities to passengers. These storage facilities are known as Coin Lockers. This locker type has a rental price which varies from 600 to 1,000 Yen per day.

Along the corridors of Tokyo Station was so crowded. I kept stepping and starting to get disoriented. Unknowingly, I have arrived at Shinkansen Transfer North Gate. Until finally a station staff helped to direct me to the nearest exit. For his services, I finally managed to get out at Yaesu Central Exit.

Yups….Arrived at Yaesu Central Exit.

The time lag for my flight schedule was still long. I also didn’t want to be at the airport too long. So I decided to take a seat in the courtyard of Tokyo Station. I continued to observe the activities of Tokyo residents who seemed very busy. While enjoying the busyness, I consistently opened the skin of guazi and chewed it seed by seed. And because I couldn’t find a trash can, I threw the peel of guazi on the roots of ornamental plants. I didn’t think that an officer to notice my bad behavior. I responded quickly, before he came to me, I showed him the half-filled guazi packaging. Miraculously, he just smiled and nodded. In fact, if he reprimanded me, then I was ready to take that organic trash again.

Guazi skin problem is over….

I got up from my seat and headed for JR Expressway Bus Stop. Arriving at the location, I immediately entered a long queue at the number seven bus platform. Exactly at four o’clock in the afternoon, I boarded JR Bus Kanto which was typical white with blue color.

I handed over 1,000 Yen to the driver, who was very well-groomed and in a tie. After he gave me a receipt, I took the back seat.

Located at JR Expressway Bus Stop.
Let’s got in!

I was getting ready to head to Narita International Airport Terminal 1.

Writing Prayers and Wishes in Meiji Jingū

Get ready for second day of adventure in Tokyo @ Nakano Station platform.

The tragedy of losing my wallet at Nakano Station made me gulp in fear, it turned out that there was still a coward side behind my courage to explore the world. I calmed down for a moment by sipping drinking water from free water station at one of Nakano Station platforms.

The silver and yellow colored commuter of Chūō Line arrived, I took a step into a middle carriage and sat at long bench on left. I deliberately chose to sit right above a console grill heater. That was my habit while riding Japann’s trains which was slipping into the winter.

I continued to follow the Chūō Line towards east and then turned into south after changing to Yamanote Line at Shinjuku Station. Within twenty minutes, I arrived at Harajuku Station after traveling for about seven kilometers. I only had to pay 170 Yen for this trip.

Crossing the long corridor of Harajuku Station, I came out from West Exit directly opposite Meiji Jingū First Torii Gate on the right. But gosh……

Now that I’ve lost my right glove, how could I resist cold air if my equipment disappeared? I retraced my path when I exited the station platform and finally I found one of those gloves in the middle of corridor after automatic fare collection gates. I didn’t know why?, since this morning, I’ve been stuck losing things even though it were found again. Could this be the start of all surprising things ahead of my adventure?

Alright…Focused back to my steps…..

Now I was posing in front of Meiji Shrine gate. The Torii was so distinctive, the inspiration for a famous automotive company logo in “the Land of Samurai”. I walked through smooth gravel as the entrance to the temple. The path had a width of one meter on left side, combined with a one meter wide paving block path bordered by rope for exit route on the right. Meanwhile, in some parts, the path was bordered by bamboo fences which were neatly arranged as high as the waist of an adult.

In front of the gates of Meiji-jingumae Station “Harajuku” (Chiyoda Line) as part of Tokyo Metro Subway Network. But I didn’t take the Tokyo Metro.
In front of the Meiji Jingū Torii.
Sake drums (kazaridaru).
Wooden wine drums.

Meanwhile, an old officer removed leaves from road using a backpack-leaf blower. Leaves just needed to be pushed aside to road side and allowed to become natural compost, so environmentally friendly.

Within four hundred meters, on the right, I was blown away by neat arrangement of kazaridaru dedicated to Meiji-tennō and Shōken-kōgō. While right on the left side was an arrangement of wine drums made of wood.

Arriving at the main Torii of shrine, every visitor must wash their hands at Temizuya with water using a long-stemmed dipper. This ritual of self-washing or misogi aimed to purify the body and mind before standing in front of a deity to pray.

Temizuya (shinto shrine pavilion for purification) in Meiji Jingū.
In the middle of temple.

For a moment I stopped after passing through main gate, I was amazed by the size of the Meiji Jingū . This was a shrine dedicated to the spirit of Meiji-tennō , the ancient ruler of Japan.

Meanwhile in some parts of the temple was being renovated. Workers in white carpenter uniforms, complete with various carpentry equipments on their waists and wearing safety helmets, were seen standing on the step ladder, busy making repairs.

While at the end of the shrine, tourists could be seen queuing up at a shop which sells ema and omamori boards. The shop seemed to be guarded by beautiful women dressed in white and red kimonos, they looked polite and graceful to serve the visitors.

While I was busy writing a prayer on a piece of paper, then I put it in a box. While some tourists wrote prayers and hopes on the ema board they bought, then hang it on the spot provided.

The carpenters were on duty.
Shops selling omamori were amulets that were believed by the Japanese to bring good luck and safety.
What was I praying about?
An ema board, a small wooden plaque decorated with handwritten art which expressed hope.

It didn’t feel like an hour and a half walked until I finally finished exploring all parts of the temple. This was my last destination in Tokyo, because I would soon be heading to Narita International Airport to catch Peach Aviation flight number MM6320 which would depart at 21:35 hours.

I finally decided to head straight to Harajuku Station and rushed to Tokyo Station, because I was planning to take JR Bus Kanto to the airport.

Let’s go……..

Get ready at Harajuku Station….To Tokyo Station.

Losing a wallet at Nakano Station

Some meshiya around Yadoya Guesthouse … remain of hunting dinner last night.

Mattress at Yadoya Guesthouse’s bunk bed also seemed to like an ice beam, even when early hours have already gone. That morning, I deliberately slowed myself to wake up, I looked like a coward who hid behind the thickness of dormitory blanket. I revenged for my eyes, after almost forty hours didn’t so perfectly closed. The last felt asleep was the day before yesterday, in Taiwan, precisely.

At ten in the morning I just really woke up, due to whispering sound of two lovebirds behind a blanket on other bunk bed which made me uncomfortable. They sleep with intimate and ignoring around. I decided to watering my body under the shower. This time I managed to find the heating button so there wasn’t need to take a shower of super cold water again liked last night.

Afterwards, I was neatly packed all my travel equipments into 45 litre backpack and I prepared to check-out. That afternoon I would fly to Osaka with Peach Aviation. While the remaining time, I would spend to visiting a temple in the middle of city.

I went down in the lobby and poured warm water from a dispenser. Apparently Janessa was preparing it from early morning.

“Good morning, Donny. How were your days in Tokyo? “

“I’m frozen in this town, Janessa. But all are well “.

“Are you going to Osaka tonight? You visited Tokyo very quick “

“My holidays aren’t much, Janessa”

“I hope you will enjoy Osaka, Donny”

“Thanks Janessa. Nice to meet you “.

I said goodbye to Janessa and turned the body to left Yadoya Guesthouse. My steps were automatically head to a FamilyMart in north of Dormitory. I have to have breakfast before heading to the temple.

See you again Yadoya Guesthouse.
Still abled to swallow onigiri. Breakfast for 298 Yen.
North yard of Nakano Station.

I brought Onigiri on a circular bench near northern gate of Nakano Station. Not alone, many local residents had breakfast with me on the bench. Some young men stood in courtyard to enjoying hot coffee. I sat under warmth of morning sun and was accompanied by a group of busy pigeons.

Breakfast was over, it was time to leave … …

Today I won’t buy Tokunai Pass again because I would just spend time in Meiji Jingū. Afterwards, I would go to Narita International Airport.

I was a little troubled to queue in ticketing vending machine, with a backpack on my back. And a map, gloves and a compass in my left hand then I took out my wallet with right hand. While continuing to step forward to front of queue.

Until my turn to pressed various buttons at Ticketing Vending Machine. Not so difficult, because I had conquered that machine hassle on yesterday afternoon at Tokyo Station. I exchanged 170 Yen for a one way ticket to Harajuku Station located in Shibuya district.

As soon as I got a ticket, I resigned from the queue, inserting a map and compass in its place,  put on gloves again then went to the platform. I continued to entering automatic fare collection gates and following the instructions to Chūō Line train towards Harajuku Station.

Once finished stepping on top stairs …

“Helloooo …..helloooo” …

I looked back. A middle-aged man was waving and asked me to wait for him. So until above …

“This …”, he smiled and handed over a wallet to me.

Gosh, why can my wallet fall?

“Arigatou Gozaimasu …”, I said many times while bowing half of him. And the good man smiled.

“Ohayōgozaimasu …Titterashai”, he bowing and went back down the stairs.

I saw my wallet’s contents for a moment after he left, none of them were reduced. Oh, God … you just keep sending good people to me.

I couldn’t imagine if my wallet was really disappeared. I would definitely walk towards Indonesia’s embassy and asked to be deportation from Japan.

Thank you for a middle-aged man who was kind and thank you God, my adventure was still continuing.

Meeting Lonely on Takeshita Street

Takeshita Exit in Harajuku Station.

I shuffled away from Kanda River, cut a bend in Chuo-dori Avenue, and turned right across Maidreamin, speeding down the six-meter-wide street to quickly arrive at Akihabara Station’s Electronic Town South Exit.

See you soon Akiba….

For a moment I took a deep breath inside station building, letting my palms and face slightly warm. I let steady stream of passengers in front of me pull over against a wall.

I had been hiding in station for ten minutes and my body was starting to warm up. The time was already 18:30 hours. I rushed to platform and prepared to follow Yamanote Line train around Tokyo. This circle line would head south for eleven kilometers, entering Shinagawa District, but only crossing it, then bend to northwest for seven kilometers and stopped in Shibuya District.

There were Meiji Jingu Shrine and Yoyogi Park in the area. But no, it was late, I would visit one of its venues tomorrow. Now I was heading to Takeshita Street, which is a three hundred and fifty meter long alley that is a mirror for young Japanese with a variety of unique and interesting clothes. Along this road also tourists pampered with culinary spots and fashion outlets.

Thirty-five minutes since I left Akihabara Station, I was standing at Harajuku Station’s Takeshita Exit now. And right across the street is a gate with a nameboard titled Takeshita Street with a large LCD clock underneath.

“It’s getting quiet,” I thought. I had even been an hour late since Takeshita Street started closing down. But that was okay…. I’d better get into the rest of crowd and enjoyed what was left in that five meter wide alley.

Santa Monica Crepes outlet.
Who wants to eat those famous crepes?
Takeshita Street east gate.

I passed a large McDonald’s outlet where the diners had already started to leave their table and headed out. I continued to fight against the flow of visitors who had already left Takeshita Street. There was only a little crowd I found at Santa Monica Crepes outlet. Some tourists and local residents were still queuing to get the most famous culinary along Takeshita Street. Do you want to know the price of Crepes there? Seem from sample Crepes on display, the price ranges from 400-670 Yen per piece. Did I buy it????.

I continued down the alley, past the “Sanrio Vivitix Harajuku” knick-knacks outlets, “PINK-latte Harajuku” and “WEGO” fashion outlets, I even found a “Premium King” afternoon thrift shop on one side of the alley. I took steps to east gate of Takeshita Street which was directly adjacent to Meiji-dori Avenue.

Not long, I only visited Takeshita Street for half an hour because most of stall owners had already started to pack up their goods and were about to close their shop’s rolling door. then I stepped along the alley for west gate of Takeshita Street.

Heading to west gate of Takeshita Street.
One of simple platforms at Harajuku Station.
Obedient to queue, clean and dispose trash in its place.

This time I intend to return to Yadoya Guesthouse. It was been almost forty hours I haven’t properly slept. Tokyo’s air was already frozen and my body was also asking for rest. Better to just finished first day of exploration in Tokyo. I would immediately head to Nakano to take a warm bath and sleep.

Enjoying Akihabara from Kanda River

Electronic Town South Exit

Electronic Town South Exit

Dinner was finished. I hurriedly left Ameyoko Market and walked back to Ueno Station’s Hirokoji Exit. My steps were getting faster and easier because Tokunai Pass was still active in my hand. I seem to have a power to go in and out of each station since that afternoon.

It was a few minutes before 6pm, when Yamanote Line picked me up at a platform at Ueno Station. I boarded a very crowded carriage and mingled with city workers. The conditions in carriages were similar to Jakarta Commuter Line carriages in my hometown, crammed and tightly packed.

This time I would move south, two kilometers to visit the leading electronics center in Tokyo, namely Akihabara area, Japanese people usually call it Akiba.

Less than ten minutes, I arrived. Visiting Akiba meaned I was officially leaving Taitō Special City District and entering another district, namely Chiyoda. A district which is famous for existence of Imperial Palace is none other than the residence of Emperor of Japan.

I stepped out of Akihabara Station via Electronic Town South Exit. Coming out of the gate, I instantly stood on a street wich wasn’t wide, only about six meters and was immediately intimidated by tall building belonging to LABI Akihabara which was clearly displayed offering duty-free electronic goods.

It was next door to Akihabara Radio Kaikan, a ten-story commercial building to the right which left only a narrow alleyway. Meanwhile, warnings against smoking were issued at every pole in the form of a No Smoking Sign which was easily found everywhere. Then at the end of the road, a voice came out from Maidreamin Akihabara’s outside speaker.

Left: Akihabara Radio Kaikan Building.
The Sky Hop Bus costs 2,000 Yen.
Above that was Sobu Line train.
Maidreamin Akihabara, a famous maid cafe in Japan whose waiters wear maid costumes.

I continued eastward until I came to main street, Chuo-dori Avenue and I could tell that the temperature was getting colder when I arrived at a bank of Kanda River. I decided to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Akiba from the top of river, because I wasn’t really interested in entering various electronics shops in every inch of Akiba. How would I be interested if to buy a small electronic item like a stopcontact adapter, You have to spend up to 1,000 Yen.

On the streets of Akiba, local residents went back and forth so fast, they seemed to be chasing time to return to their respective homes after working all day or some night employees who still looked fresh and fit to meet their work time in their respective offices.

Not even an hour I was in Akiba, cold temperature made me give up and decided to withdraw sooner. I rushed to Electronic Town South Exit of Akihabara Station.

As the night progresses, my adventure would be more difficult because I had to fight the winter temperatures in Japan. But I will try my best to hold it in, because I didn’t want to just let go of my exploration time there.

I would now move back to Shibuya District.

Dinner at Ameya Yokocho, Taitō

Shibuya Station Platform.

I was standing again at train platform, in Shibuya Station, in Yamanote Line, on 3:48 p.m. The sun had retreated on city skyline and made the temperature degraded to a point of 3 Celsius Degree. Then the air which was nearing to freezing easily penetrated thick black gloves on my palms. But it would be a shameful precedent if I had to give up and chose to curling up in Yadoya Guesthouse bunk bed.

I had already prepared myself to explore Taitō Special City District. Twelve kilometers northeast of Shibuya Special District, thirty minutes away in distance.

Ameya Yokocho was the main reason for my stop over to Ueno Station. It was a one-stop shop, cheap and all discounted. It was said that if wanted to get a cheap dinner, so travelers flocked to that ex-black market which had existed since World War II.

I arrived at Ueno Station exactly on 5:35 pm. Taking Hirokoji Exit, the largest exit in south of station building. This exit has a large courtyard and directly faces Chuo-dori Avenue, opposite Ueno Marui Department Store (OIOI), a famous fashion center with nine-story in Taitō Special City District.

Darkness began to acquire the day when I started my steps towards Ameya Yokocho. More simply called Ameyoko or Ameyoko Market. I hadn’t yet imagined that this market was already starting to get crowded and smell of food was spreading. Made my stomach growl along the way.

I walked down the road under train overpass, heading south. The market distance is about two hundred meters, only five minutes from Hirokoji Exit.

I arrived at a t-junction which in a street stood Ameyoko Market gate. I faced two other streets in t-junction, both of which were part of market lane. But I thought wrong. It wasn’t sweet smell of food which I smelled, but rather fishy smell of sea fishes which firstly pierced deep into my nose. Of course I ignored it because my attention was drawn to the crowd over there.

Ameya Yokocho Gate.
Ameya Yokocho Gate.
Ameya Yokocho inside.

Not unexpectedly, there would be a number of typical Turkish restaurants and several kebab outlets there. I thought it won’t be difficult to find halal food for Muslim travelers here. Meanwhile, along the next street, several outlets selling marine fish were interspersed with fashion outlets, souvenirs, minimarkets, sport equipment and various other outlets.

I didn’t think that I would  prepare some budget to buy anything which was traded in this market, except for dinner. I kept combing every inch of Ameyoko Market until I was finally attracted to an image of a bowl of chicken ramen. Not about contents in the bowl, but the price listed below, it was just 399 Yen.

I didn’t understand about a menu name, but I had a strategy. I took my smartphone and took the picture. I rushed into the restaurant. I started to look around, the table design was elongated and circular in an oval in the middle with several tables on each side of wall which were already filled with local residents. They were so noisy in sipping noodles in their bowl. I went to the waitress and showed a picture on my smartphone. Then that waiter shouted into kitchen while mentioning the name of a menu which I showed then she pointed at an empty seat. I see, that was my dining table. I sat at a table against the wall and waited for the menu to be served.

One of restaurants in Ameya Yokocho.

Meanwhile, I started pouring a pitcher of water with ice cubes in it. I continued to pay attention to visitors behaviour in restaurant. Once they entered the room, they would remove their jackets on a hanger in the corner of room, then sat at dining table, ordered and quickly ate their food. Everything was in regularity.

Soon the waiter served a menu I ordered and I started to eating it. According to a reference I had read, Japanese people will slurp the noodles they order with a sound enough to be heard to showing that the noodles are delicious and as a respect gesture for the chef. So I had the same scene even though it was a bit of a hassle and made my noodle soup splattered onto the dining table. That wasn’t enough to embarrass me, because a water pitcher on my table was completely ran out, I didn’t know how many times I poured it in my small glass. A maidservant who had been watching me for a while covered her smile with her hand while intermittently whispering to other maidservants. She certainly knew that I was a traveler with have a different skin from japanese.

As a result, I paid for the food with a big smile on her, because she never closed his smile when she looked at me.

Hirokoji Exit in Ueno Station.
Ueno Station inside.
Ueno Station Platform.

I finished dinner on 5:45 p.m., and hurried out from Taitō Special City District.

Aura of Hachiko Statue, Five Times in Shibuya Crossing

Still remember?…..

When D.K’s black car was chasing Sean Boswell who was speeding in his red racing car and the racing group was led by Han Lue in front who was masculine swerving in his yellow racing car. In the chase, there was a moment when three race cars were forced to pass at an intersection which full of pedestrians. The scene was so thrilling but looked absolutely fantastic from top camera. Unmistakably, that was a piece of scene in the movie “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”. And the intersection in question was known as the Shibuya Crossing.

Well, if this was a different story again…..

Have you ever watched a film based on a true story and tell of a dog named Hachi and his master Parker Wilson, played by veteran actor Richard Gere?.

Being tell In the film, Hachi was so loyal and always took Wilson to station every day to go to teach and waited for his return in front of the same station in afternoon. Such was Hachi’s daily activities. Until one day, Wilson died on campus because of a heart attack and would never see Hachi again. But because of Hachi’s loyalty, Hachi until the end of its life still waiting for its master who never again came in front of the station. This legendary dog ​​was a true story of the origin of Hachiko Statue which was located near Shibuya Station and just a hundred meters south of Shibuya Crossing.

That afternoon the air was getting colder, slowly dropping from 4 Celsius degree, the time was 13:45 hours when I was already at the north entrance gate of Nakano Station. Not long, the Chuo-Sobu Line train arrived. In the late afternoon, passengers were still quiet, maybe it wasn’t time to go home from work. I took a seat on the left side of carriage and felt the warmth of air in the carriage. I only realized when I felt hot air gush from under the seat and hit my feet as I sat down. Apparently trains in Japan put a heating engine under the seat.

The inner side of Shibuya Station.
Shibuya Station Gate directly located opposite Hachiko Square.

Just five minutes towards southeast, I got off the Chuo-Sobu Line to change to Yamanote Line. Now the train was moving south for four kilometers and took ten minutes and was in increasingly congested passenger conditions. Yamanote Line is the busiest train line in downtown Tokyo.

I arrived at Shibuya Station on 14:00 hours and took directions to Hachiko Exit Gate at north of station building. When I stepped out of station gate, I was immediately greeted by appearance of Hachiko Square which was already full of visitors. Some sat on each side of the plaza and most surrounded the statue of loyal beast queuing for photos. There was nothing special about the statue, maybe it was Hachiko’s life story which made the statue feel alive and became a attention center.

I enjoyed soon the crowd at Hachiko Square. Because I couldn’t wait to feel the sensation of crossing at Shibuya Crossing. I stepped a hundred meters north and started to stand at that famous five junction. I could only smile to myself when I saw the behavior of some tourists when crossing. Some took pictures in the middle of intersection, some ran and climbed a signpole to take photos from a height, and some posted vlogs as long as the green light was still on. And when a sign sound “tut-tut-tut” loudly shouting after another as a sign that traffic light would turn red, then all tourists and local pedestrians rushed to walk to road edge and briefly left a silence moment, then followed by the sound of horns and the roar of car engines which scrambling across the intersection headed in all directions.

Chūken Hachikō, if it were still alive, t would be 97 years old.
Yuhuu….Shibuya Crossing.
Tsutaya is a well-known bookstore in Japan. I’m @ Shibuya Crossing.
An intersection which is said to be able to cross 50,000 pedestrians for 30 minutes.

I was who still couldn’t believe that I could be there, was infected by their acute strangeness. Since it was an intersection of five streets, it was even five times, I crossed back and forth from side to side at Shibuya Crossing. Oh my God, Was this an afternoon when made me going crazy from exposure to Tokyo life’s aroma?.

Meet with Janessa at Yadoya Guesthouse

Nakano Station building has two levels above ground with eight platforms. The front lobby of station is stretched out with a canopy made of Aluminum Composite Panel until it is right at the front gate of Nakano Sun Mall. When I got there, I exited the north door with a huge paved courtyard decorated with doves which had lunch.

Day was already towards afternoon, it was still cold even though the clock was pointing on 13:40 hours. I just thought of going to the hotel, putting my backpack and starting my first adventure in Tokyo.

I bypassed the parallel road to the right of station’s north gate. Tucked in the haughty feet of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank. Only a row of mural art on the wall which had fuction as barrier the rail line which was able to provide a mood booster that afternoon..

Then I began to entering narrow alleys with three meters wide heading north. That afternoon, every street I passed was deserted, the bustle was very subtle along alleys I was walking through in the Nakano District. Maybe it was because the population of Nakano was only three hundred thousand inhabitants.

Even restaurants which were mushrooming along the alley were still tightly closed, later I would see the excitement of that restaurants when night came. The night where in every restaurant there would stand a man who invited everyone to entering into it. In my head memory, I still remembered some of the names of these restaurants. This showed that I was very impressed during my stay in Nakano District. Izakaya, Tsuyamaru, Gyu No Simonya, Hakata Mangetsu and Ikkenme Sakaba were some of the names of restaurants there. Did I taste their cooking?. NO, I explained again “NO”. Because everyday in Nakano, every time I walked on to meet my stomach needs, I could only buy two pieces of onigiri at a regular FamilyMart in Fureai Road.

Olala….Arriving at Yadoya Guesthouse.
The cold barrier from outside air was a plastic curtain.
Shared spot to storing food.

“Hi, Where are you coming from?” I asked the dormitory receptionist. I didn’t want to just enjoy her beauty in silence. I better started the conversation.

“Hi Donny, I’m Janessa from Portugal”, of course she knew my name, because she was checking my passport number before giving me a bunk bed where I slept at Yadoya Guesthouse.

“Hi Janessa, I’m very surprised because the receptionist isn’t Japanese, but you”, I started with smile.

“Yeah, I’m working here. It’s nice country”, her smile looked happy.

“Donny, your bunk bed is at fourth level. So enjoying to burn your calorie by walking on stairs there”, Janessa added with a little joke.

“Okay, Janessa. It’s no matter. I’m strong backpacker”, I ended the conversation.

Yadoya Guesthouse left so much impression. There were a lot of silliness in it that made me laugh sometimes when I remembered it. Some of them were when a night I had to wash with cold water because I couldn’t find the location of heating button, or a morning when I found two European lovebirds have cuddle sleeping in a small bunk bed with thick blankets. Or a time on the middle of night, It was hard to closing my eyes because my bed seemed to freezing. Maybe a dormitory for 2,000 Yen per night wasn’t suitable for staying in Japan in winter.

First stairs.
During in Japan, I’ve never been to buy a quota and a local SIM card. I always rely on the hotel’s WiFi to send news to my country.
Go to the room on fourth floor.
Keep stepping the stairs.

From sixteen bunk beds in the room, I met my close neighbor, a solo backpacker from Brunei Darussalam, who was cute in her hijab. Yes, I knew where she came from because I found the image of crescent moon with both hands raised which is the symbol of her country clearly affixed to her backpack.

Whatever I felt, Nakano District still gave a deep impression in my adventure to know Tokyo and Yadoya Guesthouse became the umpteenth home in part of my trip.

Hunting Tokunai Pass: Chou Line from Tokyo to Nakano

Arriving at Tokyo Station.

As usual, perpetuating oneself in front of important spots in other countries was a natural habit. So before entering Tokyo Station, I took a time to pose in front of its gate. It was right in front of the “Yaeshu North Entrance”.

“If you go to Tokyo. You rarely met people above the surface, Donny. But once you enter the underground station, Tokyo residents are like bees in it. Try to prove Donny if you don’t believe it!”, that was what an officemate said who had gone to Tokyo. I was surprised at that time.

Now I was in Tokyo and hoping to prove it. As it turned out, a thing on the surface which people would rarely meet….That was clearly wrong. Tokyo was still a busy city in the world with high population mobility on it. Then, the “underground beehive”….Yeah, that was right. Even before I got to the bottom room, Tokyo station was full of people. Extraordinary.

When entering station building, I prefered to stand attached to a large pole and recorded the back and forth of train passengers who were very tightly packed….. Super busy. Maybe I became the most relaxed human being that morning throughout Tokyo station because I still had time to stand for a long time recording the activities in it.

Now was the time to hunt for train tickets. I had intended to get a one day pass so I could explore Tokyo until midnight. Queued myself at a ticketing vending machine. In the queue, I kept a close eye on how everyone operated the machine. However, when it was my turn, I still didn’t understand. All screens were full of buttons and numbers representing ticket prices. I didn’t know where that destination was. I looked back, I was annoying the queues because I was looking for tickets for too long. I gave up, I stepped back and let  other passengers who seemed very rushed with their time. I continued to stand a bit away from ticketing vending machine and watched them when using it. Still confused…. because they chose to use kanji characters.

In the end I decided to look for the other side of station which was quieter. I found it in the left hallway. The ticketing vending machine was empty. I slowly approached, quietly and I watched carefully every button. Finally I found the “ENG” button which would lead me to use an international language. But I didn’t immediately find the word “One Day Pass”.

I kept looking in the “Discount Card” directory and the words “Tokunai Pass” popped up. Luckily, I had read an article about Japanese railways before setting out on an adventure. In the article it was mentioned that the One Day Pass for Japan was called the Tokunai Pass. So happy I solved the problem. Oh, it turned out that it was easy. I pressed it and then paying for 750 Yen.

Tokunai Pass.
This might be the receipt.

As far as I know, the Tokunai Pass ia available at all JR Line stations. And can be used to ride all local JR Line trains (within Tokyo city) whose rails are located above ground level. So it can’t be used for Tokyo Subway underground train.

As soon as I got the ticket, I headed straight for the platform in the direction of Nakano.

Nakano is located east of Tokyo with a distance of 15 Km and travel time by train is around 20 minutes. I purposely looked for a place to stay that was a bit far from the city center because its price was cheap.

Platform to Nakano.
Arriving at Nakano Station.

I took the Chuo Line to Nakano. At 13:30 hours, I arrived at Nakano Station. And get ready to walk to Yadoya Guesthouse.