Please start at Day One

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Day 1 - Arriving in Japan

I haven't flown long haul since the summer of 1993 when I flew from London to New York for Camp America, so I found virtually everything about my journey new and exciting, before I had even arrived in Japan.

Back in the 'old days' we all had to watch the same in-flight movie together; whereas today I had far more choices. After some channel-hopping, I finally opted for "Red", followed up "True Grit" and then finished off with the latest "Harry Potter". I realised that booking a window seat had been unecessary, as I tuned in to monitor various camera angles from outside the plane.

When they started serving the food I began to steel myself for one of my customary "No, sorry, I am a veggie" awkward conversations, when a smart young steward suddenly caught my eye and scurried up the aisle towards me with a tray. I was ready for an argument as he leaned towards me, over the poor man in the aisle seat, and asked me, "Vegetarian meal?". And so it was, at 37000 feet over the Tigris River in Iraq, at 652 mph, that I relaxed and started to enjoy my journey.

After filling out repetitive customs and immigration forms upon arrival, and explaining in my schoolboy-Japanese to various immaculately uniformed officials at Kansai International Airport about my plans, and after they had replied in far better English than I had been told to expect, I must have been looking lost, or shifty, because I was collared by a plain clothes cop who asked to see my passport. I showed him my passport, and he copied a few details into his notebook; then I showed him my warrant card and explained - in Japanese - that I was also a Police Officer in London; and he became more friendly. Which is not to say that he had been un-friendly prior to this, just professional, but now he personally escorted me to the correct bus stop for my onward journey to Wakayama, and also pointed to some confusing ticket machines.

The view from my window is stunning. Wakayama Castle was originally built around 1585 but, as with so many Japanese buildings, has been repeatedly re-built since then, most recently 50 years ago.

In the hotel room, I tackled the Japanese toilet. Just to clarify: this was not a Japanese-style toilet, but a Japanese 'western-style' toilet, with an array of buttons to send jets of warm water here and there. I still haven't been brave enough to attempt a proper Japanese toilet. I ventured out to visit a convenience store this evening to buy some rice balls, which I think was also particularly brave of me, considering that they didn`t come with any English instructions, like the ones I buy in London. I finished the day with my first bath for over three years!

  • Distance walked today = 0km
  • Total distance = 0km
  • Temples visited today = nil
  • Koban visited today = nil
  • Accomodation = Hotel and breakfast ¥5300 Hotel Tokyu Inn, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama-ken 〒640-8232
  • Expenditure today = Bus from Kansai Airport to Wakayama ¥1100, evening snacks: bottle of Evian ¥100, two rice balls ¥225, dorayaki ¥85, and a packet of nuts ¥180.
  • Settai = assistance in getting on/off the bus at the correct place.



僕がパスポートを見せると、彼は幾つか詳細をメモに書き込んだ。僕は証拠を見せながら −日本語で− 自分がロンドンから来た警察官であることを説明した。そうすると彼はもっと優しい態度になった。とはいっても、彼がその前に優しくなかったというわけではなく、プロとして職務をこなしていただけだ。でもそれからは、彼はわざわざ僕を和歌山行きのバスの停留所まで案内してくれ、複雑な切符販売機も教えてくれた。


今日の支出=関空から和歌山までのシャトルバス 1100円、ホテル(朝食付)5300円、エビアン100円、おにぎり2個225円、どら焼き85円、ナッツ小袋180円

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