i am sitting in the Haneda Airport in Tokyo waiting to board our flight. The flight leaves on the 3oth from Tokyo and we land in LA on the 29th. I’m tired and confused. Let me start at the beginning of the day. Woke up to cold and rain. We had planned on going to a park to see some cherry blossoms but scratched that idea due to weather. We took our time getting ready since the plan was to go to the train station, but the bullet train didn’t leave until 3:30pm so we had plenty of time to kill. The train station is huge with plenty of shops do there was enough to look at. The first order of business was breakfast. We found the Jim Beam cafe and they had breakfast. I had a ham and cheese on toasted bread with potato salad and coffee. Marsha had the egg and cheese on toast with potato salad and tea. Believe it or not breakfast was really good. We then walked around the station for a while and then settled in for the long wait. In the afternoon we went back to the Jim Beam Cafe for a Jim Beam orange cocktail and a Jim Beam grapefruit cocktail. We ordered appetizers of white asparagus and oranges and pickled daikon radish and cream cheese. Needless to say all was good. Finally time to get on the bullet train. It took us 2 1/2 hous to go from Osaka to Tokyo. We stopped at the train station and had to find the subway to the airport. Obviously we managed well since we are here. A lady on the subway saw our suitcases and told us which stop was ours. I thought that was really nice. The Haneda airport is traveler friendly. There are shops and the also had a karaoke band playing. See pic. I really enjoyed Japan even though the cherry blossoms were not in bloom. I’ll really miss the toilets (mine doesn’t play music or wash my heine) and bathrooms. However it is hard to describe the sea of people we had to wade through every day. I’ll finish this in LA and send it. We are now in LA and we took a shuttle to the Westin Hotel for a welcome back party for us.
Drinks at the Westin after we landed in LA.
After breakfast Marsha and I took the hotel shuttle to the Osaka airport to catch a train into central Osaka. We wanted to be at Shin-Osaka terminal because tbat is close to our hotel. We got an express train and it was about an hour ride. This railroad station is huge- think of a really big airport. Again most everything is in Japanese so we asked someone how to get to our hotel. The directions were easy and it was an easy walk to the hotel. We dropped off our bags and walked around to see the area. The area around the station and hotel appears to be almost all residential and it was quiet. We checked into our hotel at 3pm and the front desk had taken our luggage up to our room. We then decided to take the subway to the Umeda section of Osaka. There was supposed to be shops and entertainment there. We went to buy subway tickets from the machine but didn’t know how much they cost. A person from the subway (in uniform) assisted us and off we were to Umeda. Everything here is very crowded but Umeda is indescribable. The subways were jammed full and when we reached the surface street there was wall to wall people. I have never seen so many people. I can’t even tell you how many malls there are in this area there are so many and they are all full of people. We picked one and went in. Beautiful mall with 9 floors of really nice shops and restaurants. We stopped at a French Bistro for a glass of wine. All of the restaurants had long lines with people waiting to eat. I think there was 93 restaurants and they were all busy. As I told you indescribable. Marsha and I decided to eat at one of the little places in the station near our hotel. While we were at the Shin-Osaka station we bought our bullet train tickets to Tokyo.We got back to the hotel and put on the pajamas provided by the hotel since there was no room for our suitcases the room was so small. Every hotel in Japan had pajamas for us to wear along with sandals in the room. I took a picture of the bathroom so you could see how small this place is and it was not cheap. There is also a pic of Marsha in bed so you can see how small the room is.
I forgot about the vending machines. There are banks of them everywhere. There is never less than 2 together.
Sorry I’m a day behind, but we have had very busy days. We had the usual buffet breakfast and set out for the sake museum and distillery. We were shown the old distillery and how sake is made. Then we went to the tasting room where we sampled 3 kinds of sake. I really don’t care for sake even though the stuff at the distillery is supposed to be very good. I took pics of the people serving us. Then we were off to Nara and the Todaiji Temple. Before we went to the temple we stopped for lunch. I wanted the room where we would sit on the floor, but they showed us to the room with chairs. See pic. I had a vegetarian meal because the regular meal contained shrimp. Then we went on foot to the Todaiji Temple which is the largest wooden building in Japan. The temple also houses the largest bronze statue of Buddah. The temple is situated in a large park the has at least 1,000 Sitka deer. While in the temple I went trough Buddah’s nostril which is supposed to bring good luck. There is a picture of me emerging from the very small opening. There was no traction as I was trying to get through the hole, but the passengers on our bus became my cheering section and I made it. I took a picture of the picture on Marsha’s camera. After the temple we got on the bus and headed for Osaka. In Osaka we went to the Osaka Castle. The grounds and castle are beautiful. We went up to the 6th floor and worked out way down through the museum. No pics allowed in the museum, but some of the samurai outfits were amazing for their time. Then we went to the Dodonbori district which is known for neon and mechanized signs. It was really really crowded there. Very interesting, but very crowded. Then back on the bus to drop people off at their hotels. We were the last to be dropped off at 8;30pm and we still needed to get dinner. I would mention we have had no English speaking TV for a few days and as I am writing this Marsha is totally engrossed in a Japanese travel channel.
Back to dinner. Several other people were in the same hotel with us so we all went out to dinner together to the only restaurant open. The trickwas to find it. It was through the mini mart across a walkway to the hotel across the street. We got to the hotel, got in the elevator- but no 25th floor where the restaurant should be. So we all went to the 52nd floor thinking everyone got the numbers reversed. Wrong. We all went back down to the ground floor where we found another building that had a 25th floor. These buildings are massive. Finally we found a restaurant, but they were closing. Down to the other end of the hall. Yeah!! – a restaurant that is open. We had to take our shoes off and when we were seated had to figure out what to eat since most of the menu was in Japanese. Also we had to order on a tablet and there would only be one bill. We did the sensible thing and ordered a caraf of wine. We also ordered food and had a really fun time laughing at our misadventures. Finally time for bed since it was late. Tomorrow we have to take the train to the center of Osaka since we are staying out by the airport. It is about an hour ride. Remember almost everything is on Japanese – no roman letters so it can be difficult figuring things out.