Japan, Part 1: Planes, trains and hotel rooms

We took the 14-hour plane ride (non-stop) from D/FW to Narita.  On the plane we met another set of parents heading to Yokosuka – they were from central Louisiana and we ran into them several times during the trip.  Unfortunately my son was not as easy to find.  His ship pulled into port the same day we arrived and he did not have a working cell phone.  On arrival we hoped to meet him at the airport but could not find him so we decided to take the train.  Narita Airport is several miles east of Tokyo and our destination (Yokosuka) is a ways south of Tokyo, so we had a long train ride in store.  We chose the slower local train rather than the Narita Express since it was cheaper and did not require a change of trains at Yokohama, which we were scared to death of at that point.  Most signs in Japan are in both English and Japanese, but the train maps are an exception.  The train was not too crowded since we got on before rush hour and this train went more around Tokyo than through it. Two hours and forty minutes later we arrived at Yokosuka station.  By then it was dark and even with the map from the hotel website we had no idea which direction our hotel was.  We took a chance and asked a couple of teenagers who were loitering near the harbor.  They spoke no English but could read the name of the hotel when we showed them our reservation.  We learned later that Japanese schools require several years of English but the concentration is more on written English than spoken.  After attempting to point for a bit, they gave up and decided to walk us to the hotel, about 2 blocks away.  They were very courteous and this is something we encountered over and over.  I wonder how many American teenagers would be so helpful. Our hotel rooms were small by American standards as we expected, with a full-size bed (more of a futon really), a credenza with a small TV and fridge, and a couple of chairs and a small table wedged next to the window.  The bathroom was fascinating; it was a self-contained unit and you had to step up about a foot to enter it.  Inside it was very cramped but usable, even for us fat America-jin.  The shower had no faucet of its own, but was just a nozzle was attached to a hose running to the sink.  No ice was available in the hotel, but each floor had a nice filtered water cooler (hot and cold).  No coffee pot, but a tea maker was provided.  They also provided a hair dryer, pajamas and slippers.  Our camera chargers worked just fine in the electrical sockets, which run on 110V.

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