Tuesday 3rd July 2018
After waking up super early when I didn’t need to I checked my phone to see the time and saw that the burglar alarm at home was going off. I checked my phone and saw that it was probably because of the person coming to feed the cat. So I disarmed the house, cleared all the problems and set it back up again. Nothing looked out of place, the activity log matched what I would expect, so all was fine. The cat didn’t seem to care.
We both rested in bed and watched some TV before we got ourselves ready for the last big internal travel day of the trip. Today we would be heading back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. We had decided to take it easy this morning so that we would not stress ourselves out worrying about time. We gave ourselves plenty of time goals to ensure we made it to Shin-Osaka on time. We used our last breakfast coupon to get some pastries to go from a place in the station and then we scoped out a way to get to the subway line without steps (which we found).
After going back to the hotel, grabbing our stuff and checking out we made our way through the rush hour crowds of people coming out of the station into the hellmouth. When we got down to the platform, then it became apparent things were not going to be easy. The trains were pulling in almost packed full of people and there was still plenty of people piling themselves onto the train. When we finally found a spot where we could get on, we missed the first train because we were not game to throw our bags into the scrum. Then on the second go (trains were running about one every minute) only Heidi was able to get on and she got rammed into the train with everyone else. So it looked like we were going to seperate.
It took me two more trains before I could get on and i barely made it on with my suitcase and i got crushed in the process. Then I found out the train I was on did not go to Shin-Osaka but stopped short. So I had to get off at another station and risk the whole train jam thing again…. Fun. I made it through though and caught up with Heidi at Shin-Osaka. Thankfully we had given ourselves plenty of time.
We made our way through Shin-Osaka Station up to the Shinkansen platforms and found where we were departing from. We camped out for about 40 minutes or so (after several contemplations of ditching our train and heading for an earlier train to Tokyo, but we didnt). Our train pulled in and we jumped onboard and stashed our bags in the usual spot. We swam upstream to our seats and got settled in for the long (well not really) ride up to Tokyo.
Today’s train was a Hikari and would stop at Kyoto, Nagoya, a couple of other stops before Yokohama, and then into Tokyo. We had the usual seats and just enjoyed the ride. We finally ate our pastry breakfast and I worked on the trip report while Heidi did some of her japanese lessons. The train cruised north as we watched people get on and off. We pulled through stations we had seen in the daylight and some we had only seen at night. Sadly though the clouds were out so there would be no sighting of Fujisan today 🙁
As we pulled in towards Tokyo Station it was sad to be getting off. Waiting there at the carriage though was a staff member from the Shangri-La Tokyo, they were waiting to assist us with our bags and take us to the hotel. It was crazy though that they would offer this. It was not a problem though and they took one of our suitcases for us and escorted us through the craziness towards the hotel. After checking in and getting stuff sorted in the room, Heidi wasn’t feeling to crash hot so she crashed out in the room. I grabbed my rail pass and my camera bag and I headed out towards the station again. I have been wanting to take photos at Haneda for a long time, so that was my goal tonight. It was pretty easy to get out there. Take the Yamanote line to Hamamatsucho and then take the Tokyo Monorail all the way out to Haneda. The best part is the whole thing was free with the rail pass.
I checked the spotting sights to see which terminal was going to be better in the afternoon and it said Terminal 2, so ANA it was going to be. The terminal was great, bright and clean. It felt more like a shopping mall and even had a Lawson in it. So i grabbed a drink and a sandwich (since I had not had lunch yet) and grabbed an elevator all the way to the top floor. The observation deck was on the very top of the terminal and the sun was shining. I spent several hours on the roof of the terminal getting plenty of photos (and sunburnt at the same time). I got some good special liveries and a few airlines I had not gotten before.
After finally watching the weather start to get iffy, I retraced my steps back towards Tokyo Station and met up with Heidi for some dinner. We wandered the surrounding streets as we were both pretty tired and didn’t wish to go far. We came out of the night finding a small, local possibly chain, restaurant and had a great dinner. We picked up some treats for dessert and headed back to the hotel to crash out for the evening.
Wednesday 4th July 2018
This morning I got up early and went to the gym (while Heidi groaned and rolled over). It was relatively easy morning in the hotel as we had a breakfast meeting with the hotel (work requirement). The breakfast at the hotel was great and the pastries were excellent! It was a good morning and by the time we were finished it was around 11am. So Heidi and I decided we would take the opportunity to go out to Omiya & Saitama so that I could go to the JR East Railway Museum.
We took the Shinkansen up to Omiya (since it was free) and then connected on to the local strange subway thingy over to the Museum. When we arrived though, unfortunately there was a big sign saying “Closed”. No reason given (at least in english). Nothing online stating they were closed on the english site. They close tuesdays, but not wednesdays. This was confusing. We tried walking around wondering if it was just that entrance, but nope closed. Turns out that it was closed due to the preparations for opening the new section the next day. So that plan was out because it would be extremely crowded for the next few weeks. Pass!
So we got back on the shuttle thingy back to Omiya and then got back on the train towards Tokyo. We managed to time it pretty well because a few minutes after we got there, one of the Double Decker Shinkansen (the Max) was scheduled. Score! So we got our tickets and headed off towards Tokyo. We jumped off at Ueno so that we could walk around through some of the market streets between Ueno and the next station.
We continued down to Akihabara for some lunch and a bit of an explore through the streets. But during the middle of a pretty tasty lunch, my nose started to spew blood and lots of it. This was not good when I was running short of tissues, japanese bathrooms don’t have paper towels and there was lines to get into the restrooms. Ugh!
I did what i could and it eventually stopped but that pretty much killed my mood for the rest of the afternoon. I just was not in a good frame of mind. So Heidi and I went back to the hotel and settled in to watch some netflix to keep us busy. We ventured out of the hotel for some dinner and walked around the station area to scope out the finally finished Marunouchi side of the station. We happened to find one of the sites of an assassination while we were walking around. Neither of us was all that hungry for a big dinner, so we grabbed some food from the Daimaru department store and headed back to the hotel to relax. Not the best day, but it was still a good day in Tokyo.