After another wonderful flight with the good people of Japan airlines, Sara and I faced the decidedly less escorted part of our trip. Our mission, which we had no choice but to accept, was to make it from Narita airport to a pay-phone in Shinjuku station on the other side of Tokyo. From there, we were to take the Chuoh line from Shinjuku station to Nakano, where we would meet Makoto, the care-taker of the apartment we were renting. The first part of the trip was rather easy. We were both armed with Japan rail passes that would take us anywhere in the country if we wanted to. We did hit a little snag in Shinjuku. The million or so people that travel through that station everyday made it a little difficult to find a phone. However, I was able to make use of some of the Japanese I learned in university and so we found the pay phone and all Makoto had to do was look out for the weary-looking foreigners exiting the station. He did, and led us to our rented Tokyo apartment.
The Nakano broadway mall was very busy with shoppers and salespeople, but the buzz quickly died down as we passed through the winding streets behind it. You could see how safe everyone felt. There weren’t any of the hurried gaits you would see even in Vancouver’s West End. The apartment itself was like a large trailer. There were hardwood floors leading to a small bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. As small as it was, it was still a house of the future in some ways. The heating and hot water were all computer controlled. The rice maker had a suction lid that could keep your rice going for days. The washing machine fit in a closet and was almost silent. The small television had a large kill switch at the top that would allow it to remain plugged in without using any power to maintain the remote control connection. The garbage can was divided into four categories: Kitchen waste/combustibles, PET bottles, Non-combustibles, and glass bottles/aluminum cans. Each category had a different pick-up day. Even with the steep learning curve, I liked the apartment much better than a hotel. I’m never comfortable with the idea of hotel housekeeping, and when you are travelling to foreign country, going native can give you a true international experience.