Japan Trip Report
Hola. Konichiwa. Greetings. Jason, Peter, and I made it back from Japan on Sunday and after a day taking care of some yardwork, going for a short ride, and hanging with the family, it is time to get back to business. What follows is a blow by blow account of the trip to Japan and all that happened there.
But first, a round of thank you's is in order. First and foremost, thank you to Rie for her hardwork setting up meetings, interviews, and dinners for us. While we did do a lot of work while we were there, it was great traveling with her because she taught us so very much about the Japanese people and culture. When we weren't working, we were learning and that is a fantastic combination!
Also, thanks are in order for all the people we met, from shop owners, wrenches, writers, and photographers. You were all very kind to spend your time with us and we had a great time talking and visiting with you.
Day 1 - June 3rd and 4th - MINNEAPOLIS TO TOKYO
We left Minneapolis at 3pm on Friday. No problems on the flight unless you consider bumping elbows and shoulders with strangers confined to tiny airplane seats a problem. The guy next to me was going back to China for the first time in many, many years to see his parents, friends, and family. He was a very nice guy who is going to be shocked by the massive change that his homeland has seen during the years he has been away.
We arrive at Narita International Airport at 5pm on Saturday the 4th and the pass through customs goes smoothly. I remember as a kid that custom's would always be opening up luggage but I think so much stuff is available throughout the world now that they are looking for drugs and so forth, and not so much for items destined for the black market.
We exchange dollars for yen at the airport and then hop a bus bound for Shinjuku, a section of Tokyo. The bus trip is slow as a thundershower and bad traffic bring the bus to a crawl. It would be a bummer except that we are all no crashed out as the jet lag is hitting us. As a bonus, the bus alternated between being too cold and too hot adding to that "really fresh" feeling we are all sporting.
At 8pm we arrive at the Shinjuku Prince Hotel after carrying our luggage and bike boxes a few blocks through the crowded streets. I'm sure we made quite a sight! After checking in and splashing a little water on our faces we headed out to grab some supper. The Shinjuku area is bustling with nightlife. Young people flock the streets. Peter says a lot of them will be out partying till 5am and then catch the first train home in the morning.
Peter picks an undergound dive for dinner and we order three different dishes, one of which is cooked at our table...a sort of seafood, rice glutin, and vegetable mix that thickens up as it is cooked. We also have a thick vegetable pancake type thing and a sobe noodle omelet. All are quite tasty and combined with the beer get us ready to crash out for the night.
Jet lag is creeping up on us once again so we head back to our rooms to prep for tomorrow. We've got bikes to build and clothes to pack for a two-day side trip to Kyoto and then Kurashiki, where we'll visit Salsa dealers and do some bike-mounted sightseeing...the best kind of sightseeing there is!
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