Upon landing, I walked up the Jetway into the airport and then fell to my knees, weeping and kissing the ground. At last I had returned to the land of my birth. (I was born in Okinawa for those of you do not know…) My people welcomed me with open arms. Misou told me to get up off the floor and get my ass to the baggage claim. (When we get to Saigon, though, she gets to weep and kiss the ground.)
We had no problem getting through immigration and customs, despite all the swag we’re smuggling through Japan to give to relatives in Saigon. After escaping the arrivals zone, we wandered around a bit in search of a money exchange station that would not shaft us too terribly, and then we bought some Skyliner tickets into Tokyo. It took less than an hour to reach Ueno Park, so when all was said and done we were practically at our hotel by about 4:30 pm local time.
Now all we had to do was walk a few blocks to the Tougeneya Hotel, which is conveniently located at 3-17-5 Higashi-Ueno, Taito-Ku. Unfortunately, we had no idea what “3-17-5 Higashi-Ueno” meant, and we soon realized that we are more or less illiterate here in the world’s largest metropolis. Lucky for us, we’re traveling geniuses: we quickly spotted a local map posted outside a First Kitchen (more on this soon) and deduced that Higashi-Ueno is a district in the Taito-Ku prefecture, 3 is the third ward, 17 is our block, and 5 is the building number. Piissu no keeku!
After checking in and showering, we hit the streets of Ueno Park. We stumbled upon a great little resutoran called Isomaru, where I spoke to our waiter in Japanese so broken that we had the entire staff laughing at us. We had some braised clams, prawns, squid, scallops, and a maguro donburi, washed down with a Coca-Cola for Misou and a mix of shōchū and Hoppy brand beer for Brandon. Oishii deshita ne! (Or, in the words of a Japanese girl we met on the street: “Tasty, tasty!”)