(You can see all of the accompanying photos I took today at flickr.com/photos/cloudie/sets/72157603048959630.)
I’ve arrived in Narita, Japan on my way to the International Semantic Web Conference in Busan, Korea tomorrow (and am also going to the Web 2.0 Expo Tokyo after that). It’s been over nine years since I was here last, and I didn’t make it to Tokyo that time – so looking forward to exploring the city proper and practicing my very basic Japanese when I return after ISWC.
I flew with Aer Lingus on the dying Shannon-Heathrow flight, and from there direct to Tokyo Narita Airport. Taking the Shannon flight makes you realise just how stuck we’ll be when it goes – it’ll mean either an extra flight to Dublin or a three hour (at least) trip of some sort to Dublin Airport, not very nice. The other alternative involves flying from Galway to London and having an airport switch there from say Luton to Heathrow, which won’t be fun either. This makes me really mad with the government and their stupid salary hikes (note to non-natives: the SNN-LHR route is being axed by Aer Lingus, and the government did nada about it; they also recently okayed pay increases for themselves, making our Taoiseach the highest-paid leader of the world’s richest nations) – a use for my compla.in domain perhaps… Anyway, the Tokyo flight was 11 hours, pretty long but I didn’t find it too bad thanks to the in-seat entertainment screen which had at least 30 movies and many more TV shows and music albums to choose from.
I arrived in Narita Airport at 9 AM local time (midnight Irish time), and then got the Keisei rail line to Narita so was getting pretty tired by then (10:30) as I’m normally in bed early. Unfortunately the hotel had a check in of 3 PM, so I wandered around Narita for a few hours to keep myself awake. It’s horribly wet here today, but I found many parts of the town charming as I wandered down Omotesando Street and saw all the traditional stalls and eateries with people working in street-facing areas.
I made my way up to the Naritasan Shinshoji Buddhist Temple, where I attended a very interesting religious ceremony with chanting monks playing large traditional drums and other instruments. (Incidentally, and not as interesting, I heard my first Christmas music of the year on Omotesando Street too – “Adeste Fideles” was being belted out from some speakers along the road!)
I finished off my journey with a very tasty lunch of spring onion soup and Chicken fried rice in the Ramen Bayashi Noodle Shop (right) before heading back to the Comfort Hotel Narita. I got to check in 30 minutes early, and I must say that the hotel facilities are amazing considering the very low price of around €35. Free wi-fi and coffee, with breakfast included, slippers and nightshirt for your use, and the rooms are an okay size too. They have some bottom spraying toilets (some with heated seats too) if you like that kind of thing 😉 I’d recommend it if you’re having a stayover.
I really miss family and home, but I am going to make the most of my trip both professionally and socially. I next go to Busan for four nights and then back to Tokyo for four nights after that. (I also found out today when reading the Daily Yomiuri that the SCWBI are holding an event next Saturday [17th November at 6:30 in Shibuya] entitled “Made in Japan: What Makes Manga Japanese – And Why Western Kids Love It” – perfect timing and location for me, since that’s when and where I’ll be in Tokyo!)