While I was on my trip to Asia, I took notes in the little notebook I carry with me everywhere about all the stuff I did so I wouldn’t forget, and it was while doing so on the very first day, er, night there that I realized that due to the time change and dateline, the first day was really the first two days. So here’s how Day 1/2 went:
Mark dropped me off at the airport that morning before he went to work, and I met up with my boss and her family (husband and two daughters) there. Our flight to DC took off fine, on time, no problem. Upon arrival in DC, we were informed that our flight to Tokyo was delayed. By the time our plane actually took off, the total time delayed was 4.5 hours. This was not ideal.
Our original plan, you see, was to organize our time in Japan this way: Fly into Tokyo mid-afternoon, catch the shinkansen to Kyoto, spend two nights there, shink back to Tokyo, spend 3 nights there, then fly from there to Beijing.
The way it actually worked: Fly into Tokyo arriving around 8pm, get to Tokyo Stn at almost 9:30pm with sense of doom and dread, having checked the shinkansen schedule on the Narita Express from the airport and thereby confirming that all shinkansens to Kyoto had departed for the night. Therefore, we have nowhere to stay.
Given that Japan is not the place to be for spur-of-the-moment travel plans and changes, and I was the only person in the group who spoke any Japanese at all, I really didn’t have any idea how we were going to deal with this. First, we got out my 4-years-out-of-date guide book, which said that there was a hotel right outside the Marunouchi side of the station. This was, of course, the other side of the station, and much of the inside of the station appears to be under renovation right now, so we made a somewhat confusing trek all the way over, kids tired and probably somewhat scared that we had nowhere to sleep, and also complaining about having to drag all the luggage.
We exit onto the sidewalk outside the indicated Marunouchi exit and do not see the hotel. There is a lot of construction stuff around, and it is entirely possible that the hotel is gone. We look confused. We decide to consult the officers at the police box right next to us. They speak very minimal English. I speak very minimal Japanese relevant to this situation. A miracle occurs in the form of a passing helpful Japanese man who happens to speak extremely fluent English. He and perhaps as many as five Japanese police officers confer for a while, and we eventually end up booked into a nearby, less expensive hotel.
That such a thing exists near Tokyo Stn is also something of a miracle. We never would have found it on our own. It was called the Hotel Haimaat (High Mart). I am fairly convinced that it is intended for drunken businessmen who miss their last train home. Two of the rooms had bunk beds for two people, and one room, mine was a single. These were possibly the world’s most efficient (read: small) hotel rooms. Well, almost. My boss asked if this was actually a capsule hotel, and I had to assure her that it certainly was not.
The two pictures below show the entirety of my room, minus the bathroom, because I am leaning against its door to take the pictures.
Tininess aside, it was definitely all I needed and more. The bathroom contained extra razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, not to mention a perfectly adequate shower/tub (in the Japanese sense) combination, sink, and toilet. I gratefully showered, changed into my pajamas, and slept.