Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2009/02/22 Narita Airport, Narita Express, Tokyo Station, Tamachi Station

On my third visit to Tokyo, I’ve become comfortable with navigating from Narita International Airport to my hotel near Tamachi station.  Arrving around 5 p.m. in the evening, here’s what the trip looks like into Terminal 1 (for the Star Alliance carriers).

As with most huge airports, passengers debark from the aircraft to face a long walk to the terminal.

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Speedwalks in the terminal make the walk easier.  I passed by thermal monitors on the lookout for fevers, right before the lineups at immigration and luggage carousels.

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Exiting the baggage area, my first stop takes me on a turn right.  Since my mobile phone from Canada hasn’t worked in Japan, I order a local mobile phone via ANA Skyweb for pickup, a week before the scheduled flight.

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At the end of the terminal, the Ana sky porter had a mobile phone with my name on a list.

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Turning around to come back through the centre of the terminal, I passed by the main escalator down to the trains.

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There’s another wing of the terminal farther along, but my destination was the ATMs just to the left.

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In Japan, credit cards are widely accepted, but it always pays to have a little cash for lunch and incidentals.

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Just by the ATMs at this arrivals level, there are escalators down to the ticket hall.

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Downstairs, local residents are likely to purchase their train tickets from the banks of automated machines . For foreigners, there’s another option.

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To the right of the machines is a ticket counter.  Visitors with foreign passwords are entitled to purchase the Suica + N’Ex card, at a discount.  The Suica card eases boarding trains on the variety of companies in the Tokyo area easy, by allowing entry with a card swipe instead of a ticket obtained by pouring change into an automated ticket machine.  The N’Ex card makes the ride into Tokyo on the Narita Express effectively “free” with the discount.  The fare can be paid with a credit card, and the deposit on the card is refunded on its return to the airport.

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After buying the card, the gates to the train are at the other end of the hall.

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The platform to board trains is another level down on an escalator.

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The specific platform and boarding time was printed on the ticket, and shown by the clerk at the ticket office.

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Taking the express train means that I wouldn’t be making any stops, as listed on the schedule on the platform.

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The ticket also specifies the seat in the car on the train, corresponding to the markers on the file floor.

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The inbound train paused for a few minutes, to allow boarding for at a leisurely pace.

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By the door, there was an area to store baggage.  I’ve learned that most Japanese ship their luggage to the aiport rather than dragging them onto trains as do foreigners.

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The seating on the Narita Express is like on airplanes … with a little more legroom.

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After slightly less than an hour of looking out the window at pitch black darkness and then some city lights, the Narita Express arrived at Tokyo Station.

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Getting from the airport train underground up to the city trains on elevated platforms means riding several elevators.

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My instructions to Tamachi had directed me to the Yamamote Line on Track 5.  This is a line that runs a circular path around the city.  I wanted to go towards Shinagawa and Shibuya.

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On the Yamanote line platform, the overhead signs reported the wait for the next trains.

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Just to instill confidence, I also referred to the listing of next stops timed by minutes.

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The Yamanote line has benches facing each other, with a wide path down the middle for standing room at rush hour.  The cars are linked with so that advertising posters down the length of the train are visible.

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Arriving at Tamachi station, I took the escalators up to the ticket hall.

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Arriving on a weekend evening, the station was relatively quiet.

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Exiting the gates, I turned towards the east exit of the station.  This direction passes over the train tracks.

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Tamachi station is open to the outdoors, with overhead cover extended down the escalators.

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There’s fewer restaurants immediately on the east side of the train station.  By the compass, the sidewalk actually leads southeast.

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The Tamachi campus of the Tokyo Institute of Technology was lit up that evening.

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At the first intersection, I turned right onto Shibaura Unga Dori, heading southwest.

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Japanese sidewalks typically have a yellow tiled section to aid the visually impaired maintain a straight path.  They’re less helpful for a visitor dragging trolley cases.

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Halfway down the street, the office towers gradually came into sight.

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At the corner is the Granpark tower, with a grocery store and some restaurants in the basement.

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Across the street was my regular destination when staying in Tokyo, the Villa Fontaine Mita.

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There’s one entry for the office tower, and another for the hotel.  The hotel has a checki-in counter on the ground floor, and then rooms up on the top levels.

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Settling in the hotel is usually happens around dinner time in the Tokyo time zone,.   My body is confused from travelling from Eastern Time, 14 hours into the next day and across the international date line.  I usually pick up a few things at the grocery store, and try to sleep early to ease into the Tokyo time.

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