Arrival

My Mission: Pass Japanese customs, get my backpack and get to my hotel.

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My Mission:  Pass Japanese customs, get my backpack and get to my hotel.

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Fortunately, the supremely efficient Japanese present me with a flowchart in four languages.

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Heading to Baggage Claim

Passing Customs is a breeze.  It’s all very efficient, with signs in english at every location. The local time is about 5 p.m., but at home it’s past midnight.  I follow the signs to baggage claim, passing by a sign in english proudly offering me cash at the 7-Eleven ATM.  Mental Note: ATM withdrawals are free at domestic 7-Eleven.

Passing Customs and Immigration I am free in Japan

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Navigating the airport, I pass an information desk with this helpful young lady.

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“Information Please”

In the USA, these information desks are seemingly staffed by unpaid volunteers that may or may not have a clue.  However, this is Japan.  The attendants have more then a clue.  They speak excellent english and she provides me with exact directions to Osaka Station, timetables, maps and everything.  It’s an hour to Osaka.

My next stop is the JR Railpass Office to activate my JR Railpass.  It takes about ten minutes to find it, but only a minute to activate my Railpass.

On the way out of the JR Office, I pass by “free wifi” table, but the “free” part requires a purchase.  Besides, my AT&T iPhone isn’t unlocked.

The train is an hour to downtown Osaka.  A young lady who was also on my flight, sits with me.  She has flown in from Chicago to SFO, then on to Osaka.  Her husband is an American Citizen, she is returning to visit family.

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“Hajimemashite”

The train calls out each stop in Japanese and English.  All the signs on the train system are in multiple languages: Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English.

At Osaka Station, I find the taxi stand.

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Standard Taxi in Japan

A white-gloved taxi with lace seat covers whisks me to my hotel.  Driving a taxi is an honorable profession in Japan.  The driver doesn’t speak english, but it’s not necessary  “Hearton Hotel Kudasai.” I pay with credit card.

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It’s about 6 p.m. local time, 2 a.m. San Francisco time, I’ve been on travel for sixteen hours.  I want to relax.

At the hotel… I am greeted by the Japanese version of the western toilet.  The Japanese have improved it by adding heat and water.

Heated toilet seats, with a shower for your backside… White gloved taxi drivers… Not a lot of money.

This is heaven.

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Author: Cultural Explorer

Multi-Day Thru-Hiker. Cultural Explorer. Traveler of thousand-year old trails. Cool forests of Japan, South America, North America and Europe. The East and the West.

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