Day 1 (Travel from the airport)

Objective: Travel from the airport to Kazu’s mom’s house
Leaving Victoria's Airport for Japan!

Narita to the Tokyo Shinkansen

In Japan at the airport!
After our 10 hour flight we arrived at Narita airport an hour and a half east of Tokyo.  It was 3pm Japan time, and 11pm in Canada.  This was the plan:  We were going to travel to Ootsu, a town east of Kyoto to stay with Kazu’s mom Shinko for 2 nights. (Kazu is our roommate from Victoria) Kazu had written down and printed out maps for us on how to get to Kyoto station, and from there, his mom was to meet us and take us back to her place.  The only thing was that Kazu told us she didn’t speak English, and our Japanese was very limited.  We knew that we had to take a train to Tokyo station, but it was very difficult to figure out which trains were going where.  
                We first phoned Kazu’s mom, to let her know that we had arrived and she was going to calculate how long it would take us to get to Kyoto station to make sure she was there to meet us.  Kazu had written down a few sentences for Ben to say to her in Japanese on the phone.  The conversation went like this.  Ben: “Moshi moshi, Is this Shinko San?” Shinko: “Yes, its Shinko.” Ben: “We have arrived at Narita.”  Shinko: “ok”….click.  Straight to the point.
"Is that our train??" "I'm not sure.."

   We took 2 subway trains from Narita to Shinagawa in Tokyo.  It was very scary figuring out which station to get off at because the announcements on the subway are all in Japanese.  The train station in Tokyo is crazy.  We couldn’t read the signs and there were swarms of people running around everywhere in different directions.  Not to mention it was past 1am in Canada and we were already travelling on very little sleep from our hectic week of packing, exams, and concerts the few days before we left.  We snaked our way through the crowds with our luggage, and managed to find the bullet train (Shinkansen) headed for Kyoto station.  

Light crowds in a Tokyo train station
    Looking around, we’d only see the occasional person that was non-Japanese even in a station with thousands of people walking around.  I was also surprised to see that about 1 in 10 people were wearing white face masks  – the kind that go across your mouth and nose and are kept on by elastic bands around your ears.  We later found out that its common to see that with people even just walking around the streets in Kyoto.  I guess they are super concerned about germs here.


 Tokyo Shinkansen to Kyoto then Ootsu

Inside the Shinkansen
    The bullet train was a 2 hour ride, but we were afraid of falling asleep for fear of missing our stop at Kyoto station.  Finally we arrived at Kyoto station and we saw a woman holding up a picture of what definitely looked like the two of us.  Kazu had obviously sent it to her from facebook.  It was Shinko San, and even better, she spoke some English!  We were so relieved and I gave her a hug right away.  She’d been waiting there for an hour and a half because we took so long getting there.  We took another train with her to Ootsu, and then walked up a narrow street to her house.  We were sooooo tired.

Her house is typical Japanese style.  It really felt like we were in Japan.  The walls are all sliding doors and upstairs she had laid out futons for us on tatami mats.  The toilet has a spray that comes up from inside it, and a sink on the top of it.  The shower is just a hose with a showerhead on it.  We first sat around the table and had some food.  The table was typical Japanese style – a foot and a half off the ground and you sit around it on cushions cross-legged.  We then headed straight to bed and slept like rocks.
Two very tired Canadians arrive in Japan

Ben and Kailey lived in Japan not too long ago and also visit Kyoto every year.

Ben is developing a Japanese Practice site. It's current main functions are:
1. a Flash Card system that features a leveling system where you must answer correctly and "level up"to gain new cards, receive money and buy new decks - anime decks included!
2. Fill in the Blank system where you can choose to focus on particle practice or verb practice etc.
Japanese Practice Blog is here. Check out the Japanese Practice site here


  1. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to be trying to figure out which train to go on! That would've been really stressful. At least you guys have each other to problem solve!

  2. Yea! It was really crazy at that time. In retrospect the trains went really smoothly, we didn't get on any wrong trains, got on the right trains going in the right direction, and didn't really get lost in the stations. But it did take us longer than it could have; but really, that's the worst thing that can happen - which isn't too terrible in my mind. Yes! It is fantastic to travel together :).


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