Haneda then home.

NOTE: This blog post is the final, and long overdue chapter of my 2011 trip. (I feel I should add at this point, that I wasn’t taking too many photos inside the airport. I was focused on getting cleaned up, eating and getting to my plane on time.)


I had contemplated the idea of taking the train to Haneda (so as to have a chance to enjoy the Yamanote Line one more time) but in the end, decided that I really just didn’t have the energy to drag my bags through Shinjuku Station, onto the Yamanote Line, and then transfer at Hamamatsucho to the monorail. So instead, I made a reservation on the “Friendly Limousine” bus that departed right from the Keio Plaza and it was the right choice for sure. The ride was nice and short, delivering me to Haneda in no time. Once there, I got off, collected my luggage and headed inside to check in for my flight.

After checking in, I decided that I needed to take a shower and get myself cleaned up for the flight home. So, I made my way down to the arrival level to do just that. However, it turned out that they were all booked for the next half hour, so I made a reservation and headed back up to the departure level and then up to the restaurant level to have a look around. Haneda has a fantastic area that open just a couple years ago that’s packed with restaurants and shops.


I wandered past the shops and restaurants (including a Hello Kitty store and an electric car racetrack) and found the outside observation deck. I thought I’d have a look at the planes. Immediately in front of me, I could see my plane waiting at it’s gate. ANA flight 1006.


It was now time to head back inside for my shower reservation, from which I subsequently emerged refreshed and ready for my flight. Of course I should add that as soon as I walked out of the shower facility, I instantly began sweating. My flight was leaving at 12:05am and it was about 10:00pm at this point. So, next up, dinner.

I went back up to where I had just been before the shower and found a restaurant that was still open, and wandered in. The restaurants all seemed to close at 10:00pm, so the one I found was the best one still open- which turned out to be a great choice. The menu was simple and I had a wonderful steak, with mashed potatoes, salad and a drink.


After eating, I passed this smoking room and found it rather interesting. I guess the vent at the bottom of the glass wall lets the clean air in, that then gets sucked out through vents in the ceiling? And the frosted glass was(is) amusing as it made it look far smokier than I think it actually was- I hope.



Next, it was down to security. After passing through immigration, I made a quick stop at the gift shop to pick up a few food gifts (including this awesome chocolate that my wife loves) and headed to my gate. Then, after a short wait at the gate, it was down the jetway and onto 777-200ER that was my ride home…

This was an amazing trip that still lives vividly in my mind. I’m going to be writing more about it as well as my most recent trip to Japan in 2013 on my new blog- more info on that soon!

And finally, for all of you who have been following this trip from the beginning, I thank you so much for your patience!

Stay tuned…

Yoyogi Park and the final day…


(Let me apologize for the huge gap in time between my last post and now.) 

Sunday morning was here (the final day of my trip) and I woke up finding it very difficult to get out of bed. The alarm went off at 9am, and I forced myself to stay awake by turning on the TV. After a half hour, I finally dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and did the last bit of packing.

Then it was time to eat some breakfast. I brewed some coffee, via the instant drip coffee provided in the room, and ate the last of the yogurt with Frosties.  And as I sat eating, I could see a ceremony (or performance involving drums) taking place on the street far below. I wish I had known about it, I would have tried to get up earlier to see it. Oh well.

With breakfast eaten, it was time to call home but it was now 10:50am and I had to checkout by 11am. So instead, I took a few last pictures of the room, bid it farewell and hurried to the elevators.

I checked out, left my luggage with the bellhop and found a quiet spot in the hotel lobby to call home. As we talked I decided that it was time to sample the Yamazaki brand Hot Cake Sand or ホットケーキサンド, that I had been carrying around since my visit to Koyasan six days earlier. Why I hadn’t eaten it yet I couldn’t really say.


I opened it up with great anticipation! What great deliciousness lay inside- butter and syrupy goodness perhaps? In fact…no, it was pretty terrible, no deliciousness at all. Maybe because it was three days a past it’s suggested freshness date? I doubt that, I think it would have been just as bad if I had eaten the day I bought it.

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Shinjuku: Kabukicho and Piss Alley


I arrived at Shinjuku Station tired, but in no way ready to go back to my hotel. I exited  the station and decided to head towards the Kabukicho area, just to the north of station, with the hope of finding something interesting.

Emerging from the station, I found myself on Shinjuku-dori (Shinjuku Street) facing the local landmark, Studio Alta. (Studio Alta is mostly know for the massive TV screen that adorns the front of the building. But it’s also a shopping center with a TV station located on the top floor. I’ve never actually gone inside Studio Alta in all the times I’ve been in Shinjuku, not sure why. Next time I suppose.)

After a short wait for the light to change at the crosswalk, I made my way further north, walking through the small streets and alleys packed with restaurants and arcades until I reached Yasukuni-dori where, on the opposite side of the street, resided the famed Kabukicho area.  And marking the entrance to it, was the familiar (to me) big, red illuminated gate.


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Rainy Shibuya

Riding the Yamanote line train to Shibuya (from Tokyo Tower), gave me a chance to rest my feet and let my mind wander. I started thinking maybe I should go back to my hotel and drop off some unnecessary gear, but quickly dismissed the idea, as going all the way back to Shinjuku just to turn around and come back to Shibuya (which I was going to be passing right through) would’ve been a waste of time on the final night of this trip.

Nonstop to Shibuya it would be.

The ride was quick and I exited out of Shibuya station via the entrance near the statue of Hachiko the dog, adjacent to the huge (and famous) intersection known as “Hachiko Crossing”. I was surprised to see that it had again been raining while I was on the train (like it had earlier on my way to Ueno.) The ground was now nice and shiny, and wet. It was going to be raining again soon, that was for sure.

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