(full) day 1 – lalaport

Having gone to bed at 9:30, I was not surprised to get up rather early.  However, I also woke up around 2:30am and finally decided to get up around 4:30am.  Turns out everyone else had the same problem.  Our host had messaged me to say he was coming over at 8:30am if we would be up and so I of course let him know that would be fine.

We sat around the small coffee table playing games on our phones or, in my case, writing yesterday’s blog.  I was still writing it when our host showed up.  I had a question about the little stovetop thing in the kitchen and he showed me how easy it is to operate.  I think I’ll do a separate post about this place, it’s pretty unique and cool; thankful to have our own place to come back to everyday.

Jason and I had some small gifts from home and presented them to him.  I think he was surprised, which made me happy.  Gift-giving is kind of a big deal in Japan and I am very appreciative that we’re able to stay here.  He had offered to take us to Fujino and we solidified our plans to go on the 4th, leaving here at 7:30am.

After he left we stayed here for a little longer (you might have seen how long yesterday’s post was) before heading out to get brunch and then heading to LaLaport Tokyo-Bay.  It was about 10:45am by the time we got to McDonald’s.  There were more traditional Japanese places around, but we were too hungry to try and navigate.

Finishing our food and discovering that the train we wanted was to leave in about 4 minutes, we decided to go back to Seiyu to see what some of the other floors had to offer.  We only made it up to 4th floor (shoes and electronics) before having to head back to the station.  Our train was delayed, but we weren’t sure by how long, so we stood in the pretty frigid air for about 10 minutes.  It was raining again too, but there was a nice overhang at the station.

cold but happy

our train station

We didn’t get lost when transferring several lines, though we did end up on a local line (makes every stop), instead of the rapid (skips some stops).  Still trying to figure out the schedule.  The last line was a little confusing.  We only needed to go one stop, but the app said that it was on either side of the platform.  Maybe we could have gotten there with either train, but we ended up waiting for the second one.

Once we got off the train, there were signs directing traffic to LaLaport, so helpful!  We walked under the giant overpasses where freeway traffic lumbered above, and then an elevated walkway directly to the 2nd floor of the mall.

I was struck by how white and bright everything was.  The storefronts seemed to flow right into each other, not really having distinctive separation between stores.  Further in there was distinctive separation.  The mall was separated into two main sections running parallel, with some storefront walkways connecting them here and there.  We didn’t walk through it all, but we did walk through a good portion and it was huge.

Japan is known for many things, among them the prolific amount of vending machines.  We came across a slew of toy vending machines, stacked two or three high, with an indication of the possible items inside.  There were a few cat ones and I finally settled on the cat bread-face one.  Here’s what I got:

“in-bread,” haha

Sierra and Riley were in the Pokemon store for a bit while I made my decision and then wondered through a home decor store.  Jason’s co-worker had requested a salt and pepper shaker set so we were on the lookout.  We finally found them at Daiso.

salt and pepper, respectively

I had been pretty hungry and wanted to find somewhere to eat and drink something.  While we had our water bottle, it’s rude to eat or drink while walking around, so I had tried to refrain.  We found one place that looked promising, but they told us that they were closing at 3pm and it was 2:30 at that point.  We ended up at Ducky Duck and couldn’t decipher the menu, so just ordered dessert.  The ice cream wasn’t super sweet and I enjoyed the different flavor.

yummm

We were also looking for a video game for another friend, and found it in the Toys R Us.  Having accomplished two of our three missions (salt and pepper shakers being the first, and finding a good gift for another friend as the third), we started to head back.

While we had been inside the sun came out.  Yay!  The crazy cold wind had also stopped so the wait on the train platform wasn’t too bad.  We had to wait for a few trains to come and go before getting on ours.  We went the one stop and then transferred lines.  Unlike our travel to LaLaport, this time we got on the rapid and were able to make it to our transfer station within 40 minutes.

Riley wanted to eat at a real Japanese restaurant.  When we exited the subterranean train station, we were faced with a few options.  I spotted a curry place across the street and was able to “convince” everyone we should go there.  We crossed the street and entered the narrow space to take our seats.  The one staff member pointed to the machine at the entrance, and tried to explain with lots of gestures that we were to order from the machine before sitting down.  He had a menu with some English and we used it to figure out what we wanted.  Unfortunately, we had used the last of our ¥1,000 bills at the train station and were left with not enough coins, and bills that were too large.  We ended up going to a drug store down the street to get the bill split.  I tried to get the employee to just give us change in smaller bills (thank you, Google translate, for making that conversation much less painful!) but she said we had to purchase something.  I found a toothbrush for ¥100 and got our change.  Riley got some hand soap and we were back to curry.

Oh.my.gosh.  It was so yummy!  It was a little too spicy for me, I think I had 5 or 6 cups of water, but mmmm, it was tasty.  I had decided not to be vegetarian on this trip as I figured this would make eating much easier.  But honestly I have been eating around the meat.  The only thing I haven’t done this with is the McDonald’s chicken nuggets.  Because nuggets.  We’ll see how this goes.

We tried to go back to the station from whence we came, but there were no signs for our transfer.  We looked at a few maps, and a man who had been in the restaurant came up and asked if we needed help.  He told us to go back outside and walk down the street.  I thought he had said “take a right,” so we walked a few blocks before realizing that was definitely not what he meant.  We went back to the station to re-look at the map.  Unlike US maps, Japanese maps are turned so that the direction you are facing is up.  We figured out that we needed to take a left and quickly found the right station.

We got back on the wrong/right train we had been on the day before, and were thankful we had gotten on when we did, as the end of the line means everyone else gets off and we get to sit.  When we went back to the previous station, a ton of people came on and we were extra thankful for our seats.  This train helpfully had a screen showing us which stops were next.  I realized that we’d gotten on the right line but the wrong train, the end destination was not the one we wanted.  It shared the same stops as the one we wanted, up until the stop before ours.  Which meant that we got off at the stop before ours to transfer to the next train and then take it one more stop.  Ugh.

We got back to our station after 9pm and made the cold walk back home.  We only sat around briefly before climbing into bed at 10pm.

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