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Published: August 23rd 2018
Friday 31st March
Just after 0900hrs we were on the train headed for Narita, where we will spend our last 2 nights in Japan before heading home. We have become 'experts' using the train system and after only two transfers we covered about 750kms and arrived at our hotel at about 1500hrs. The Japan Rail Pass has certainly paid for itself over the last 3 weeks and we would recommend it to all travellers coming here. We had a booking at the Hedistar Hotel, the room here not as nice as the one we left in Aomori but ok for what we needed. One thing that was very lacking was the efficiency and pleasantness of the reception staff. There was only one person on duty, she was busy with another couple but didn't even acknowledge that we were there. No greeting when she did finally serve us and then only with a sour face. It was the worst reception we have had in Japan and either some training in PR was required or a replacement needed to be found. We were both very disappointed to have experienced this on our final stay in this wonderful country.
Both of us needed to do something after sitting for so long, so we explored the nearby Aeon shopping complex. Nice modern place, similar to what we had seen before but it was something to do. At the supermarket there we did buy some nibbles and pre-prepared food, we were too tired from the journey to go out for dinner. After a shower and a few drinks and food, we felt much better and spent the evening with the usual tasks such as work and blog respectively.
Saturday 1st March
Our final day in Japan. We are both fairly tired at the moment with all the travelling and walking done over the last three weeks and even though we have enjoyed our time here in Japan, we are also looking forward to getting home and living a more normal life for a while. Neither of us was very motivated to go out this morning but we knew we had to do something. Rags had done some research on how to get to the main town in the Fuji 5 lakes area before we left, so even though it was raining we set off. Mt Fuji may or may not be visible in this weather.
All went well with the train timetable he had worked out but we both started questioning the quickness of the trip, knowing Mt Fuji was some distance from Tokyo. We arrived at Kawaguchi, the forecourt of the station being very modern with plenty of shops and entertainment areas facing it. We looked in all directions but couldn't spot the mountain or any of the lakes. Whilst having a coffee to revive us and to get out of the rain, we did a Google map and information search. Then the penny dropped. We were in Kawaguchi, the area we wanted was Lake Kawaguchi, and this was 114kms away! That's what comes from making assumptions when travelling.
By then we didn't feel like travelling much further so back on a train and we got off at Akihabara. This area was just booming with life, loud music, crowds of young people everywhere, the buildings covered in banners and brightly coloured signs. The town is known for the youth culture there, anime, games, light novels and comic books were on sale everywhere, with hundreds of youths buying and perusing them. We couldn't really understand why they were buying small toy-like figures and cars, this being part of something we have no knowledge of. But then we found something we were comfortable in as we found stalls everywhere selling electronic parts and gizmos. We spent quite a while browsing in some of these and a few of our last yen were spent on a wide angle for the phone, selfie stick (which we haven't been able to get to work, a usb port (which works a treat) and a telephone holder for Rags bike. Rags did get a little peeved when he saw a display of Kyocera ceramic knives at a very competitive price to the one he bought.
We had lunch in this area, walking out of one cafe because the waiter firstly ignored us, and then refused to allow a variation of a lunch 'set'. No problem, we walked 50 metres and ate elsewhere. This was a shishkabob stall, run by a very pleasant Japanese Turk. At least, that's what we thought he was. Both of us are 'riced out' and it was nice to eat something different and so tasty.
From there we caught the train to Ginza, where we went in 2002 on our first visit. We found the huge Sony building where they displayed many of their current devices, spread over 4 or 5 storeys. Today, on the ground floor, there was a display by Nissan. Their electric vehicles and a current sports car were overshadowed by the display of their car of the future. A very futuristic looking vehicle which from the accompanying audio-visual display would be both self-driving or driven by you, depending on your wishes. High performance, very safe, very green etc, of course.
Onto the train again, our Japan Rail Passes really getting a hammering. Two express trains waiting for us, one which didn't stop at Narita but continued to Narita Airport, and the other which looked like the one we went on this morning. Wrong! We took that train and about 30 minutes into the journey realised it wasn't heading in the right direction. Luckily we were using our rental wifi unit, it showed where we were going, we did a quick research on stations ahead of us and how to get to Narita from Chiba where the train terminated. Onto another train, and we had a few anxious moments before recognising it was going in the right direction. By the time we left Narita station we had been on the move for 9 hours. No wonder our bodies were hurting and we felt tired.
A refresh and a drink had us ready to go out for our last meal in Japan. Volk's, a steakhouse near the hotel was our venue, and even though the meat only a small helping (200gms) together with the soup, breads and salads, and the cheerful waitress, it was a fitting finale. We had an early night, the transfer bus leaves the hotel at 0630hrs for our flight home.
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