My summer didn’t quite go as planned. But luckily it included a bit more adventure.
When some of my summer plans fell through I got into contact with a friend who was interning in Tokyo and who (pretty much as soon as she got in Tokyo) kept telling me to visit. So I bought a last minute (somewhat expensive ticket for 4 (really 2) days in Tokyo. I flew out of Incheon into Narita. The flight from Seoul to Tokyo isn’t that long. Just a little over 2 hours with plenty of snacks and barely enough time for a movie. But getting to and from the airport ate up all my time and rounded out to about 12 hours of traveling.
I’ve been lucky that so far that wherever I go there’s someone to pick me up at the airport. Be it that my friends got out of work early to pick me up, or the program I’m there for/with sent a car. So being thrown instantly into having to figure out how to get from point A to point B on my own in a foreign country was daunting. Especially when everyone has warned you against a taxi (too expensive).
So I logged into the airport wifi, told my friend I had arrived, found an information desk, told them where I had to go and asked how I could get there. Luckily the Narita airport is really cool about their information desks. If they’re busy or no one is there they have screens where you select your language and you’ll be able to do a video call with someone who may be at a whole other part of the airport. The information booth I went to wasn’t busy yet, so I didn’t get a chance to test it out. They gave me directions to get to the trains and told me which trains to take. Chicago and Seoul have spoiled me on cheapish airport transit. To get from Narita to Shibuya it was a bit over $10.
I took the Keisei train line which has about three options that go to Nippori and Ueno where you can then transfer to another line. Several leave from the same platform so you have to make sure you get on the train that has the same time as your ticket. These trains are a bit more expensive, mine was about 1,240 yen. At Nippori I switched to the JR Yamanote line and took that to where I was meeting my friend in Shibuya. Luckily the transportation in Tokyo, like in Korea, has it’s signs and announcements in English.
Getting around Tokyo wasn’t as difficult as I had originally feared. The machines for tickets had a foreign language option. I had to buy a ticket for each ride since I was only in Tokyo for a short period of time. Most of my travels on the subway were on the JR Yamanote line and thus the prices fluctuated around 200 yen. Unless you leave money on your ticket or pay a bit too much you don’t get to keep them, you use them to exit the station and it gets eaten.