Our partner company in Tokyo (Hachiochi, actually - a suburb) had an interpreter named Mariko on-staff to facilitate our meetings. Having done some breakneck research, I sent her an email telling her I intended to extend my stay by a few days and asking if she could assist me in finding a ryokan, which according to my tour books was the traditional Japanese equivalent to an American bed & breakfast, and which had the potential to be reasonably priced.
A day or so later, I received an email from her saying something to the effect of "...if I were to book you into a ryokan, you'd be sleeping on the floor and eating Japanese food. Obviously, that's not what you want, so I booked you into a western hotel instead."
Well, a few more emails straightened that out, and I was all set for the Komatsu Ryokan, in downtown Ueno, a place I'd never even heard of. But she'd faxed me a map showing how to get there from the Japan Rail station, so the whole thing seemed manageable... or at least possible.
The big day rolled around quickly, and I found myself sitting in 31A of a JAL Boeing 747, heading west.
The trip was a long one. Morning started for me at about at 7:00 AM in New York, so I would have enough time to get to JFK. In this direction we chase the sun, resulting in observed daylight for more than 24 hours. As advised in my copy of Overcoming Jet Lag. I tried to fake sleep until it was morning in Tokyo, and then fake waking up.
With about five hours of the flight to go, I reflect on the fact that
the rest of my group had indicated to me there was s a tight connection
with the bus to Hachoiji, and that I was kind of stupid to check my suitcase.
They've threatened to go ahead without me, as the next bus is two hours
later. But they're kidding... I think. We'll see how it plays out.
The train ride was about 2-1/2 hours, but eventually we made it to Hachioji,
and our hotel. Keio Plaza is a typical upscale western businessman's
hotel, with the usual amenities, plus some distinctly European ones, but
pretty much devoid of anything obviously Japanese (except for the robe,
slippers, and instant green tea (!) provided). Its adjacent to a shopping
center attached to the railroad station, which should certainly be worth
a visit. And of course, no visit to anywhere is complete without a tour
of at least one supermarket. But at the moment, my biggest challenge has
been staying awake, and as I need to win that challenge tomorrow, I'm opting
for sleep now.