A not very pleasant night where I had a more than broken sleep in a bus took me to Tokyo. It was 7 am and the priority was to get to the Chinese visa centre, which I wasn’t sure where exactly it was, how to find the address or how to get there by metro. It took me almost 2 hours to get there, not because it was far but because I had to take time to find my way. First, I found the closest and biggest train station from the bus stop. That was easy. Then, after asking a couple of times for information and a map to the guard at the station, I spent a long long while looking at the ticket machines to find out where the station I was looking for was and how much I had to pay, so I could introduce the corresponding amount in the machine and get my ticket. I couldn’t find absolutely anything. The face I make when I try to read Japanese attracted some expat that offered me the help I was needing. He introduced the information I had in some app in his phone and got the result. And there, I understood why I couldn’t find my way: the stop I was looking for was not part of the lines and systems I had with my, in the map or on the information panel at the station. After that precious information, I picked the station given by the app where I was supposed to change and made my way there and decided to walk the rest to avoid further hassle.
The next thing, after finding out which platform and train I would be taking, was to get in a train that was completely full because it was rush hour with backpacks included. I found it naturally easy and made my way without a problem inside the train and even got a seat for the last two stops! But when I left the train and made my way to the area I was looking for, I was facing a different problem: I don’t understand the way Japanese addresses are written and have no idea where to look for the building i was looking for. I asked in a convenience store. Neither did they. But it was my lucky day and after finding Wi-Fi I entered the name of the building in Google maps and it just came up. Yay!
I made to my destination a bit before 9, which was exactly what I wanted to make sure I was there before they open and I get stuck in some que. By the time they opened and it was my turn, they checked my documents twice and they asked for a residence card? Um….what?! I made sure not twice but three times I could apply for the visa as a tourist. They explained the system was not admiting this on this day and asked me to come back on Monday. So inconvenient! I was going to visit my Japanese friend in Niigata on Monday for a few days! Noooo!
I explained to them my situation to see what we could do. They checked again every single document and asked me to come back on Monday. I was keeping everything in my bag and putting order in my thoughts when I came up with the idea of asking them if it would be possible to leave them everything and they would process it on Monday. But nope, not a chance. I used my pitty face but made my mind. I would have to change my plans. And I took my backpack and made my way to the elevators and just then one of the ladies came after me and said okay, okay, we do it today and process it on Monday. Haaappy days! At the time I was leaving everything there and signing stuff and they were checking my documents again they insisted on the 90% of warranties of this happening and that I should keep an eye to email on Monday. This was up t the Chinese embassy and they couldn’t warranty anything 100%. So my happy thoughts were 90% happy which is not too bad but could be better because the remembrance of battle with Russia was still fresh enough.
Once that was done my day was free of charges and I could just walk in the direction to the hostel because I was refusing to find out how the hell to get there by public transport. By walking, I got to pass by the business area. So many people in working clothes made feel like working. But then I thought well, I also feel like a vermouth and I am not having it. It will pass. And it passed in less than 10 minutes.
Finally, I arrived to the hostel to find nobody at reception and the check in not available until a couple of hours after. So I left my backpack and made my way upstairs to the common area to have something to eat, chill and have a nap in the sofa. An hour nap made me feel like checking in and having another nap in my bed but instead I decided to have a walk and clear my head. I walked towards the area where I heard there were a few weird Japanese stuff and on my way I had the first Japanese person interacting freely with me. He asked me where I was from and commented on how much he liked paella and how similar Spanish and Japanese food are. I didn’t have enough energies to answer to that comment and decided to agree passively. And after saying goodbye I found myself changed my direction towards the old part of Tokyo. Fine. I saw a big red temple and an open food market along with lots of tourists and decided that I was in a very touristy part. After a while I made my way back but just when I had been walking only a few minutes, I heard some music and decided to go towards the music and see what it was about. I found a procession, quite lively and different from what I had seen before in Kyoto and even reminded me to those in Spain. When the last one passed, I could do nothing else but join them and follow it, to find out more about it. I followed them for two hours and at the last part I went ahead to check on the first one and see where they were actually going. And we ended up in the temple, the big red temple where I had been before and where I waited for the two first of them to arrive. That was enough, I was really really tired and needed rest and sleep because I wouldn’t be on my own the next day and I had yo take advantage of it.
The next day I woke up to meet Osman, my host in Tokyo. I had several requests before but mainly they were inconvenient or truly inconvenient. A couple of people that were offering a space in their bed. Which I appreciate that they share whatever they have but it is not my idea of couchsurfing to be spooning with a stranger. I thought I was open minded but I might not be as much as I thought. Osman had no reviews and therefore I couldn’t really know much about him but I was there once too and someone took me in so I decided to give it an opportunity and if not, take my things and sleep somewhere else. It was not going to be the end of the world, although I was taking my chances.
By the time I got to his place, a little late because it was really hard to find for me, I found a wonderful Kurdish man that was teaching Turkish cuisine at his apartment. We had breakfast together and then his students started to arrive. I left the apartment to give them some space because everything was already tight and visited the surroundings of the Imperial Palace and some gardens. But after a while I came back to his place because I was invited to have lunch with them. And so I did to enjoy of a fantastic full Turkish meal including a burger that deserves to be mentioned because I had not eaten a proper burger since… I don’t know maybe 8 months maybe more. So it was a special moment to try the wet Istanbul burger.
It was also very nice to have lunch in such a peculiar company and be part of this Japanese group of students and their sensei, who speaks perfect Japanese and was helping me to be part of the conversation. I also thought it was a funny situation I was not expecting but I was having a great time.
By the time the students finished tea time and left, Osman offered to bring me somewhere and we visited the rest of Tokyo that I hadn’t seen yet. We were in the busiest road crossing of the world (nothing to envy to the Gran Via in Madrid at Christmas time, seriously), the parts where young people were hanging out and we sat to see people walk. We also visited the party areas, with all these bright lights everywhere and checked the robot restaurant as famous as expensive it is. After that, we came back home and he made a delicious dinner, something quite like a kebab that was amazing to finish to day. He was lovely and his food was lovely, and made me feel comfortable and fine at all times. I was so happy I decided to meet him and stay at his place!
And that was a quick but nice experience in Tokyo because next morning I said see you later to Osman and Tokyo and made my way to the bus station to get to Navajo, where I would be meeting my friend Ryota, finally!! This is the part of my journey in Japan that I had been waiting so much!