Kami Watch Over Me (Japan Day 35 – Tokyo/Edmonton)

Kami Watch Over Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 – Thursday, Oct 20 2022 to Friday, Oct 21 2022Flight from Edmonton to TokyoEdmontonTokyo
Day 1 – Saturday, Oct 22 2022Saitama, IkebukuroTokyoTokyo
Day 2 – Sunday, Oct 23 2022Autumn Reitaisai 9, ShinjukuTokyoTokyo
Day 3 – Monday, Oct 24 2022AkihabaraTokyoTokyo
Day 4 – Tuesday, Oct 25 2022HakoneTokyoHakone
Day 5 – Wednesday, Oct 26 2022Kamakura, Enoshima ShrineHakoneKamakura
Day 6 – Thursday, Oct 27 2022HannoKamakuraHanno
Day 7 – Friday, Oct 28 2022ShinkoiwaHannoTokyo
Day 8 – Saturday, Oct 29 2022Akihabara, Matsudo CityTokyoTokyo
Day 9 – Sunday, Oct 30 2022M3-50, Moto-YawataTokyoTokyo
Day 10 – Monday, Oct 31 2022Akasaka, Shimo-Kitazawa, Shibuya HalloweenTokyoTokyo
Day 11 – Tuesday, Nov 01 2022Shinjuku, Sophia UniversityTokyoTokyo
Day 12 – Wednesday, Nov 02 2022Sophia University, KabukichoTokyoTokyo
Day 13 – Thursday, Nov 03 2022Shinjuku LoftTokyoTokyo
Day 14 – Friday, Nov 04 2022Shinjuku, Hanazono/Asakusa Tori no Ichi, SensojiTokyoTokyo
Day 15 – Saturday, Nov 05 2022Nagano, ZenkojiTokyoNagano
Day 16 – Sunday, Nov 06 2022Ueda Sanada Festival, Ueda City, Sanada ShrineNaganoNagano
Day 17 – Monday, Nov 07 2022Zenkoji, Kyoto, Nakagyo WardNaganoKyoto
Day 18 – Tuesday, Nov 08 2022Otsu, Omi JinguKyotoKyoto
Day 19 – Wednesday, Nov 09 2022Fushimi Inari, Kashoji, Tofukuji, ShorinjiKyotoKyoto
Day 20 – Thursday, Nov 10 2022Ohara, Sanzenin, ArashiyamaKyotoKyoto
Day 21 – Friday, Nov 11 2022Kiyomizu, Ryozen Kannon, Yasaka ShrineKyotoKyoto
Day 22 – Saturday, Nov 12 2022Heian Raku Ichi Market, Osaka, JusoKyotoOsaka
Day 23 – Sunday, Nov 13 2022Sukunahikona Shrine, NambaOsakaOsaka
Day 24 – Monday, Nov 14 2022Kobe (with Ran)OsakaOsaka
Day 25 – Tuesday, Nov 15 2022Maibara, Toyosato, NagoyaOsakaNagoya
Day 26 – Wednesday, Nov 16 2022Osu, Banshoji, NakaNagoyaNagoya
Day 27 – Thursday, Nov 17 2022Obara Shikizakura Festival, RurikozanyakushiNagoyaNagoya
Day 28 – Friday, Nov 18 2022Okayama, KurashikiNagoyaKurashiki
Day 29 – Saturday, Nov 19 2022Kyoto (with Xuanjie), Autumn Okayama Momotaro FestivalKurashikiKurashiki
Day 30 – Sunday, Nov 20 2022Okayama, Sunrise IzumoKurashikiSunrise Izumo
Day 31 – Monday, Nov 21 2022Minowa, Enoshima Shrine, Ameyoko MarketSunrise IzumoTokyo
Day 32 – Tuesday, Nov 22 2022Shibuya, Taito CityTokyoTokyo
Day 33 – Wednesday, Nov 23 2022AkihabaraTokyoTokyo
Day 34 – Thursday, Nov 24 2022Shinjuku (with Yaoxiang), HarajukuTokyoTokyo
Day 35 – Friday, Nov 25 2022Sensoji, Narita Airport, Flight from Tokyo to EdmontonTokyoEdmonton
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts

Friday, Nov 25 2022 (Day 35)

Astute eyes may have noticed that I had visited two important temples in Tokyo in my first two weeks in Japan, but that I had only visited one of them, Enoshima Shrine, again to collect its goshuin since I made my return to Tokyo. This was because I wanted the other shrine, Sensoji, or Asakusa Kannon Temple, to be the last place I visited in Tokyo. In addition, Asakusa was located very close to Minowa where I was living, so I planned to just walk there after I checked out of the hotel, since I was due to out at 10:00 am but wouldn’t be flying out of Tokyo until 6:30 pm.

In an effort to minimize post-plane jet lag, I stayed up for most of the night on my last night in Tokyo, and then checked out right on time in the morning, leaving my 10th and last postcard with my room key at the front desk before leaving the hotel. I didn’t meet any of the staff on the way out, which was fine, as I had been annoyed by several things in the hotel room anyway, like how the drain had been clogged up for the last couple days of my stay there and wasn’t draining water properly, or how the dryer really wasn’t very good (until I figured out that I was supposed to hang up my damp clothes in the washroom underneath the heater there to dry them there). I still did like the stay, but I eventually left some notes on all these little issues I had found in their public review instead.

Anyway, dragging my bags along with me, I checked the map and headed south. Google said the temple was about a 20 minute walk away — even with my heavy bags, it still only took me a little over 25 minutes, not bad at all. The direction I approached from took me into the temple from the back side of it, but serendipitously enough, the building housing the priests that were drawing the temple seals was also located back around there, so that’s where I headed first to pick up my loot.

I joined a line, paid 500 yen to the shrine maiden in charge of the reception counter (this was more expensive than most temples, which charged 300 yen for theirs), and waited around until my goshuin was done.

I then walked back toward the front of the temple and into the main hall. I didn’t offer a coin this time — I already donated last time I was here and I consider that 500 yen for the seal a donation too, but I ogled at the sheer number of people that were here.

There were lots of students as well, and I realized that the fact that it was Friday probably paid a part in that. Here there’s a crowd of yellow-hat elementary school students in the background, and some high school students in the foreground:

And some yellow hat students in the foreground.

And a woman walking five dogs:

There really were all types of visitors. There were also tour groups coming into the place, I followed a group of them out to near Asakusa Station, where I was going to take the train system to the airport. There, the group joined up with three or four other groups of equal size as they waited for and climbed aboard tour buses to bring them to the next tourist hotspot.

Definitely not my style of travelling at all, but whatever works for them!

There were several routes to the airport from here, but I specifically wanted to use the Narita Express line, since that line was covered by my JR Pass, which today was the last day of. I took the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, the sister line to the Hibiya Line that I had been taking these last few days, from Asakusa Station to Kanda Station. This was the last train ride I had to pay for. I then took the JR Rapid Chuo Line from Kanda Station to Tokyo Station. From there, I found out that just like the shinkansen, I needed to “buy” a special ticket to use the train. It was free just like the other tickets thanks to the pass, but the ticket was outside the gate, and the actual platform for the Narita Express in Tokyo Station was located some distance away from the regular gates, so it took me a while to waddle my way over there. I had missed the last train so I settled in to wait for the next one, and noticed something interesting.

It seemed like this Narita Express train, similarly to the Sunrise Izumo and Seto that I had taken from Okayama back on the evening of Day 30, was actually two separate trains that was going to be joined into one here in Tokyo Station. Cool! I certainly had no idea and wasn’t planning for this so it was neat to see this coupling happen a second time, although this one was a lot quicker and didn’t involve opening any intermediate doors as far as I could see. There was also a small group of interested bystanders watching this conjoining process, which was all automatic, though I have no idea if there was a passage that opened between the two newly-adjacent carriages afterwards so that people could walk between them from within the train. I had hurried off to my carriage by then so that the train wouldn’t leave without me.

I had a window seat in a double-seater chair near the front of the my carriage, and although there were plenty of double empty seats around, there was another guy who had booked the seat next to me too, probably because the seat in front of us was a single seater for whatever reason, so he had extra room to stretch out his legs. But who books a seat next to someone else instead of just booking your own empty seat so that everyone has more space for themslves?

I used the selfie reverse camera function on my phone to snap this picture of empty seats on the train, which had the effect of mirroring and reversing the following picture from left to right.

The view out the window was actually pretty good as the train chugged on from Tokyo Station toward Chiba Station, and then to Narita Airport.

But I largely just muttered dark thoughts at my seat companion under my breath, as I was forced to put one bag in the compartment above my seat thanks to his presence here, and then took a nap for most of the ride to the airport.

Once I was at the airport, I was slightly afraid that they would not allow me to check in that early because there were still about six hours to go before my plane left. But the Japan Airlines desk had no problem with that. In addition, I couldn’t actually check-in online, nor at one of these fancy self-check-in kiosks:

They all just said to go to the JAL desk to manually check in instead. The woman who tried to check me in needed some sort of help from a senior manager of some kind to do so, and was also very confused in trying to explain things to me because she kept on alternating between English and Japanese, as though not sure if I were a foreigner or not (despite my passport and name on it), but eventually did manage to print my boarding tickets and give them to me. I asked if she knew what my issue with self-check-in was, and she said she thought it had something to do with potentially needing to print out baggage tags, even though I had no luggage that I was going to check in. I don’t fully know how it works but I had suspected that it was something to do with how my original booking might have checked me in for both ends of the roundtrip flight already, since I had already done my seat and meal selection for my return flights while still in Edmonton over a month ago, a few days before coming to Japan in the first place.

I passed baggage check and customs with my three bags, although a woman at the Japanese baggage check counter confiscated a small bottle of insect repellent that I had brought along with me, even though it had made it all the way here through baggage check just fine. The reason they confiscated it was that the bottle capacity was 110 ml, even though it was already partially used. The bottle was past its expiry date anyway, and I had ended up not using it the entire trip at all, so thanks for getting rid of it for me, I guess? Overzealous border guards need to find something better to do with their miserable lives though. Although I did like that Japan’s banned items list included some Japanese specific items that one wouldn’t see at any other country’s airport, like “box meal with self heating devices”.

Furthermore, after checking in, I looked at my phone app and realized that for some idiotic reason, the two airport lounges that I had access to using my Passport Visa Infinite credit card were both on the OTHER side of the security gates, outside and prior to customs and baggage check. Why would lounges be built out there instead of inside the departure area? What kind of traveller visits a lounge before checking in? What kind of stupid layout does Narita Airport have? There was one single lounge inside the departure area as well, but that one wasn’t one that I was qualified for using my card, which is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Apparently my Visa card gave me access to a free lunch at a particular restaurant inside the departure area as well, but I never did find this store, so it was probably in the domestic departures area or something, and with how many shops were still shuttered I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were still closed anyway.

From all that I experienced there, I came away with the impression that Narita Airport is a really unintuitive and backwards airport. One of the least enjoyable airports I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been there three times in the past year now), and very aptly reflective on how contradictorily forwards and backwards Japan’s government and society can be at the same time.

It sure had nice windows though. I found a lounge chair in the departure section with a power cord next to it, and settled down there for 4 hours to type away on my laptop with a great view in front of me. That did a lot to mollify me. I finished my Day 31 post while watching ground crews working on random planes there, and was happy that I ended the trip only 4 days behind on my blog-writing.

I also bought a box of shiroi koibito cookies from this duty-free store in the post-check-in area in the airport, as I knew that my mom had mentioned wanting some of these. I had also eaten them in the past when they were on sale in an Asian supermarket in Edmonton, and they were really nice, but they were a Hokkaido specialty, and I had not gone all the way up there this trip, so I had not actually thought of buying them up until I saw it in the airport store. I knew that airport prices were probably a little bit marked up, but I felt that the price was still reasonable.

And lastly, here was the last vending machine that I saw in Japan on this trip, located in the gate waiting area for our flight.

Soon enough, my plane arrived, and away into the sky I went!

Flight to Seattle

I had written my itinerary down wrongly originally, and had a bit of a panic when I reviewed it in the morning before I left the hotel, because I had written down that I would have arrived in Seattle on Nov 25 at 10:30 am, but that my plane out was on Nov 26 at 12:01 pm, even though I only had an hour and a half layover. I had just forgotten to convert the dates when I had converted the times when fixing up time zones, but there was a short period of time where I wondered if I had to grab a hotel overnight in Seattle instead of flying right home to Edmonton.

Anyway, our flight out from Japan was surprisingly uneventful, we took off from Japan right on time. I’m not sure if I slept at all on this flight — the front third of the 9 hour flight contained a nice dinner, the special seafood dinner that I had requested, though it was again a little embarrassing because they serve special meals first before any one else gets to eat, so I was already done my meal before most of the people around me even got their trays. Thankfully, being near the back (where the stowage area for the food carts were) meant that they also noticed I was done and cleared my tray really quickly, so I could put away my tray and stretch my legs again.

And the back third of the flight contained a nice breakfast:

But the middle third was rather difficult for me, and I had to stand up and pace around a bit in order to calm my rising restlessness and slight claustrophobia or something. Even though I was at the very back of the plane, and thus could recline my seat all the way without worrying about disturbing the person behind me, sleep just wasn’t coming for me for the most part, though I must have dozed off at some point because I don’t know how I would have survived the middle three hours otherwise. It also helped that I had an aisle seat — the window seat would have made me feel a lot more cramped. A big part of this was that because I refused to use checked luggage, I had four bags with me, with two of them (the duffle bag and the small bag with the cookies) in the overhead bin, and the other two under my seat, which took away some wiggle and stretch room, even if I had room to move around them.

I never felt comfortable enough here to break out either the laptop or the Steam Deck, so I ended up watching a bunch of short shows to pass the time. I did make friends with the man next to me though, even though we never spoke a single word to each other. I think he was Middle Eastern. I offered him a Fisherman’s Friend cough drop to chew on soon after we boarded and before take-off, but he waved his hand at me to decline it. Later, I took a picture of the menu sheet as he held it up for me, as seen in one of the pictures above. That was interesting, and a clever move by Japan Airlines, that makes for a much easier meal transaction than saying “chicken or beef?” and having people make half-educated guesses on what they were going to get, and have to worry about wrestling with the language barrier or (in my case) hearing issues.

We also briefly fiddled around together with the window next to him, an hour or so before landing, as it wasn’t a normal window that one could slide up and down. Instead, there was an electronic button panel below the window that could be set into one of five positions that looked like it set the tint of the window or something, but we couldn’t figure out at first how to untint the window so that we could look outside. He eventually figured it out when I wasn’t looking though, and I secretly took pictures of him taking pictures of the scenery outside the window. When we finally parted during disembarkment, I was rushing to alight so I could get to my connecting flight, so he smiled and gave me a small wave and I did the same back to him.

And not a word was exchanged the entire flight. JAL still mandating masks probably contributed to this, but it was a neat experience.

Flight to Edmonton

The reason I was rushing was that even though our plane had landed a little bit early, it was 10 or 15 more minutes before our plane came to rest at our assigned gate, because it was pouring rain in Seattle when we arrived and this apparently was causing air controller or airport staff delays. We sat on the runway for a while before a gate slot even opened up for the plane to hitch at, and then there were a few excruciating more minutes before I could get out of the plane since planes disembark from the front to the back, and I was at the very back of the plane.

Still, I managed to reach and pass through customs and baggage check at Seattle without much of an issue before most of the others on my plane anyway, because I had no checked baggage. Everyone else who had checked baggage was required to pick them up from the carousel before going through customs and baggage check again, even if they were just transitting to another flight. The only way to avoid this would have been to take an Air Canada flight from Tokyo to Vancouver, and then another Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Edmonton, but my ticket didn’t offer that as a return trip option.

Anyway, there was a special baggage check and I breezed through that, and I then had to take two separate monorails to get from terminal to terminal until i could get to the one with my flight. I wasn’t too worried by that point as i knew I was fine on time — when I finally arrived at the gate, I was still 20 minutes or so early for boarding. But I was one of the passengers that they were name-announcing for over the local speakers, because they needed to confirm my check-in, so I went up to the counter at the gate to confirm my presence.

The counter also said that we were only allowed two carry-on bags, and I had three (not counting my shiroi koibito cookies, which were in a separate paper bag that they said didn’t count). So when I went up to ask them about that, the girl at the counter gave me an orange tag and an orange ticket, and said to tag one of my bags with the orange tag and to give it to the plane handlers just before I got on, who would pop it somewhere near the front of the plane. And once I got to Edmonton, I could then use the ticket to claim the bag when leaving the aircraft. My duffel bag was the bag that I selected for this treatment, since my backpack had the Steam Deck in it and the sling bag had Tigey and the laptop in it.

But the duffel bag had CDs and plushies in it as well, and it was still raining madly outside. Also, our path to the airplane wasn’t fully covered, it was instead a ramp down to ground level, where we then walked a short distance to the actual aircraft in the pelting rain to board it. The picture here isn’t very clear, but the passage we were following does turn back onto itself and then slope down toward the ground past the railings.

With all that said, the handlers in the bright vests that I was told to hand the bag with were actually standing in the rain itself, and there was no way that I was going to give them my bag and risk all the CDs and plushies in it getting wet, or worse, the bag itself being forgotten or lost. So I pretended not to remember that and just went on board with all three of my bags anyway, even though the orange tag on my bag was still visible, and no one said a thing.

And this turned out to be very much just fine. The plane was less than half-full, so not only were the overhead bins empty, the seat beside me (and the seats on the other side of the aisle from me) were also empty anyway, so I just shoved everything I had under the front of the seat next to me, and that was that.

Due to that, I even got to keep the tag and ticket and bring them all the way home to add to my souvenir papers bag.

Since the plane was so empty, Tigey also got to buckle in and sit next to me for part of the flight.

He didn’t get any snacks or drinks though. I got peanuts, and a non-alcoholic bloody mary drink when I asked for tomato juice.

Our flight was actually delayed taking off, but I didn’t much care, I had room to stretch on this one with no one beside me, and no connecting flight to catch. The only thing I didn’t like about this plane ride was seeing snow on the ground as we approached Edmonton International Airport.

Maybe I should have stayed in Japan for a few more months?

Once I disembarked here, I had nearly an hour-long wait for the single stupid shuttle bus that takes people between Edmonton Airport and the city itself, because it arrived 15 minutes late, and then the bus ride into town itself took over half an hour because there were so many people on the bus and we seemed to stop at every stop along the way. It felt like we stopped at every inconsequential bus stop between the airport and Century Park terminal, where I finally could catch a train home. Christmas decorations had apparently gone up while I was gone, and both the mall and our apartment blocks were decked out in opulent capitalism.

I do like pretty lights at night though and they were indeed pretty. Even the tree that I could see from my home balcony finally lit up again after being turned off for most of the year.

Due to this specific waiting time and journey from the airport to my home, which ended up longer than the actual flight from Seattle to Edmonton, I had wanted to pick up the package that I had mailed to myself from the post office this afternoon, but the Canada Post branch located in the mall was closed by the time I reached it, so I had to wait until the next day, Saturday, to do so. I secured my goods that next day though, and also got shipping quotes on how much it would take to ship the things I had bought for other friends in the USA, particularly Shuuka, before sending them off the day after confirming the costs with them.

But all that would be bleeding into my next and final post in this series, the Final Thoughts post. (Editor: Actually, most of it ended up in the weekly post after that, My Diary #074). For now, Tigey was exhausted but safely home! Oh, and me too. Tigey took a nice long tumble in the washer and dryer this evening along with all my clothes.

Shinkansen Running Total

I have a 21-day JR Pass that kicked in on Nov 05 and should last until the end of my trip on Nov 25. It cost $568 CAD, which cost around 61,769.08 yen, as per Google as of the first writing of this section. So I was curious and wanted to keep a running total — was this thing actually worth it?

That’s what I hope to find out with this section. For the full explanation blurb on this, check this corresponding section of the Day 15 blog post.


ට  Nov 05 2022 – Asama 611 (Tokyo to Nagano) – U: 7810, R: 8340
ට  Nov 06 2022 – Hakutaka 556 (Nagano to Ueda) – U: 1470, R: 2790
ට  Nov 06 2022 – Asama 615 (Ueda to Nagano) – U: 1470, R: 2790
ට  Nov 07 2022 – Kagayaki 509 (Nagano to Kanazawa) – 8920 (reserved seats only)
ට  Nov 07 2022 – Thunderbird 24 (Kanazawa to Kyoto) – U: 6490, R: 6820
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Kosei Line (Kyoto to Otsukyo) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Kosei Line (Otsukyo to Kyoto) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Nara Line (Kyoto to Inari) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 08 2022 – JR Nara Line (Inari to Kyoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 09 2022 – JR Nara Line (Tofukuji to Kyoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 10 2022 – JR Sanin/Sagano Line (Saga-Arashiyama to Kyoto) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 12 2022 – Super Hakuto 7 (Kyoto to Osaka) – U: 1230, R: 1760
ට  Nov 15 2022 – Kodama 720 (Shin-Osaka to Maibara) – U: 4510, R: 4840
ට  Nov 15 2022 – Kodama 748 (Maibara to Nagoya) – U: 3100, R: 3430
ට  Nov 18 2022 – Hikari 505 (Nagoya to Okayama) – U: 10550, R: 11080
ට  Nov 18 2022 – JR Marine Liner 45 (Okayama to Chayamachi) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 19 2022 – JR Marine Liner 17 (Hayashima to Okayama) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 574 (Okayama to Shin-Kobe) – U: 5170, R: 5700
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 504 (Shin-Kobe to Kyoto) – U: 2860, R: 3390
ට  Nov 19 2022 – Hikari 509 (Kyoto to Okayama) – U: 7140, R: 7670
ට  Nov 19 2022 – JR Marine Liner 51 (Okayama to Hayashima) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – JR Marine Liner 20 (Hayashima to Okayama) – 240 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – JR Seto/Ohashi Line (Okayama to Omoto) – 150 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 20 2022 – Sunrise-Izumo (Okayama to Tokyo) – 13970 (reserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Tokyo to Ueno) – 160 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Ueno-Tokyo Line (Ueno to Fujisawa) – 990 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Ueno-Tokyo Line (Fujisawa to Tokyo) – 990 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 21 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Tokyo to Okachimachi) – 140 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 22 2022 – JR Chuo/Sobu Line (Akihabara to Yoyogi) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 22 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Yoyogi to Shibuya) – 0 (transfer)
ට  Nov 22 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Shibuya to Okachimachi) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 24 2022 – JR Chuo/Sobu Line (Akihabara to Ochanomizu) – 170 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 24 2022 – JR Chuo Line Rapid (Ochanomizu to Shinjuku) – 0 (transfer)
ට  Nov 24 2022 – JR Chuo/Sobu Line (Shinjuku to Yoyogi) – 140 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 24 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Harajuku to Ueno) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 25 2022 – JR Yamanote Line (Kanda to Tokyo) – 200 (unreserved seats only)
ට  Nov 25 2022 – Narita-Express 23 (Tokyo to Narita Airport Terminal 2-3) – U: 1340, R: 3070

Running Total

Unreserved: 81,700 yen
Reserved: 90,240 yen

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Kami Watch Over Me (Final Thoughts)

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