Narita Airport and Sakura Hotel

By: Montana Houston

After coming off our flight that was delayed by an additional two hours, landing into Narita Airport was like a breath of fresh air. Rather, once we got off the airplane, a breath of hot air as I felt the humidity immediately. As the plane left LA, I realized that I was actually going to Japan, and that I was no longer in the middle of the semester when going to Japan was months away. Once I noticed the unfamiliar architecture and Kanji everywhere, the second realization hit me. I was anxious and excited at once. And the largest reality-check of all was when I had to communicate with the customs representative and my Japanese language skills started to slowly creep back to me. Fingers crossed my Japanese keeps doing that!

Soon after we got off the plane!

Narita is a very busy airport. Each line we entered — customs, JR Pass, etc. — was long. The group had the opportunity to explore as we waited for the lines to move as Rio secured our JR Passes and Professor Katada bought our Pasmo. One of the highlights of this waiting time for me, other than sharing goals of places to visit with other students, was getting Pocket Wi-Fi. Before this trip, Pocket Wi-Fi was unheard of for me. However, being able to use Wi-Fi on demand in a foreign country was a service I did not even know I needed. At a somewhat lofty price of 90 dollars for 15 days, Pocket Wi-Fi is an investment to make, but I feel it is one that will pay off. As we went from subway line to subway line, my heavy bags were getting the best of me! I bumped my ankles quite a few times and was getting weighed down. I was so happy once we reached Sakura Hotel!

The flags hanging around Sakura Hotel

Sakura Hotel, our first lodging in Japan, was very foreigner friendly! As we entered, there were pictures left and right of people who have visited as they hold the flags representing where they’re from. Postcards were easy to find, and the reception staff was very friendly! After we were told the rules of no smoking, not being loud after 10 AM, and no use of hair dryers after midnight, we were ready to drop off our luggage and hit the streets to find food. Around ten of us went to find food, then four of us branched off for our long-standing quest to find ramen. The ramen shop we went to was on the corner of a busy street and with delectable food (I forgot to take photos, sorry)! Once we returned with our bellies full, I was ready to hit the showers. The showers were also such a refreshing thing. Our room had bunk beds with nice curtains to conceal the light as we slept. We were all so tired from the activities of the day, and most of us did not sleep on the flight, so once we hit the beds, we fell fast asleep. I’m excited for our first day in Kyoto!