The OTT installation team waits in the World Club lounge in Detroit for the announcement that their flight to Narita, Japan is boarding. We will be staying at a Prince Hotel in Hanno, Japan, for 9 nights.
Business class travel to Japan is a non-stop foodfest. Dinner begins with this appetizer of hummus and salmon salsa on crackers, and an assortment of nuts (which are refilled if you want).
Next is the salad and roll. I selected the Japanese dressing which is great.
You get a choice of entrees...this is the beef tenderloin with potatoes and vegetable. Other choices included chicken, fish, or a Japanese dinner in a Bento box.
Dessert was a chocolate lava cake with a scoop of ice cream. I selected a cordial to accompany it, but I didn't drink very much of it.
About six hours after dinner, the flight attendants will offer anyone who isn't sleeping a mid-flight snack. Oliver and I chose the pepperoni pizza.
Flying alongside us was this Korean Air Lines flight.
About 90 minutes before landing, the window shades are opened and the occupants come back to life. Although it is mid-to-late afternoon at our destination, it feels like early morning, so we get breakfast. Oliver here has selected cereal and fruit.
I opt for the bacon-potato-egg dish with fruit and a cranberry scone.
The conductors in Japan wear clean white gloves and the stations are spotless.
This is a great shot of me already on the prowl for photo opportunities (thank you Oliver). I'm remarkably awake for someone who's been traveling for 21 hours. That's my Nikon D80 with 18-200mm lens and SB-600 flash. Most of the pics in this gallery were taken with this combination. I also used my Sigma 10-20mm lens when I needed to go wide.
We're off to Ikebukuro in a comfortable Green Car. We're a little drowsy from the long day and night.
My room at the Hanno Prince Hotel.
The bathroom includes a western toilet and what is either a hair dryer or a vacuum cleaner (maybe both)!
The view from my room. Hanno is a smallish city by Japan standards, with 82,000 people.
The elevator doors are made of glass so you don't have to wait for the elevator car to see out. The sign on the door loosely translates to "Be careful. These doors eat fingers and you'll cry like this."
Tuesday, January 15. Daral, Oliver, and I wait for the team so we can have breakfast. Little did we know that Donna and Scott were already eating inside!
The "Top of Hanno" restaurant features a breakfast buffet. Notice the first item, an interesting translation of "hash brown." The egg dishes beyond that are woefully undercooked, as is the bacon.
Eating a hearty breakfast in Japan is easy and always a good idea. We'll be doing much walking later.
Me, Oliver, Daral, and Donna discuss how to spend our free day.
Waiting for the Red Arrow train to take us back to Ikebukuro so we can start our exploration of Tokyo.
The first stop is Irumashi, very near the base where we will be working. The tracks actually cut through the base, which seems to me to be a major security problem, but I suppose people don't walk along tracks here like they do in the U.S.
Now we're on the Tokyo Metro, in the section of the car reserved for sick, pregnant, and nursing people. The yellow hold straps have a sticker on them that asks you to turn your cell phone off.
The remainder of the car has white straps, without the sticker, so cell phone use is allowed. Like the stations, the subway cars are clean. This is unusually empty for a subway car. During rush hour, the subways are packed.
We exit the train near Imperial Palace and take a walk. It's about 40 degrees outside.
Getting closer to the Palace than this would require a swim, likely followed by an uncomfortable interrogation.
Scott, Daral, and Donna in front of the Tokyo skyline. The ground is mostly gravel and empty. On New Year's Day, all the space behind us will be filled with people waiting for the emperor to emerge and wave to the crowd.
This spot, with the palace in view in the background, is a very popular place for photographs.