Arriving in Japan

※ This article discusses the 29th of September 2016.

Our arrival in Japan was well planned. We arrive (by the latest) at 18:40 at Kansai International Airport, go through the passport control, get our Residence Card, and finally claim our luggage. The next step would be to take the MK Skygate Shuttle to go to the Yume Nomad hostel. Of course, both services were already booked from Austria at the end of August.

The first few steps went smoothly. The dinner and breakfast at the plane was fine. We even got our first towels - Japanese people use - to clean our hands before eating. The plane landed without troubles, we filled out some forms (Japan government loves its forms), got through the passport control after some waiting, and received our Residence Card right away.

Obviously, we were the last passengers of our flight due to this long procedure. We looked for our luggage on the baggage lane, but could not spot it. A few moments later an airport employee approached us and guided us to our suitcases. They were standing next to the lane and two other employees watched over them. If I had not experienced this on a previous trip to Japan, I would have been really surprised by this.

No challenge so far. But from now on, all our wits were needed.

Challenge 1

Find the counter of the MK Skygate Shuttle. The e-mail said "After passing through immigration and customs, please come to the MK counter next to gate H on the first floor of the airport as soon as possible." So we went as fast as possible from the ground floor to the first floor. Up there we looked around for the counter or gate H, but could not find either of them. Lukas went to the information counter to ask, where we need to go. And that was the moment we got reminded that in Japan the ground floor is called first floor and the first floor is called second floor and so on.

Challenge 2

After we finally found our shuttle, we travelled quite relaxed to our next destination, the Yume Nomad hostel. This should not be a problem, since the MK Skygate Shuttle takes people "right to the door". Unfortunately, the Yume Nomad hostel is in very small side street of a shopping street (no cars allowed). The driver even bothered to get out his car and showed us the way to our hotel. We only noticed that this was the wrong location when he was gone already. Walking around, we tried to find the hostel on our own. Our approach to show the address of the hostel to some people around us did not work out. One local pointed out, that this address is "1 hour foot walk this direction". Actually, it was close by 2 minutes by foot at this point in time. The Japanese address system is quite complicated and maybe we would have been more successful if we had asked for the Yume Nomad hostel instead of its address. During our short journey around the Shinkaichi area we found different food shops, a Patchinko hall (gaming hall) and a train station. Just when we unsuccessfully checked the whole shopping street for our hostel, a nice Japanese guy approached us. He recognised immediately where we wanted to go and took us to the Yume Nomad hostel. This will not be the first and only time Japanese politeness helped us out!

Challenge 3

We finally managed to arrive at our booked hostel. But since we arrived at Shinkaichi close to 10pm and this is the deadline for check-in, we were already too late. There was a phone number given on the door and we decided to call it. But my mobile phone did not work. It still does not. Luckily, Lukas' mobile phone worked without problems. We managed to call and we could still check-in. The staff was really nice.

This was our first day with actual Japan feeling. Polite people, Lukas' first ride on the left side of the street, thin cars compared to American SUVs, we applied Japanese slipper conventions in our hostel and Lukas bumped into the low ceilings.