The train from Osaka to Tokyo is about 4 hours. We ended up taking a train from Osaka to Tokyo and then from Tokyo to Hiroshima a few days after that. My point being that we had an odd experience on the train but I don’t recall on which train ride it happened. I’m pretty sure it was on the train ride to Osaka to Tokyo…
Regardless, Aly tried to make it clear to the attendant at the ticket counter that we wanted to be seated in one row together but it seemed like he misunderstood as he ended up giving us assigned seats to the middle seat of 3 separate rows. Not very convenient considering we had an eight year old, 2 adults, and a baby in a stroller. It’s not like I was helping as I was busy getting everyone donuts from Krispy Kreme (I’m such a good sister/Aunt, right?). If we all sat in one row, it would have been completely okay because we could have just wedged the stroller in front of us taking up the entire row.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. We decided to sit in one row regardless but after a stop or two, people started coming on the train and looking for their assigned seats. I moved to my seat (middle seat of the row in front of Aly) and I told Aly to stay put regardless of what anyone said. Having lived in Japan (and Asia), she is much more sensitive to the culture and customs, one of which is a strict adherence to rules and seat assignments. I, on the other hand, just didn’t care. So, when someone came on the train asking to sit in the window seat where Wyatt was sitting (since that was his assigned seat), Aly graciously moved the stroller out with the full intention of standing in the hallway of the train near the bathrooms for the rest of the train tide. While she was doing this, I was essentially guilting this poor Japanese businessman into sitting in Wyatt’s assigned seat (the middle seat of the row behind us) instead. Thankfully, after chatting away with no real indication that he spoke English, understood what I was saying, or even cared, my guilting worked and he motioned for Aly and Wyatt to sit in the row together with the stroller in front of their feet. Isn’t that nice? Thanks, random Japanese businessman!
Once that entire incident was settled, I spent the rest of the train ride alternating between reading a book on my Kindle (Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers) and staring out the window taking photos. Luckily Aly was paying attention on the train ride because all of a sudden she tapped me from behind and motioned to the other side of the train where I could see that we were passing Mount Fuji. How gorgeous is this mountain?
That night, one of Aly’s awesome friends met us at the Tokyo train station with her daughter. I really really really wish I had taken some photos of the train station and of the downtown area. It was dusk by that time but it was so beautiful. Please Google “Tokyo Train Station” and you will be immensely surprised and confused at its stark contrast in comparison to the modern skyscrapers surrounding it. Man, the streets were crazy busy! Like SO SO busy. In general, Tokyo was insane. I mean, it’s the most populous city in the world with 38 million people living in this place. My country/suburb girl instincts wanted me to run away to the beautiful countryside and be a hermit! So many people. Generally speaking, I’m quite good with maneuvering through crowds but this was just unacceptable. I had never truly known or felt the real meaning of “packed like sardines” until I went to Tokyo. I can’t even tell you how arduous and weird and slightly terrifying it was to cross a street at an intersection with 150 people behind you and 150 people in front of you. It’s like riding a wave that’s smashing into another wave.
Moving on… we all went to this cool shopping center/business building that had a number of restaurants on the 5th or 6th floor. We took the elevator up and ate some amazing authentic Japanese food – soba noodles, tempura shrimp, and tempura vegetables. Also, I ate the whole meal with chopsticks. Go ahead, be impressed.
After the meal we went to and checked into our hotel. The two receptionists were quite taken with Alex (~1 year old). They kept on smiling and waving at him. Related side note, the elevators in Japan have no sensors whatsoever. They will most definitely close on you and move while you are stuck in the door. Now, Alex was out of the stroller and we had entered the elevator with some difficulty as the door kept trying to close on the stroller and then me and then Aly and then one of the suitcases. We had gotten in and the elevator door just began to close when Alex bolted for the gap. You should have seen the look on the receptionist’s faces: sheer terror. Thankfully, Aly has lightening fast reflexes and scooped up Alex in time. However, I will always remember the look on those two girls’ faces. So hilarious.