Day 16 - 6000 miles back to reality
We left the airport hotel feeling very sad to be leaving Japan. Our decision to stay in this hotel paid off though as it avoided the need to try and get across Tokyo in rush hour which could well have been quite a nightmare.
On our journey here at heathrow the check-in had felt a bit hectic but here at Narita it was a totally different story. The check in staff lined up and bowed before calmly opening check-in, a final reminder of how polite everybody we had met here had been.
I decided one last trip to a vending machine was needed. This time I went for a Nescafe iced coffee, I may as well familiarise myself with home again I thought. My wife wanted an iced tea but pressed the wrong button and ended up with something completely different!
We had a few hours till take off so went through security to find somewhere to eat.
We looked inside the duty free shop and my wife left with bottles of plum wine and boxes of banana cakes, we had heard that the ones sold at the airport were delicious.
This gift shop housed an origami exhibition, my wife bought some to make on the plane.
This place looked quite futuristic and is a rare sight these days at airports.
A smoking lounge! I spotted four in the departure lounge before boarding the flight.
We found somewhere to eat and learnt something new about Kit Kat, a good luck charm in Japan apparently. I have never seen so many different flavours of Kit Kat before visiting Japan, whilst here we tried green tea flavour (not for me) and strawberry cheesecake flavour (very nice!)
We ordered a pizza and shared this whilst we waited for the pizza to cook.
A sweet chocolate cake with a bread like texture, nice but a bit dry.
The fish sausage was a bit like a fish pate, I quite liked it!
The Tokyo banana cake we had heard so much about, it was time to try one.
A soft sponge with a banana creme filling, really delicious!
The pizza was pretty good, a bit of a wider spread of topping would have been nice though!
This was it the last chance saloon for buying something before boarding the flight, my wife bought a load more sweets, we may have been leaving Japan but she was determined to bring some of it back with her. Whilst doing this I made the most of the smoking lounge and had a final puff on my ecig.
This was it, after all the saving and planning for this trip we were now about to leave. Luckily it had felt like we had been here for a nice amount of time and done everything we had wanted to do (apart from trying Kobe Beef!)
The flight home doesn't have that same exciting feeling as the flight out. A brief exciting moment did happen whilst passengers were boarding the plane though, I looked up and thought Richard Branson was doing a meet and greet! Ok, so looking at the photo now I can tell it isn't him but in a panic I took this photo at the time convinced it was, excitement over..
This was my last glimpse of Japan, my thoughts turned to food.
Before any food arrived a feel good kit was handed out, I didn't put the socks on this time but the toothpaste and toothbrush was handy.
Next the menu arrived, I studied it in detail and waited patiently.
This combination worked well on the way so I enjoyed it on the way back too.
Milky sweets, what an excellent packet!
There was still no sign of food so we tried our hand at origami.
After 20 minutes I still wasn't really get the hang of it..
The main meal arrived served with a side salad, a really dry roll and some butter.
I went for poached cod in a pesto cream sauce served with mashed potatoes and veg, not bad at all!
A fairly standard side salad but the Japanese soy dressing I added after taking this pic livened it up a bit.
The beer was handed to me like this, a good job as there was so little space on the tiny table.
We had another Tokyo banana cake and continued with the origami.
My wife had got the hang of it nicely, I gave up in frustration though.
Coffee was served with the dessert, panna cotta and mango jelly.
My wife didn't like it so I ate both, I'm not a big dessert fan but it tasted pretty good to me.
My wife created a crane next.
I pulled out a giant bag of Mitsuya Cider sweets.
The flavour was just like the drink, really nice!!
My wife was becoming quite an expert at origami. I was slightly envious and watched Dawn of planet of the apes to take my mind of it.
During the film this ice cream lolly arrived, loving these movie snacks Virgin Atlantic hand out. Most the other passengers were sleeping but I was determined to stay awake on food watch.
Whilst others slept I tucked into a cheese and coleslaw sandwich, it seemed staying awake was paying off!
My wife pulled out some milky chocolate in a pretty and glittery box.
They tasted great with a nice smooth fondant vanilla centre.
No time for colouring in, the food trolley was making its way up the aisle once more.
This time chicken with noodles followed by a financier cake, both better than I was expecting. The financier cake was really moist with an amazing almond flavour.
Eventually the lights in the cabin were turned up and we prepared for our landing.
The last food offering was a small packet of love hearts, Virgin Atlantic certainly seemed like a good choice of airline to fly with and they impressed me much more than British Airways.
Through the clouds down below I could just make out the skyline of Canary Wharf.
It really was over now, back to reality..
I can honestly say that Japan is by far the most incredible place I have ever visited. I expected amazing and experienced mind blowingly excellent. Being in an alien world far different to any other place I have ever been to but being surrounded by such polite and helpful people was a combination that resulted in the trip of a lifetime. As I am writing this we have already started saving up to return to Japan again. Although there are many other places to visit in the world I feel a really strong need to return and explore more of this amazing country.
If you are thinking of visiting Japan I would consider this:
- Everybody told us it would be very expensive but this wasn't the case. Our flights cost just £640 each and our guesthouse in Tokyo £22 per night for a double room, hotels in Kyoto and Osaka about £40 per night. A meal (ramen or okonomiyaki) cost no more than £6 and a pint of beer £3. Be aware of service charges in some places, this can become expensive if you are having a drink in many bars, not everywhere charges it though.
- It is well worth getting a Japan Rail Pass, our 7 day passes cost £160 each and enabled us to explore the country by bullet train (an amazing experience in itself) for that period. We based our entire trip around the dates we were going to use the pass to ensure we made good use of it.
- If you make lunch your main meal you will find lots of restaurants on the back streets serving a lunch menu at a great price.
- Some amazing food can be found in the department store food halls, usually in the basement. Buy a selection of things and find a park to eat lunch in, affordable and delicious.
- Be sure to visit Kyoto, the most stunningly beautiful place I have ever been to.
- Don't just dream about doing this, make it happen, pop some money in a tin each week and it soon adds up, book those flights and its all systems go!
This meal deal I bought before boarding the train back to Norwich isn't really of much interest. I did however promise myself that I would be featuring everything I ate during the trip so couldn't leave it out. Having eaten so many amazing things in Japan it all tasted quite bland really..
The cats were pleased to see us when we got home and crazed us for days for some of these Crispy Kiss treats.
Click here for
The Japanese Food Adventure - Chapter 2