Crossing the International Dateline puts our arrival at Narita Airport in Japan at 4:30 PM on Monday, May 16. As the photo of the group suggests, everyone is tired, but energized by the experience of finally being back to earth in the Land of the Rising Sun. Clearing Customs has taken some time (Delta neglected to put Keiko’s suitcase on the plane!) but our chartered van was ready to transport the crew to our downtown Tokyo hotel. The weather is overcast with a temperature of 70F so the 1 hour ride offered everyone an opportunity to see the transition of the diverse Japanese landscape changing from lush country-side views to the vibrant urban environment of Tokyo, home to 13+ million people, the most populated city in the world.
Keiko has selected a business budget apartment hotel called the Weekly Mansion for our 7 day stay in Tokyo. Located in the busy central Akasaka district of the city, (http://www.wmt.co.jp/en/location/akasaka/index.html). The hotel has all the comforts and amenities of a furnished apartment, but most importantly, the hotel is in the heart of it all. It is ideally located in a vibrant area of the city with many diverse eating and refreshment options and easy access to a train station. Our UMaine students will enjoy here the traditional culture of Japan and rub shoulders with the people.
After checking in, faculty and students briefly toured the surrounding area, selected a nearby restaurant for their first Japanese meal, and sat in a relaxing environment to reflect on the travel adventure, share expectations about the coming days, discuss tomorrow’s first business appointment and cultural events–––and prepare for a well deserved experience of laying down and sleeping on a comfortable, albeit smaller than American standard, bed!