Monday, April 11, 2005

Sumimasen, how do I get to Kawasaki from Narita Airport kudasai?

I recently had to take an emergency detour to Kawasaki City, Japan to attend to a sick cousin. Fortunately he's recovering well now. For someone who does not understand Japanese, it seemed like a daunting task to get yourself from the airport to some strange city outside of Tokyo. Fortunately, however, despite the language barrier, the Japanese were very friendly and helpful. At Narita Airport (which is actually 1 hour away from Tokyo), there was a tourist information desk immediately after you exit from the bagge claim. They spoke English, and politely told me the easiest way to Kawasaki was to take the Narita Express Train ------> Shiagawa ------> transfer to the JR train, Tokaido line ------> Kawasaki. I said arigatou with a bow and then proceeded to the escalator downstairs where the trains were. "Kawasaki please" I said to the ticke lady, she responded in Japanese. I heard "Tokyo" and "Shinagawa" somewhere in what she said so I figured she was asking where I would like to transfer. I replied "Shinagawa" and she typed Y3700 (apprx. $37 US) on the calculator. With my tickets in hand I followed the signs to the the train I found a foreigner who spoke English! I asked him if I was in the right place, and he told me that I had to stand at the correct car number as my ticket was a reserved seat, and that I had to wait for the train arriving at the exact time indicated on my ticket. The train ride was nice, the scenery intriguing as it was so was cherry blossom season, so the landscape was dotted by trees covered only by white blossoms....the houses were distictly "Japanese" :)...After about an hour we arrived in Tokyo, then a few stops later wer were in Shinagawa. Getting off the train I immedieately saw signs for the Tokaido stop later I was in Kawasaki! I wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.