Matane Bilbao, Konbanwa Tokyo
Since I was a kid I’ve always been a big fan of the Japanese culture and lifestyle. I must define myself as a lucky bastard as most of my job can be done remotely. This, my passion for challenges and the fact I knew a few people in Japan gave me the courage to move me to Tokyo and start writing this blog trying to unveil all the mysteries about this wonderful country.
Ready, Steady, Go?
Here I was at Frankfurt’s Terminal B, queuing with hundreds of Japanese travellers to hop Ion the ANA’s 777-300 to Haneda Intl. Airport, and my fears suddenly started to rumble the back of my head, overwhelming my thoughts. Would I be able to survive to the cultural shock? how warm would the summer be in Japan? how will the food be? will I feel lonely? am I going to like it? at this point of paranoid craziness I told to myself: -“who cares? I am a positive person, I like challenges, I’m going to learn zillions of things and this time living at the land of the rising sun it’s going to be an amazing experience. Let’s go for it! :)”-
After a 12 hour (in my case super bumpy) flight we finally took down in the Airport of Haneda. The first thing you’ll need to go through will be the immigration border control. You will be given 2 sheets of paper that you’ll need to fill in before proceeding to the Passport inspection (IMHO in order to save some time, a smart thing would be to carry a pen with you and fill in the papers during the flight):
- Personal data: How long will u be staying in the country (90 days max in case of a tourist one) and the location where you will stay. I was kinda surprised because I had no idea that I needed to provide this kind of information. In my case as I am staying at my GF’s apartment I needed to fill in the paper looking at my phone screen and transcribing supertiny characters in Japanese (Kanji).
- Goods Declaration. You’ll need to fill in this second sheet, declare in case you exceed the maximum amount of permitted goods and if you’re carrying any of the unauthorised ones. It’s a good idea not to bring any of the following items as they are not allowed and if we try to sneak ’em in we could be prosecuted. According to the maff.go.jp website these are the banned goods you shouldn’t take with you when travelling to Japan:
- Meat and Organ. Any type of meat / organ (such as raw, processed product, refrigerated, frozen, cooked, etc.) e.g: Jerky, ham, sausages, bacon, meat buns, etc.
- Egg (including eggshell)
- Bone, fat, blood, skin, hair, feather, horn, hoof, tendon
- Finished products, such as leather bags and woolen sweaters, are excluded.
- Raw milk, semen, fertilized egg, unfertilized egg, feces, urine.
After successfully getting through the first border control you’ll pass through the bag reception area. Once cleared this area you will end up at the goods declaration check. I was lucky because in my case they didn’t check any of my bags. I believe they randomly do it so be prepared to open your luggage in case it happens.
Where it all Begins
I was finally on the arrival gates asking around for a taxi and here it was the first time where I realised that they barely speak English here. Yes, forget about speaking English you’re now in Japan so you should start learning some Japanese basics to be able to move around as a few percentage of the population speaks or feels comfortable talking in English.
After desperately exchanging some gestures and pronouncing the word Shibuya with one of the Taxi coordinators I managed to explain him where I was going to so I hop on a taxi.
The taxi driver asked me in Japanese where I was heading off, I showed him the Japanese address i has on my phone and after he threw my bags on the trunk he gently invited me to hop on the back seat while bowing me.
The taxis in Japan are different from what I’ve ever seen. They are all look a like on the outside certainly not what I’ve had ever imagined. There are mainly 2 models out there that were manufactured for this purpose: the “Toyota Crown Comfort” and the “Nissan Cedric Y31”. They are so comfortable and 99% have a very peculiar decoration inside. They have knitted old style white tapestries on the front and back seats which make them unique.
After hoping in and watching the driver sitting back on the wheel I had the natural impulse to close the door and after freaking out and watching it closing by itself I realized there was a sign on the inside written both in English and Japanese, saying “Automated door, please do not touch”. What the deuce? Yes, it’s true all the taxis in Japan have doors that magically are opened and closed by the driver’s will, so don’t even think on touching em or the driver will give you strange looks.
Ma new hood
After a 45 minute drive on the Tokyo’s crazy left side driving I was finally at my destination in Shibuya, it was time to have some rest.
It was an intense day so after a I we decided to try one of to Bepocah, one of Shibuya’s nicest Peruvian restaurant. It’s a fusion of Peruvian-Japanese cuisine, tasty, delicately crafted and presented in an impeccable way.
Its an small, trendy, cozy and romantic Restaurant painted in yellow and in a very convenient location close to Harajuku Street.
The food here is outstanding, every dish was delicious and you just want to keep trying everything, the dishes are very well presented. I was completely satisfied with the entire experience.
I recommend the ceviche and also the Duck. I invite you to try Bepocah if you’re have the chance to visit Tokyo. I am sure it will not disappoint you.
Restaurant Bépocah: http://4sq.com/XNwf5G