The story should start with landing in
After taking that luggage and going through the already mentioned polite-mannered staffed customs, I got in the also spotless lobby where you have all the usual signs guiding you to all the possible means of transportation. Followed the sings to the train station and once there I went to the ticket office, where the “almost” of the title enters into play. I ordered a ticket to the station where I had to change to the subway (you cannot buy one all the way because they are different companies) and when trying to pay with the credit card I got a big surprise when I was told that no credit cards were accepted and that I needed to get cash (I had seven different currencies but no Yen in my wallet). I went to an ATM to withdraw cash and the ATMs did not accept foreign debit or credit cards (I knew that that was the case normally but I imagined that in the most modern international airport things would be a little more international). I tried with my Japanese credit cards but the ATMs were not of the issuing banks, which meant that they didn’t work either. Then I understood why the man in the ticket office asked me to go to the currency exchange counter (nothing else would work) and I did so, where I change some of the currency I had into Yen.
I finally got my ticket for the following train (originally I was going to get the 13:07 and I took the 13:17) and in less than one minute I was inside of the reserved-seat area of a spotless, nice and bright train. Exactly at 13:17 the train departed and, after crossing into land from the artificial island, started rolling through the usual Japanese suburban landscape of modern and old houses, apartment buildings (here called “mansions”) and the occasional rice field, but all with the unique added beauty of countless sakura in bloom (sakura is the Japanese cherry tree). The train ride was comfortable and quiet, because train didn’t make any noise when running and because people inside the carriage respected the sign saying to not use your mobile phone inside it (both the signs and the announcements ask you to refrain from using your phone and to put it on silent mode). On the mobile phone side of things, I was amazed to see that my Blackberry worked here (usually foreign phones don’t work in Japan) and not very surprised to see that it had full 3G signal everywhere at every time (it is true that England has probably one of the worst mobile networks that exist but I still get quite annoyed by the fact that, as example, is very unusual for me to have 3G in my phone in most parts of England, including London, and in my house in London most of the time I don’t have any signal at all).
Several stops later I transfer to the also (you imagined) spotless subway, where many things, yet again, reminded me all what I like about
I made it to my final station where I got off, went back to the surface and walked the few blocks leading to my house. There (here), after few greetings and checking a couple of things using the old 100M Internet connection I have at home, I collapsed in bed to wake up today at 3 am (when I am writing this).
I assume that my jetlag will keep waking me up around these absurd times, so in next days I plan to engage in the regulatory issues causing or arising from what I tried to describe above…