... the weather forecast for Tokyo today is 30C and 51% humidity according to the BBC ... the current observation for the area around my office in London is 12C and 86% humidity. Some places in the UK are hitting zero at night, and it's been going down to single digits around here ... makes a difference from a couple of weeks ago where it went down to the mid 20s in Tokyo (on the evening of the typhoon, between the water cooling and the wind chill factor, it was surprisingly refreshing and pleasant, aside from the people blowing past, the heavy luggage and the threat of having to sleep under an overpass somewhere!)
... even after sending off two bundles via post while travelling in Japan, and leaving a bag of stuff to be surface shipped, I still got to the airport 7-10kg over my luggage allowance (7kg in checked baggage, 3kg in carryon) so I ended up packaging up 10kg (very VERY quickly) and posting it back (7,700yen/kg for excess baggage is about £35/kg, so 7kg would have been over £200! Postage was 16,800yen for 10kg which is about £75 for 10kg, or £7.50/kg so a *lot* cheaper) ... but how long would it take to get back to the UK?
Answer: it arrived yesterday (Tuesday!), so it got posted 10am Saturday, travelled Sunday-Monday, and arrived in Feltham on Tuesday morning, before I'd had time to unpack my bags from the trip! Excellent service :-)
Tokyo is nearer the equator than London (waits for gasps of amazement to die down ... grin)
This means that not only is it hotter (on average) but that the day/night division of hours is much closer to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime (and that the change from day to night happens faster)
Add in British summer time, and you get a situation where it is dark by 18:30 or so in Tokyo and there's still an hour before sunset in London and even then it will slowly get dark after that, so closer to two hours of useable light ... we're getting near September 23rd so the UK daylight hours are getting closer to 12on/12off but since I've not been getting up at 5:30am, it means that sightseeing in Japan is something that (aside from bright lights of city) is pretty much over by 6pm each day ... then back to the hotel and change for dinner and nighttime events (kareoke etc.)
I was talking to a lovely couple from Liverpool (Jenny and Carl) on the flight back and they had won their flight from a mobile phone game download competition. 7 days in Tokyo at the Hilton Shinjuku ... but they said they were so jetlagged that they were waking in the early hours, having the hotel breakfast, going back to sleep until 2pm and only heading out then ... and that they had pretty much stayed in the Shinjuku area (no subway trips etc.) ... still they sounded like they had had a fabulous time!
My advice to anyone travelling to Japan in the middle of summer is
a) don't, go in Spring for the cherry blossoms (March I think) and the more temperate weather, or in the late Autumn (October)
b) lots of short sleeved white shirts and be prepared to sweat! Drink lots of water!!
c) get up early and go visit things early while it is still only stifling hot and before it gets far too hot and humid ... it rains one day in three in September, and it seems to cloud over more in the afternoon (at least that was my experience) so for the best lighting for photographs, again go earlier in the day and be prepared for a lot of overcast afternoons and rainy days.
e.g. Tomorrow Tokyo will have a high of 33C and a low of 26C, London (Feltham) is a high of 23 and a low of 13 (and dropping to a low of 7C by later in the week), so on a lovely warm summer's day here in Feltham, the high temperature is still lower than the coolest part of the Tokyo night.
On bus from Heathrow to Feltham. Change buses there and I'll be home in 30 minutes. Long queue for passport control but first piece of luggage got to conveyor belt at same time as I did. Second piece was fairly quick behind, and it was straight through customs, long walk to Central Bus Station, and I am just passing next year's Eastercon hotel as I type this.
Sunny day, 22 centigrade and I am wiped out from flight and excellent 3 weeks. Will post more later.
On plane about to leave, too much luggage still, 16,560yen to post 10kg or 7,700yen/kilo excess for 7kg. I had 17,000yen left so I posted. Sayonara Japan!
... took the train to Narita last night, I had a reservation for the 20:04 but the nice conductor decided there was plenty of room on the 19:04 and let me take that instead.
The train is fast but it does lean a lot and bounce around a little. The toilets aren't in every car so you may have to walk to find a toilet (there was one between car 8 and 9 on my train, and between 6 and 7 was the conductor's room) ... also between 8 and 9 was the vending machine ... but they have a trolley that comes through the train selling drinks (hot and cold), candy and sandwiches/sushi rolls.
WARNING: The train stops a few times between Tokyo and Narita Airport, and one of those stops is NARITA ... don't be fooled, that's the town/city itself and not the Airport; stay on the train and the next stop (I think) is Narita Airport Terminal 2, then the stop after is Narita Airport ... also really worthwhile knowing which terminal you're flying from so you can pick the right exit.
Anyway, it's 7:22, and I have an 8:30 shuttle bus booked to the terminal, and an 11am flight, so the next time I post is either going to be from my phone in the airport, or from my own computer back in the UK.
Thanks again everyone, it's been wonderful!
... in spite of the fact that I'm renting a room in Asakusa and my luggage is there, I'm staying in Yokohama tonight! Met John and Wakey from the convention for a meal (after touring Akihabara with John earlier and spending well over one hundred ... yen. I bought a three socket plug adapter and NOTHING ELSE (well, lunch, but nothing else otherwise!) Saw the Tsujiki Fish Market earlier with T and had the freshest most delicous sushi, and then wandered around the Hamaryoki Gardens and had traditional tea in the beautiful teahouse in the middle of the lake.
So I'm here, my luggage is there, and I'll have to head back early in the morning to do my last packing and wrapping stuff for posting. It's mostly big piles of paperwork collected at the convention, so heavy but easily posted and can go surface mail.
And so to bed ...
... due to the five hours plus on the train travel, plus the packing time and the sitting in restaurant time, only managed 4,500 steps yesterday (mostly up and down stairs dragging luggage for the first 3,000, and the last 1,500 were wandering around the market and bar area of Asakusa with T last night as he helpfully offered to aid me in increasing the step count!)
Should do a bit better today, I hope!
... according to my GPS tracker/logger, (and based on a quick check) the fastest the bullet train travelled yesterday was 273kph = 170mph!