Here’s a post slightly edited (with my roommate’s permission) about her trip yesterday to Tokyo. – Sarah

There and Back Again, A Fail Tale.

So yeah, the title isn’t a typo, it really is fail…

I then organised a quite spontaneous on the spot trip to Tokyo with my friend Ver-Ver (as I shall call her for now) to raid the Square Enix building together on Facebook.  Only a couple of small problems with that.  According to her Facebook status, she has no internet and no phone.  So, contact was…limited, to say the least.  So, we made some pretty hurried, rough plans, and I set about organising what trains I would need to catch and when.
I managed to get a rough plan, using google maps, copied down the kanji as well as I could, prayed a little bit, set my alarm clock for 7am, and settled down to sleep.  Got up at 7, and then checked Facebook, still under the impression that we had arranged to meet for 1 at Takadanobabashi, in Tokyo.
…Crap.  Not one.  Twelve.  I quickly rechecked the times for the trains.  Double crap.  If I wanted to get there for twelve, I was gonna have to catch the train at quarter past eight and then be brilliantly, epically on time for all my other trains, including the ones that were one minute apart.  I checked my watch.  Man the crap was building up.  It was now 7:40, and there was no way I was going to get to the station on time.  I left Ver-Ver a hasty message on Facebook, prayed she’d get it, and set off.
Boom.  Right outside the Seminar House (dorm where I’m staying) was a bus straight to Hirakatashi (the station).  If I caught it, there was a chance I’d get there in good time.  Bravely, I strode up towards the bus’s open doors.  And halted.   Huh…  There was a thingie…a machine thingie that looked like it wanted money…..buuuut…it didn’t tell you how much money it wanted….hmmm…
Two minutes later that same bus wooshed past me as I boldly strode up the hill and muttered derogatory curses to myself.
Roughly an hour later, I was there.  Hirakatashi.  Epic.  Right…now what?
I purposefully strode into the station and…dithered.  My timetable was entirely in Kanji, the majority of which I didn’t know.  Matching them up with the maps wasn’t exactly going to be briliant…
Eventually I went to the information desk to ask for help, and managed to make it understood that yes, this was a train timetable, and I wanted to know what the kanji actually said.  She was very nice, and translated for me, pointed out where I should buy a ticket and how, and smiled at my clumsy ‘arigatou gozaimasu’s, and bows.  So, off I went to Tambabashi!  …Man I love these station names.
Right.  Got to Tambabashi without dying or getting drastically lost.  Cool.  Managed to get a ticket to Tokufuji too, without help!  ….I’ll come back to this in a sec.  The only help I needed at Tambabashi was aking which track to go to.  The info-guy pointed it out, and I happily got on and went off my merry way.
So, Tokufuji.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was the correct one when I boarded, so I asked an old lady if it stopped at Tokukufujiii (can you tell I messed up pronounciation?)  And, lo and behold, I was understood and informed that yes, it did!  Whoop whoop!  The old lady then proceeded to inform me it was the next stop the stop before, and I gave her a very sincere and grateful bow and thank you, which made her smile.  So, I got out, went through the ticket barrier and…paused.  Huh.  It was just a small one, sort of like a subway one, and there wasn’t much there.  So, I started searching for my next train, to take me to Kyoto.  …  …Huh.  No Kyoto listed on the map above the paying machines.  Hmmm….  I hunted about a bit more, failed to find it, sighed, and payed 200 yen to go back again.
Back to Tamababashi.  And back to the good old info desk.  Heeeelp.  I managed to explain to them that I had come from Hirakatashi, and wanted to get to Kyoto, but I had been to Tokufuji like my plan said and I couldn’t figure out where to go next.  They informed me that actually, I had got it right the first time, ANNNND, actually, I shouldn’t have bought a new ticket cos the one I got in Hirakatashi would have covered me to Tambabashi.  But, nicely enough, they gave me a ‘Go to Tofukuji free’ card (serious) and sent me off.
Hello again Tofukuji.  I handed the card over to the little guy at the desk next to the ticket gates and he waved me through with a smile (everyone seems so genuinely NICE here, it’s refreshing).  And there I was again, trying to find Kyoto.  …  …  …Mmmm nope, still no Kyoto.  Huh.  So, I asked the guy at the gate.  "Uh…Kyoto?"  "Aaah, upstairs."
Up…upstairs.  Right.  So, 400 yen down the drain then.  I sighed and squared my shoulders.  Ah well, onwards and upwards.  Literally.  I trudged up the stairs, and gosh, there was a whole other station up here!  Now, my planner had said that the trip for Tokufuji would be upwards of 7,000 yen.  Guess what it actually was?  The cheapest of the day, 140 yen.  Whew.
Three minutes later, there I was in Kyoto.  From then on, there wasn’t much drama.  Turned out the ticket machine only sells you one of two tickets you need (done it twice now and I STILL don’t get it) and I had to buy another from the lady by the ticket gate. (Was mildly epic – I asked her if she spoke English in Japanese, and she said only a little, to which I replied the same, again in Japanese whoop!  Made her smile.)
Shinkansen was cool enough – epically fast and sleek and shiny, only mildly ruined by the yellow green of dead bugs all over the front.  …Yeeah.  And then the bad news.  I accidentally chose to sit in the smokers carriage.  There was a still smoking cigarette in the ashtray at my elbow.  And then the snoring started.  A guy (I presume) two seats back, snoring like a really badly wrangled drain pipe.  It was BAD.  I felt sick if I listened to it for too long.  For real.  And the Shinkansen was a two hour plus trip.  I turned my iPod up and settled down to nap.
Shinagawa was pretty much uneventful, except for the fact that the guy who pointed out which platform I should go to put me on the train going the opposite way, and I had gone two stations before realising the numbers were going the wrong way.
By now, it was two o’clock, and the chances of meeting up with my friend were slim to none.  After some confusion at Takadanobabashi (awesome awesome names) what with the whole more than one floor and a station per each one, I found my way out and realised no, no Ver-Ver was not here, nor likely to be.
So.  Ok.  Square Enix, here I come, on my own and therefore potentially more deadly.  But first…to find it.  I went and asked the Metro shop.  Uh…nope, nope, never heard of it, can’t help.  Here, a map to the police station!  Hmmm…gee, thanks.  A hint maybe?  But, after a couple of minutes confusing the nice (young, handsome) policeman, who unfortunately did not seems to have a sense of humour, I finally got basic directions and was off.  It was essentially, ‘go to that street there, turn left and keep walking straight down that road.’  Cool.
Half an hour later, I was at the end of ‘that road’, with no hope at all the overwhelming urge to bash my head against something.  This was confirmed when I asked in a game shop, which really ought to know where the head quarters of the best selling game company in the world was, and got a ‘zenzen wakarimasen’.  Essentially, ‘Sorry, no clue!’.  Great.
Tired and defeated, I consoled myself by stealing into a bookshop and browsing the manga section…They were all actually surprisingly cheap, and I got back on the Shinkansen satisfied, and enjoyed flicking through them the journey back (smoke free this time).
So, I got back ok, swanned through the train stations without any help at all, and then trudged tiredly back to the seminar house, refusing to take a bus on the grounds that I need to loose weight.
So, that was my epic adventure of doom folks!  Hope you enjoyed!