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Sun 4 Sep 2011 by mskala Tags used:

I got off the Narita Express at the wrong station - Shibuya instead of Shinjuku. Resolving that should have been easy: get on the local train from Shibuya to Shinjuku, at no cost except the lost time because I have a pass. But somewhere in the process of figuring that out, I lost my camera. This could have been predicted because I was making a conscious effort to keep it in my hand, not in my pocket, the better to make quick snapshots, and the consequence is that it was easy to set down somewhere. My name and email address are stored on it, so it's quite possible it may find its way back to me again eventually, but it appears I had better buy another one because I need one immediately. Gee, I wish I happened to be visiting the consumer electronics capital of the world right now...

It is worth mentioning that although losing the camera is annoying, there are many other things I could well have lost that would have gotten me in Big Trouble - like my passport, for instance, or my rail pass. I can buy a new camera quite easily; it wasn't an expensive one.

Then once I got to Shinjuku station I got lost looking for my hotel. I think I owe an offering to the kami of Hanazono Shrine, because that was the landmark that worked. Once I found the shrine, the rest of my route was right where I expected it to be. Nothing else in Shinjuku looks the way I expected it to at night.

Meanwhile, I skipped exchanging my money at the airport because I thought it would be better to find a bank machine and withdraw fresh money rather than trying to exchange Canadian, but finding a bank machine that would take my Canadian ATM card was harder than I thought. It also didn't help that the Japan Rail staff were so incredibly efficient - I had thought to exchange money in between getting my train ticket and getting on the train, but that was not what happened. I just sort of vaguely waved my JR Pass Exchange Order at the staff and really before I knew it I was on the Narita Express to Shinjuku with all the rest of my reserved tickets for the entire trip in hand and triple-checked. I didn't have to speak Japanese to them because they didn't let me get a word in edgewise. Of course, it may have helped that I did have all my paperwork in order (and in Japanese) beforehand. Maybe a really clueless tourist would be processed at a more leisurely pace.

They have ATMs that handle foreign cards in Seven Elevens, right? And Google Maps shows roughly one Seven Eleven per three residents of Japan, even in podunk rural towns. But, like cops, where's one when you need one? By the time I figured out that it would be better to just cave and change the Canadian dollars, it was too late. I did find a Seven Eleven on my way from Hanazono Shrine to the hotel. Not having money had secondary consequences like not being able to phone my local contact. Even now that I have some cash, it's in 10000-yen bills, roughly equivalent to $100 each, and I'm pretty sure the vending machines won't take those. But I could be surprised.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, something went wrong in the colo facility that hosts this Web site. Fortunately, one of the services I pay for is having someone else resolve such things. It seems to be up now. I'm sure that when I have time to read it, the story will be interesting. Right now I have no idea what happened.

Now I've been awake way too long, and still have things to do before I sleep.

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Whew!!!! The site is up. I have started making maps for my talk next Saturday. Bless you for leaving things in good hands. (It will be about astrology in azimuth, so I have to do a lot of hand drawing as well - both conventional-looking charts in azimuth and landscape images to give an idea of what I am talking about. I can program functions that output coordinates to give me a basis for drawing the pictures but I've never paid attention to digital graphics.)
Axel - 2011-09-04 07:21
Don't be too afraid of 10000 yen bills. At no point did I get any objection from using them, and if you're brave you can use them at stations. Just be aware that the machine might try to make change in coins if it's out of notes (never happened to me). You're right about normal vending machines, though -- they'll only take 1000 yen bills.
bucko - 2011-09-04 10:28

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