After one final short sleep in my own bed, it was time to head out. (You can read about my travel plans here) I said my goodbyes to my sister and dad and drove to Frankfurt airport with my mom. Those were the first 248 kilometers of what was going to be a very long journey. Since I wanted to take my skis with me I had a lot of extra luggage. My skis, a big suitcase for all of my clothes and a bag for my ski-boots and helmet. I wanted to that bag as my carry-on but I quickly found out that it was going to be just a little too big. Luckily the very kind people at ANA checked the bag. I just took some of the important things out of the bag and put it in a backpack I brought anyways. That brings the total up to four bags that I would have to carry through Japan. My mom and I had some very nice German breakfast at the airport and then it was time to go.
Boarding started right on time and an hour later, I was in the air. I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me, that way my long legs had a bit more space to fit somewhere. So I spent the next 11 hours watching movies and trying to get some sleep. When we landed, it was now 7 o’clock in the morning and I had traveled 9717 kilometers by plane.
7 am (Japan time):
After a very fast immigration, I had to find a way to transport all my luggage. While I was waiting, I found one of the trolleys to put all of your bags on. But I found out quickly that I would have to abandon that idea because all of the lifts and escalators had metal posts before them so that you would not take your cart with you. So I had to get creative: First I tried putting my backpack and its contents back inside of my other bags but that somehow failed, even though everything was in there before. Second, I put on my backpack, then my skiboot-bag in front of my chest and then tried to carry the skis and my suitcase. I was about twice as big as any door and could barely see anything.
What I ended up doing is I attached my skiboot-bag to my suitcase, wore my backpack around one shoulder and my skis vertically around the other one. This way I was only a bit bigger than most doors, but definitely a lot taller than anything. As I got into the subway, I had to basically go in completely sideways. It must have looked very weird to say the least.
I first had to go to another terminal to get my SIM card for the trip. I had to pick it up at the post office, which inconveniently opens at 9. That meant I had two hours in which I couldn’t do much of anything. Luckily there was WIFI at the terminal, so I could at least see how I could get to Hakuba.
I got my SIM and now it was time to go. First I took the monorail to Tokyo station (21 km). The longer I stayed on the train the more people accumulated until they all got out at the station. With all my luggage I felt like I was taking up the space of at least four people if not more. It quickly felt very crowded and once I got to the station, there were even more people that then started to run around in the hopes of catching their train. I took everything very slowly and waited until it cleared up a bit. Avoiding stairs at all costs, I headed to Ekiben-ya Matsuri where I got my lunch for the day: The famous Tokyo station bento.
I ate this when I got on to the shinkansen to Nagano. This was the second to last part of my journey to Hakuba. Riding in a shinkansen is honestly one of the best travel experiences I’ve had so far. It was super quiet, you have a lot of room and it’s also really, really fast. With just 2 stops, I rode 240 km in just 1 1/2 hours.
The next bus that was leaving to Hakuba was at 1 pm, so I had a bit of time to kill in Nagano. I walked around the city a bit, but there was really not too much to see.
All the way on the one hour bus ride to Hakuba (44 km) I looked out for snow. Only in the last few kilometers is where it started to snow very nicely. I was picked up at the bus station in hakuba and got taken to the guesthouse. This is where my next report will pick up so stay tuned!
Total time spent traveling:
Eislingen-Frankfurt: 2 1/2 hours
Frankfurt-Tokyo/Haneda: 12 hours
Haneda-Tokyo Station: 20 min
Tokyo Station-Nagano: 1 1/2 hours
Nagano-Hakuba: 1 hour 10 min
Total: 26 1/2 hours
Eislingen-Frankfurt: 248 km
Frankfurt-Tokyo/Haneda: 9717 km
Haneda-Tokyo Station: 21 km
Tokyo Station-Nagano: 240 km
Nagano-Hakuba: 44 km