Bonus Life Activated! – Shibuya – Part 1 – Lost in Translation

When I was planning my return from Australia, an interesting route popped up – Sydney to Tokyo then a 15 hour layover until LAX. A mini trip to Tokyo (via Haneda which is much closer than Narita.) I couldn’t book that fast enough.

Flying via ANA, I was given access to New Zealand Airlines business lounge, which was pretty standard. I was saving my meal for the flight anyway, which was pretty good, especially the smoked duck appetizer. My seat and this airplane for that matter had seen its better days – including the undersized bottom of the flat bed which made getting my legs in fully challenging.

I was still able to get in at least a few hours of fitful sleep and soon arrived, in pitch black 5am to Haneda. My plan was to head to the ANA Lounge to drop my backpack off and more critically, take a shower. This unraveled quickly as they forced me to go through immigration after I told them I’m trying to just stay in the airport.

After jumping through many hoops (Japan still getting the process smoothed out letting foreigners back into the country). I found myself in front of the bus ticketing office. I opted for the 8:30am bus to Shibuya as that would give me enough time for a quick nap and then shower.

My first sign of trouble was when my boarding pass didn’t work to get me back into Departures for the lounge. I had to wait about 20 mins for the ANA ticketing office to fix that. Soon I arrived at the lounge so it was time for a quick nap. The lounge was absolutely rammed with people, including many screaming kids so I was looking forward to getting into Shibuya.

I had made a reservation for the shower room and after about an hour it was my turn. The shower room was very, very nice – from the incredibly comfy bath towel to everything from toothbrush/toothpaste to a stool to sit down getting dressed. I was feeling soo much better… which lasted about 5 minutes until after a tortured back and forth with a lounge attendant via eventually Google Translate, I had to keep backpack. I wasn’t pleased but had a bus to catch. Except, there was one problem. I had no way of getting outside because I was in Departures.

After a few failed attempts, I retreated back to the lounge to figure out what to do. Again, the communication was painful but eventually, they got someone from Immigration to help out. It was now past my bus departure but at this point, I just didn’t want to be trapped at the airport.

Finally. I was instructed to follow this rep who took me to an abbreviated version of the process – basically the one crew members go through. I was told I wouldn’t be let in a third time today (Hell I didn’t want it to be twice!) and was free. I went back to the bus ticket office and they graciously swapped out a new ride, which was leaving in a few minutes.

I had made an 11am reservation for Shibuya Sky (see part 2 coming soon!) and by the time I got to Shibuya it was now 10:45. I had read about a place where I could drop off my bag but had a lot trouble finding it. Eventually through basically a lot of sign language back and forth, I found out it doesn’t open until 11 – great.

Google Maps had enough problems for me in Australia but it had no shot in Tokyo where things are almost entirely vertical and therefor making it a real challenge to find spots. After basically going in circles, I finally found the correct entrance… only the elevator didn’t stop on that floor. I was soon joined by a group of travelers all lost trying to find this stupid thing.

Through our collective efforts, we were able to figure out where to go, and I made it with a minute to spare on my timed ticket.

Now the fun would finally begin…


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