Not cycling related at all BUT ......

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,655
474
103
Japan
#1
I have a 16 year old nephew coming into the country for a holiday with very rudimentary Japanese skills. He needs to get a train to Tokyo station and then a Shink to Aomori. Does anyone know of an escort service that could navigate him to the correct places? You can imagine anything I googled was for Hotels or Tokyo tours but I couldn't find anything for just wet nursing some train transfers.
 

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#3
Common sense (hah!) says that there are plenty of (for example) university students who'd be able to do this; but once you add this person's own railfare plus a thousand yen per hour, the price adds up close to what's asked by a company such as Airserve. Factor in risks such as that the well-meaning student realizes too late that he doesn't quite understand Narita as well as he thought he did, and ask yourself what would happen if the flight were delayed four or even eight hours, and maybe the company will seem the safer choice.

As for students, plenty are fluent in English and are conscientious -- but most of these have at least enough engagements to make a four-hour-plus stint difficult to arrange. They'd have to cut classes (perhaps easily done!) or rearrange their other baito. Add to this the way in which plenty of students can appear to be conscientious and then suddenly forget all about an arrangement or come down with a mysterious malaise ... I'd be nervous about a person who seems to have his head screwed on the right way; I'd want somebody known to have his head screwed on the right way.

(No offence intended to any of you students, parents of students, or similar. I too was a student once. [Actually, twice.] Many students would of course do an excellent job. But which students are they? Yourself, of course. But your friends?)
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,511
639
133
Kanazawa
#4
I'd guess that getting onto a bus at Narita would be do-able. You could pre-book the ticket and the kid would only have to find the right platform to board. Then the issue is off the bus at Tokyo station and onto a train.

Have you considered having him fly? Then the usual bus from Narita to Haneda, and onto a flight from there should be do-able by someone with no Japanese.

Further and best case, there may be some direct Narita-Aomori flights. (There are to Kanazawa, and I've already booked a pair of those for a Sept trip.) Probably a bit more than the train, but he then would not have to leave the airport, and there might be an airline person who could be an intra-airport guide.
 
May 22, 2007
3,571
1,390
143
Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#5
What I do with visitors - official and private - all the time is send them a small PDF sheet of instructions written in Japanese and English, including local destination contact details; one copy to be kept in their passport, one in their wallet, another in a pocket or in luggage. On a separate sheet the phrases "sumimasen" (help me please) and "arigatow gozaimass". Haven't lost anyone yet.

Enjoy the visit. It's nice to have family come and stay.
 

stanc

Maximum Pace
Sep 4, 2011
255
41
58
Brighton
#6
What Mike says. I'd use the NEX as it goes straight to Tokyo station. There is a good video on Youtube that walks you through Narita to the platform I know from experience how intimidating it is when you walk through arrivals & are faced with all the signs in Japanese, signage in English has improved greatly over recent years though. It took me an embarassingly long time to find the station on my first visit.

 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,655
474
103
Japan
#7
Thanks for the replies, yeah as an adult it can be intimidating but imagine yourself as a 16 year old flying into Narita, first time abroad after about 15 hours of traveling, with a two hour window to make the last train from Tokyo up north. No flights after midday up here and if you think getting to Haneda is any easier than Tokyo station, hmm.
The best option is for me to scoot down and pick him up but at 35,000 円 for just me, might suggest he hitch hike. Great way to meet the locals.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#8
Narita is one of the easiest airports in the world. There are staff all over the place. Just give him a cue sheet:

1) Exit Aircraft
2) Go To Arrivals
3) Pick Up Baggage
4) Go Downstairs to JR TRAINS
5) Go to JR NEX Counter and buy a ticket to TOKYO STATION
6) ARRIVE at TOKYO STATION
7) GO To Ticket Counter for Shinkansens
8) Buy a Ticket to Hachinoe (or wherever)

Take a few picx so he knows what the tickets look like.

If he doesn't have local money, then get him a pre-charged VISA card before he goes. He can use it any 7-11 ATM , Citibank and most Postal Savings. Also can use to buy tickets.

Also a good idea to make sure his mobile phone can accept calls in Japan (and SMS capable). But like most 16yo these days, he probably has an iPhone - so you can use iMessages, or whatever. If he does - though - MAKE SURE TO TELL HIM TO TURN DATA ROAMING OFF - or you will be stuck with a MEGA BILL!
 

StuInTokyo

Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
1,662
62
78
#9
Tell you what, I'll be your back up plan.

Give him my number etc and if for some reason he misses his train that day, I'll go and collect him and then take him to the station and make sure he gets on the train the next day.

If he does have an iPhone then at Narita he can get a Japanese Sim card, it costs just 105 yen a day, but you can receive calls for free, and sending SMS text costs only 15 yen each. Yes iMessages work but only if you have WiFi. Softbank Rental has a counter at Narita. You can book it for him in advance and he can just pick it up. My daughter used this in April and the total cost for just under two weeks was around 1850 yen, IIRC. If no iPhone they do also rent regular handsets and they too are cheap, if you don't call out on them, only get calls.
My daughters have been traveling too and from Canada on summer vacations etc since they were about 8 years old, once they are 15 they can travel without being "Unaccompanied Minors" and have to go it alone, they both did this when they moved from Tokyo to Canada. We saw them off at Narita then then landed at Vancouver and had to go through immigration by themselves, then collect their luggage and go to the domestic terminal and check in on a regional airline. They did it, and I will bet that your nephew can do this too.
Just as a back up plan, I'll be a safety net if you need it.
Cheers!
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,655
474
103
Japan
#10
Cheers Stu, I might keep that in mind but I think his mother in New Zealand might not think he can do it. If they were my kids who have basically been abroad every 18 months, yep 15 and you are on your own. Good idea about the phones and I might forward this thread to my sister in law. Appreciate all the advice.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,429
874
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#11
If he does have an iPhone then at Narita he can get a Japanese Sim card, it costs just 105 yen a day, but you can receive calls for free, and sending SMS text costs only 15 yen each.
According to Wikipedia, phones in New Zealand are not SIM-locked, so Stu's suggestion should work fine.

NEX is a good suggestion, because it runs direct to Tokyo Station - almost impossible to get lost.

When my parents (who don't even speak English and only traveled by air twice in their whole lives) came to visit me in Japan, they also managed immigration, baggage pickup and customs with no problems.

Of course it's up to the parents how much they want to trust their 16 year old son's abilities and they know him best, but when I was one year older than that, I spent 4 weeks traveling through Europe (the last 3rd of it all on my own). It should be very manageable.
 
Likes: kiwisimon

microcord

Maximum Pace
Aug 28, 2012
914
294
83
Tokyo
#12
Narita is one of the easiest airports in the world. There are staff all over the place. Just give him a cue sheet:

1) Exit Aircraft
2) Go To Arrivals
3) Pick Up Baggage
4) Go Downstairs to JR TRAINS
5) Go to JR NEX Counter and buy a ticket to TOKYO STATION
6) ARRIVE at TOKYO STATION
7) GO To Ticket Counter for Shinkansens
8) Buy a Ticket to Hachinoe (or wherever)
But, but, but -- excuse my ignorant stereotypes about NZ (I've never been there) -- but Tokyo station might have a population similar to the total of that of every station he's yet been to, there are (or appear to be) different counters for different directions/days of Shinkansen, etc. He should be able to handle this without hired help, but in his place my long-ago 16-year-old self would appreciate more than a mere cue sheet. Or anyway a rather more detailed cue sheet, e.g.:

7) Go to ticket counter for Tohoku shinkansen (same-day departures)

(Unfortunately I can't think of the rest.)
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,655
474
103
Japan
#13
But, but, but -- excuse my ignorant stereotypes about NZ (I've never been there) -- but Tokyo station might have a population similar to the total of that of every station he's yet been to, there are (or appear to be) different counters for different directions/days of Shinkansen, etc. He should be able to handle this without hired help, but in his place my long-ago 16-year-old self would appreciate more than a mere cue sheet. Or anyway a rather more detailed cue sheet, e.g.:

7) Go to ticket counter for Tohoku shinkansen (same-day departures)

(Unfortunately I can't think of the rest.)
He's never been to a station. So yes, in fact Shinjiku station has a daily foot count almost that of NZ.
Looks like we have a volunteer lined up to meet and greet and put him on the train. It's the time factor or lack of that was my biggest concern, after his angry mum.