Posted: May 10, 2006 in Uncategorized

Really, you don’t truly appreciate the weight of how long 10 1/2 consecutive hours is until you’ve spent it wedged between two strangers in a giant metal tube, watching the little plane icon that’s supposed to be you creep across the ocean on the scratched screen embedded in the seat in front of you. After a point, time and date become abstract concepts, and you begin to seriously consider hiding in one of the bathrooms and making covert raids on the drink cart. However, I must give it to the airlines; for all the cutting back they’ve been doing, they truly show their sympathy for such a long confinement. Not only do they give you a plethora of movies to select and watch, they also feed you twice and, most pityingly of all, give you free booze.

But, eventually we emerged from the twilight zone and landed in Tokyo. This was it. I was about to step into a world that for all I knew was completely unintelligable to me and any attempts to communicate would be greeted by looks like I was a howler monkey wearing a bowler hat. Luckily I’d spent the flight learning useful tidbits from my Lonely Planet guide and Dave Barry Does Japan, like don’t tip your waiters and the Japanese don’t know what “booger” means. I was ready.

The result however was a bit underwhelming. Steeling myself at every turn, my initial impression was that I’d landed in Honolulu by mistake. With the significant number of haoles milling around and the surprising humidity, it felt surprisingly familiar. I had to keep looking at signs to reaffirm I was either in fact in Japan or having a mild stroke. Bracing myself for my first immigration encounter, I walked up to the counter, handed my passport over to the very bored-looking guy behind it, and gathered myself to answer whatever questions he’d spring on me. Instead, he simply stamped my passport, stapled a piece of paper to it, and halfheartedly waved me on. Customs was the same story, only in a snappy royal blue suit. So, surprised but relieved by the simplicity of my first international arrival, I bought a ticket on the first bus to the hotel and waited. No train ride during rush hour my first day in; I’ll save the conductor’s boot in the back and loss of all personal space for later in the week.

The half-conscious bus ride through Tokyo was remarkable. The city is immense and endless, and passing by office window after office window, I learned a) nobody apparently goes home, and b) it’s true, all the office workers dress exactly alike. The hotel check-in was a blur, but the one overwhelming thing about it was just how much they focus on hospitality. It’s almost painful how nice and attentive they are. The guy who grabbed my bags could’ve been just a really tall house elf.

What day is it again?

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW–and to think that you once thought you couldn’t write!

  2. Anonymous says:

    WOW–and to think that you once thought you couldn’t write!

  3. somechick says:

    What a great entry πŸ™‚ I’m glad you arrived safely — I’m surprised at how easy the trip through immigrations and customs were — hell, I get questioned driving across the border into the US!
    Looking forward to more updates if you find the time πŸ™‚

  4. Anonymous says:

    What a great entry πŸ™‚ I’m glad you arrived safely — I’m surprised at how easy the trip through immigrations and customs were — hell, I get questioned driving across the border into the US!

    Looking forward to more updates if you find the time πŸ™‚

  5. rusulki says:

    Heehee, tall house elf.
    Just remember, if Godzilla comes at you, just roll him up in your katamari. I’m pretty sure I read that in a guide book somewhere.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Heehee, tall house elf.

    Just remember, if Godzilla comes at you, just roll him up in your katamari. I’m pretty sure I read that in a guide book somewhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      I heard sirens briefly very early this morning, and still half-asleep I actually thought, “Is Godzilla attacking?”

  7. muffster says:

    i knew after years in Hawaii you would be right at home πŸ˜‰ glad you are having fun πŸ™‚
    bring me something cooooooooolllllll :p
    oh and i don’t know what day it is… i lost all ablity to distinguis time and date with out electronic confirmation sometime in the late ’80s

  8. Anonymous says:

    i knew after years in Hawaii you would be right at home πŸ˜‰ glad you are having fun πŸ™‚

    bring me something cooooooooolllllll :p

    oh and i don’t know what day it is… i lost all ablity to distinguis time and date with out electronic confirmation sometime in the late ’80s

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m having a hard time not collecting everything unusual and cool I see! I’ll be sure to bring back souveniers though!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice picture! I almost expected a Spinner from ‘Blade Runner’ to be in the foreground passing by the screens.
    Have fun!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Nice picture! I almost expected a Spinner from ‘Blade Runner’ to be in the foreground passing by the screens.

    Have fun!

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately I can’t take credit for that picture since my camera batteries died on the flight over, but I’ll be replacing it with one that’ll almost certainly look much like it as soon as I get some.

  11. Anonymous says:

    arriving in Honolulu
    That’s funny. I forgot my reaction to landing in Tokyo was exactly the same – that I had landed in Honolulu, only the accents were harder to understand and the signs harder to read. Maybe it provides some insight in to how unusual your youth was that Tokyo doesn’t seem all that foreign.

  12. Anonymous says:

    arriving in Honolulu

    That’s funny. I forgot my reaction to landing in Tokyo was exactly the same – that I had landed in Honolulu, only the accents were harder to understand and the signs harder to read. Maybe it provides some insight in to how unusual your youth was that Tokyo doesn’t seem all that foreign.

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