It was, as to be expected, a harrowing day of travel and excitement getting to Japan. Considering that the whole event had me essentially awake for 27 hours, I’m actually writing this on Saturday…
Anyway, up at 3:00 AM to get ready for a 4:00 AM airport shuttle. I was surprised at how concerned I was about my two cats but since I’ve basically been home with them all day every day for a year, I think they’re gonna miss me. The trip to LAX was uneventful, the hassle getting to the plane typical but not too bad and the flight to SFO smooth and quick.
But the SFO airport is a big pain. I couldn’t believe there are no Starbucks shops in the airport—so much for using my 100% attendance $10 gift card reward from Korean class for a free breakfast. The layover was a few hours and then onto the plane for the long flight. When I checked in online yesterday, I spent the extra $119 to move into “Economy Plus” which gave me an extra 5” of legroom which was totally worth it. Sadly, since I am essentially unable to sleep on any plane, I spent the whole time listening to music on my iPhone.
When we landed at Kansai International Airport, the adventure began. I’m back in Japan! I breezed through the customs and immigration formalities (you get your photo taken along with electronic fingerprinting of both your index fingers), found a Citibank ATM machine to get some cash, bought a ticket and boarded the Haruka express train to Kyoto, then the subway and finally a taxi. By the time I got to the dorms, there was only half an hour left for the welcome party which was being held on campus. It was all a bit hectic…
But again—I’m back in Japan! It was almost like coming home again and the memories started coming back (as best they can after 27 hours of no sleep) and it was great. This time I was actually able to converse with, understand and react to people right off the bat. I still feel like my Japanese is a little bit “caveman-like”, but it’ll get better.
The one thing I’d forgotten was the weird feeling of how the weather works here. It wasn’t raining at the airport, but did from the time I got on the train and all the way to Kyoto. As a Southern Californian who lives in a virtually rainless desert, my body and mind are hard-wired to believe that when you look out the window and see rain and gray, that it’s going to be cold and wintertime. The shock is that once you step off the train into that outside world here in Japan in the summer, it’s actually 90 degrees and extremely humid. The first time, it’s quite a psychological shock.
Anyway, after the party all I could do was make a feeble first attempt at unpacking and then fall right into bed (and I slept for a solid 10 hours, too.)
I’m glad to be back.