日本へようこそ！I have arrived in Japan and the mixed feelings I was having the morning of my departure are still rattling me. Before I go into depth on them, I must elaborate on the longest flight of my life.
When I began flying, my first trip of remembrance was to San Francisco when I was dating Dean. That measly hour and a half was a nightmare. Then I branched out to Iowa with its gnarly 8 hour. Soaring across the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo’s Narita Airport only added 2 more hours to my existing record but when my muscles ached like the devil with a kidney stone and my backside numb with the lack of movement, I found it hard to be exuberant about the whole affair. Adding to the situation was the girl I had the (un)fortune to sit next to. I thought I was messy! Not only was I being crowded into the wall of the cabin, my limited foot room was being compromised. I walked away from that flight with plastic wrappers stuck to my feet. I don’t want to think if it was static electricity or something else more suspicious.
I was aware coming here involved my going through Customs and Immigration. I had no clue that I needed to bring my entire luggage. I assumed that it would find me at the end of my trip, but I was wrong. When I got to the counter to check in for the flight from Tokyo to Nagoya, I was questioned about the rest of my bags. I’m sure the look on my face said it all. I have to hand my hat off to the staff that helps keep the airports going. My bags had been set aside and retrieved. I just about gave myself a stroke running around that much all of a sudden. Even though my legs were cramping something fierce, I made it to the plane! If I could give any advice to anyone, it’d be, “Make sure you bring everything through Customs.” I had nothing to declare, so the whole situation works out.
Here’s another tidbit of advice: Use duty-free shops to purchase your goods, souvenirs, etc. These are tax-free items and are waived by Customs. Lastly, if you know you’re going to need a hotel, please book ahead of time.
There are three hotels that surround the Chubu International Airport: Comfort Inn, Toyoko Inn and Chubu Hotel. Already exhausted from my mad dash, it nearly killed me to walk and find a location that would be put me up for the night that wasn’t already full. Turned away from two, Toyoko Inn took me in.
I don’t know what the Japanese standards are for a hotel, but I thought mine was well off after I figured out how to turn on the electricity. Relying on Google as my go-to, I found out that there is no electricity in the room for the appliances until I inserted my key stick into a small hole in the wall. The downside that simple trick is that you’re forced to turn off the flow when you leave the room. How else are you going to get back into your room without a key?
Being a girl who is used to all kinds of space in the bathroom, I was rather cramped whenever I needed to use it. Funnily enough, having been so interested in the modern Japanese bathroom, I wasn’t too surprised to see it. There’s a bathtub, a sink, and toilet. How unusual is that? I was familiar with the Japanese concept of showering before bathing; however, I was concerned about getting what I had set up in there wet. Without seeing another’s arrangement, my own cultural norms dictated I take a simple rinse and run. Yes, I did use the bidet on the toilet. Not every toilet in Japan will have these! I felt foolish after realizing the water spraying my undercarriage wasn’t going to stop automatically.
Despite the humor of my sticking out like a sore thumb, the toll of it took a hold of me after attempting to sleep for about two hours. I was away from my family, my dogs, my be-starred bedroom… I was desperately alone. My only lifeline was the cell phone sitting on the desk. Every adult will have moments in their lives where they revert back to being a child. As I sit here now, calmly typing this recent recollection, I will never forget how much of a failure I felt.
“How can I do this?”
“How could I be so crazy?”
“Why did I get on that plane?”
“Why did I even apply for this job?”
All I wanted to do was go back home in that moment.