Step Eight: Say Sayonara to Japan , and Look Towards Future Randomness

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My final day in Japan was a long one. From the onset, I knew that I would have to catch a flight late that evening. But first there must be food and a considerable amount of walking to still be done!

Today’s “Let’s what the locals eat” experience took us to MOS Burger, where I tackled a Spicy Cheeseburger. Because I am occasionally dumb and forget that Spicy Foods and I do not always agree. But never mind that now.

I look nothing like my advertisement picture. But I am still tasty, in a "I GET EVERYWHERE!" sort of way.

I look nothing like my advertisement picture. But I am still tasty, in a “I GET EVERYWHERE!” sort of way.

Following a fortifying lunch where, once again, customer service was top-notch and beyond what I’ve experienced in many state-side establishments, we hopped the rail back to the Harajuku station. It was time to experience …. Takeshita Street!

This ever-changing entrance decoration greets you as you embark on the mind-warping journey down Takeshita Street.

This ever-changing entrance decoration greets you as you embark on the mind-warping journey down Takeshita Street.

We ventured through the crowds, a sea of people, punctuated by a few glamorous mermaids of original fashion. And while I didn’t manage to capture any good pictures of these individuals, I did manage to find some interesting shots nonetheless.

This is the entrance to Lady Gaga's personal closet. (I failed to notice the "No Pictures" sign until after the fact... Ooops!)

This is the entrance to Lady Gaga’s personal closet. (I failed to notice the “No Pictures” sign until after the fact… Ooops!)

I hate spiders, but for this, I would make an exception.

I hate spiders, but for this, I would make an exception.

When I travel, I always find it interesting to see what graffiti and the like that gets put up by the locals. Because after a while, it all starts to look the same, no matter where you are.

The real melting pot of the world.

The real melting pot of the world.

Venturing off Takashita street, we wandered up to (what I realized after the fact) Tōgō Shrine, located off of Mejii Dori. And while we did not have time to go explore, I have put it on my “Return To” list for the next time. Because I am going back. Yep. Gonna happen!

You eluded me this time... but next time.  (Although, for all I know, that red sign is saying, " closed- no entrance." So, yeah... )

You eluded me this time… but next time.
(Although, for all I know, that red sign is saying, ” closed- no entrance.” So, yeah… )

We continued down the other way on Mejii Dori, towards Shibuya Station.  From everything that I have read since the trip, it is said that what Takashita is for the more crazy fashion, Mejii Dori is for the more trendy fashion. I would have to agree – everyone was quite the fashion plate.

However, being me, I was more interested in the odd architecture and random art displays. Because that is how I roll.

I was designed this way. This crack? All me.

I was designed this way. This crack? All me.

I am attempting to be an optical illusion. You going to take the inside stairs... or the outside ones?

I am attempting to be an optical illusion. You going to take the inside stairs… or the outside ones?

After all that walking, we needed a moment to sit down and have an always convenient hot beverage.

Hi! There's a hot beverage machine right over there.

Hi! There’s a hot beverage machine right over there.

While enjoying said beverage, I heard a child yelling. I have no idea who or what she was yelling at, but I’m pretty sure that all the windows in this building were 1) really high up, and 2) closed.

Sometimes you just have to shout out and hope someone is listening.

Sometimes you just have to shout out and hope someone is listening.

No hair was let down. No keys were thrown. No acknowledgement given. But she still looked pretty proud of herself, so at least she had that going for her. Which is nice.

Finally, after much walking, Nathan announced that we had made it to our final, and pivotal, Tokyo Experience. Which I shall share with you now. It is the crosswalk outside of Shibuya Station.

What is so important or interesting about a crosswalk? Well…

Mesmerizing ... isn't it?

Mesmerizing … isn’t it?

And with that image, dear readers and spambots, we have (finally) reached the end of this epic saga. I hope you have enjoyed trailing along with me on this adventure. And now that it is done, I feel I can start posting more random amusements on this blog. Hope you will stick around!

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Step Seven: Pay-Up on Step Six’s Promise

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The beautiful thing about other cultures and other languages is that everyone sounds the same when they are on a roller coaster. The squeals of anticipation, the screams of enjoyment (or terror) the nervous laughter as you find yourself hanging upside-down, and waiting for the breaks to release and send you 90 degrees straight down.

Yes, we are all the same when we ride roller coasters.

I learned this lesson on Day 5 of my excursion into Japan. (Look – I am determined to finish this darn travel essay, so you are just going to have to bear with me, and deal with it. There will be shiny, more up to date things, once I am done here, I promise. So just shoo if you need to and come back later. )

Bright and early, Nathan and I struck out to the famed Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, because the only logical thing to do while you are in Japan is to go view Mt. Fuji from the top of one of the highest roller coasters in existence. So we ventured out from Ōme, Tokyo to Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, a little over 80km away, with a traveling breakfast, as one is supposed to in these situations.

A steamed pork bun

How do they fit so much tasty in such a small package?

How do they fit so much tasty in such a small package?

and pancake sandwiches

I am made by sandwiching syrup and butter between two pancakes. I am delicious. See how happy I make the car?

I am made by sandwiching syrup and butter between two pancakes. I am delicious. See how happy I make the car?

…perfect for making your way to a fun-filled day of “Do I really want to go on this ride?” and “ Oh god, why did I want to go on this ride?” And lastly, “ LETS GO BACK ON THAT RIDE!” Because this is how I approach all roller coasters, and important life choices in general. I became more and more excited as we got closer to our destination and I could see the great feat of nature that the park took its name from.

I am going to dominate your viewing area for the remainder of your day.

OH HAI THAR! I am going to dominate your viewing area for the remainder of your day.

At the time of year that we were currently in, there was still a think blanket of snow covering its top, and being the non-skier that I am, I imagined how fun it would be to ski down Mt. Fuji in a completely safe and not-at-all-dangerous way. Because snow.

Eventually, the ultimate FUN ZONE appeared upon the horizon.

ARE WE THERE YET!!1!!!!

ARE WE THERE YET!!1!!!!

We walked up to its gates.

An unimposing gate, for the adventure that lies within.

An unimposing gate, for the adventure that lies within.

And we faced our First Opponent.

Fear not. Just make sure you have secured all of your belongings.

Fear not. Just make sure you have secured all of your belongings.

It was wind-y  ……   It was tall.

Tall coaster is tall!

Tall coaster is tall!

First ride of the day!

First ride of the day!

This is how I gear myself up to be rapidly dropped from a great height.

This is how I gear myself up to be rapidly dropped from a great height.

It was AWESOME!

Now that we were warmed up, we decided to go for SPEED over height.

They all survived... Barely

They all survived… Barely

Unfortunately, I was far too focused on OMGFUNTIME! that I did not take as many detailed pictures. So you are stuck with words.  Words of power and awe. Words that defy description!

OK, perhaps not that last part.

So, as previously alluded to, the next big coaster we rode was Dodonpa.

It is the hot-rod of roller coasters, with its, ” Hey, Watch this!” attitude as it counts down, and then launches you through a chute at over 170km/h. Or not. Sometimes it tricks you, and makes you think that there is a problem with the launch, only to shoot you out in a surprise move of mechanical prankishness. Because it can.

Next was Takabisha.

That hump? Yeah - you pause there. At 90 degrees. Looking straight down. BEFORE THEY RELEASE YOU.

That hump? Yeah – you pause there. At 90 degrees. Looking straight down. BEFORE THEY RELEASE YOU.

I think this was my favorite of all the coasters we rode, for two reasons. 1) Because even if you know that it is going to pause you on that hump, you still find yourself yelling, ” Why?! Why must you do this?!” to the gods and roller coaster engineers alike.

Steep would be an understatement here.

Steep would be an understatement here.

And 2) because this coaster is EVEN SNEAKIER than Dodonpa. “How?” you might ask…. Simple:

Just because that rise you see coming up from the ride is the first thing you can see,does NOT mean it is the first part of the ride…. Oh No. It is not

No, the first part of the ride is in the dark. After a neck-breaking turn. Away from what you think is going to be the beginning of the ride. With many twists. THEN you get to the outside part. Thinking back on it, my first reason is probably directly caused by the second reason. I now have a third reason.

So before venturing off to the final coaster of the day, I shall share with you some other views of the rest of the park.

There were ants.

I felt like Godzilla.

I felt like Godzilla.

There were Zombies.

Nathan kept trying to convince me that I really, really wanted to go in here. I did not.

Nathan kept trying to convince me that I really, really wanted to go in here. I did not.

 There were Nekos.

It was cold, and water rides did not appeal to me at the moment.

It was cold, and water rides did not appeal to me at the moment.

And there were Angels.

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OK, now that we’ve seen the place a bit more, let’s move on the the big kahuna. The white whale. The ghost pepper hot wing challenge.

Eejanaika

This is the mother of all coasters here at Fuji-Q. This is the coaster that you seriously question your life choices before, during, and for some, after riding this marvel of mad engineering.

4-D Coaster... Closest I will probably ever get to a time machine.

4-D Coaster… Closest I will probably ever get to a time machine.

I tried to get a good picture, but the entire platform insisted on rattling the whole time.

This might have been why.

There was so much screaming.

There was so much screaming.

But we went on the ride. We survived. We did not throw-up.

I did not regret this life choice at all.

And that ended day 5. It was a wonderful way to enjoy that part of Japan, that many outside travelers do not take the time to do. If you get the opportunity, seize it.

I leave you with motivational posters. Or advertisements. Or both.

There is much delight nestled inside of this doughnut.

There is much delight nestled inside of this doughnut.

This watermelon got off easy.

This watermelon got off easy.

I never considered this application of awesome spiked watermelon power.

I never considered this application of awesome spiked watermelon power.

Step Six: Realize Your Lazy Day is Just Filler Until You Post the Next, Really Exciting (No- REALLY) Day of the Adventure

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So day four started off nice and slow, with an onigiri (or two) that I had picked up at the 7-11 the night before. (It was like I KNEW I’d be moving slowly the next morning.)2014-04-05 08.00.35

One was salmon and one was (I believe) Tobiko. As to which was which....

One was salmon and one was tobiko or masago. As to which was which….

 

I took the time to dump all of my photos from the past few days onto my laptop, and reflect back on the trip so far. Slowly, I was allowing myself to accept the fact that I was actually in Japan. Also, I was realizing that I was completely smitten with this whole country, even more so than when I first started planning this whole trip.

Nathan had set it in his mind that I could not truly experience Japan until I had sampled CoCo Ichiban. Nathan can be very correct sometimes. This was one of those times. CoCo was a wonderful experience, from the moment that we walked in the door and received international menus. Not just English menus. Not just picture menus (though there were fantastic pictures involved.) These were INTERNATIONAL menus. If I had wished to order in Portuguese, I could have. Another wonderful thing I noticed (and this is not just limited to CoCo) is how, at many of these establishments, you have the ability to choose a variety of portion sizes. And this is not just your average fast-food sizing; this is full on personal customization. You want a lot of rice? a little rice? Any of the in-between rice sizes? ALL OF THE RICE?!? You got it! The same goes for sauces and toppings.

As I was not currently conditioning for any eating challenges at the time of our visit, I chose a modest amount of rice and chicken cutlet curry.

2014-04-06 16.58.53

It might look underwhelming, but I would probably eat this every day if I could.

As we ate our ever-most-filling delight, I began to ponder where the local Japanese person might go if they were in need of new tea cups, tatami mat, lumber, art supplies, and a hamster, all while checking out a giant tortoise.

“Why, they would go to Joyful Honda!” my cousin gleefully exclaimed. And thus our next venture was secured.

So very Joyful!

So very Joyful!

So basically we explored all over this wonderful land of ALL OF THE THINGS, and I picked up a trinket or two, but I failed to take any super awesome pictures. Every so often, I like to just enjoy being in the moment rather than trying to capture the moment. I wasn’t being super lazy, I swear!

I did, however, think to capture this gem. I think all elevators should carry this, or similar adorable warnings, to keep me from getting my fingers crunched by their doors.

 

Crab will always beat scissors (though I imagine rock might beat crab)

Crab will always beat scissors (though I imagine rock might beat crab)

Step Five: Split Up a Whole Day into Two Posts and See if Anyone Notices.

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As we made our way back to Harajuko station, my cousin and I were greeted along our path by a beautiful display of luminaries and projected light.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

I am stealing this idea for my Pinterest board.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

There was a number of flower light projections all down the path.

 

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

Warning: Luminaries may be able to see into the depths of your soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of which lead us to a spectacular performance of Kabuki Theater.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Even without knowing what was going on, it was pretty cool to watch.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

Some of the traditional performers from Tōhoku region.

As we marveled at the production in front of us, wondering at what cultural heritage event we had stumbled upon, an older gentleman behind us took pity on these two clueless Americans. In halting English, and with many hand gestures, he explained that these performers were actually from Fukushima. All in all, the whole production appeared to be a very big “To Do”, with many people enjoying the rare chance to see the Meiji Shrine and its park after dark.

Oh! Candid Shot!

Oh! Candid Shot!

And why, you ask, was this entire event going on? Well, it wasn’t until after the fact that we realized we’d stumbled into the beginnings of the 100th anniversary of the Empress Shoken’s passing.

But we had made dinner plans already, and we needed to scurry on to Shinjuku and the tasty yakiniku hiding there.
As you can see, there was much tastiness to be had.

The meat- It was plentiful.

The meat- It was plentiful.

I even tried my hand at manning the grill!

Actually we did almost smoke the place out, but not while I was manning the grill.

On this edition of Cooking with Kate, there is the possibility of everything catching on fire.

Once stuffed full of tasty meaty goodness, we ventured out to find a nightcap. I now regret to say that we did not have the time or inclination to wait for a spot in the Robot Restaurant, but we can all at least sleep happier knowing that a place like this exists in the world. Instead we found a small, hole-in-the-wall cigar bar, where the main table actually wrapped around the piano, and everything was served in crystal.

That's a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

That’s a 12 year McClelland single malt there, in case anyone cares.

It was pretty fantastic.

I had spent a wonderful day, out and about, but the most surreal moment had yet to occur. As we took our train home, I experienced the crush of the late night crowd, and maneuvered my way to grab a much-coveted seat. I may have even joined my fellow commuters in fighting off the inevitable urge to doze off once sitting. Once exiting the train, I immediately found myself naturally heading up the left side of the stairs with the rest of the crowd, without even being prompted. With them, I watched in a detached state, as two inebriated salary men began shoving and punching each other on the stair landing.

I continued on my way out of the station and into the slight drizzle; a realization finally starting to bloom in the back of my mind:

“Huh. I’m in Japan.”

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.

The trains are pretty wonderful to watch.

Step Four: I Wonder if I Should Continue to Title These Posts With Progressive Step Numbers

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Once again the sun rose, as it usually does, over Ōme. Let us take a small break from my narrative to show you a quick view of the neighborhood.

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

Early Morning Tokyo Suburbia

 

Yes, the streets are about one car width wide.

Yes, the streets are about one and 1/2 car widths wide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, now that we have gotten ourselves a bit more oriented, let us continue.

Today’s first outing involved (SURPRISE!) food. (If you are not sensing a theme in these posts, then I’m guessing you have just been looking at the pictures.) We cruised on down to Sukiya for gyūdon, which is basically a beef rice bowl: Cheap, tasty, filling.

Drive By Gyūdon!

Drive By Gyūdon!

I continued to notice throughout my venture that many of the menus remind me of the back of a Waffle House menu; there are lots of colorful pictures, and all you have to do is point and smile to order.

Fortified with rice, beef, and another cup of endless tea (it’s like I’m in Japan or something, geez!) Nathan and I set off to board the Chūō line, connecting with the Yamanote line for Harajuku station. Putting the Harajuku spectacles for a later date, we ventured over to Meiji Shrine for some “culture and learning”. According to the internet, Meiji Shrine is a Shinto Shrine originally completed in the 1920’s, and reconstructed in the late 1950’s after suffering damage in WWII.

What I saw was a whole bunch of really awesome nature, some cool old buildings, and a whole bunch of people “really feeling it all.”

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

Feel the Awe and Glory and Various Other Things that this image inspires.

And a GIANT wall of sake barrels

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

I may have contemplated how long it would take a normal human being to consume all the sake that could fill these barrels.

As we wandered the paths and checked out the courtyard of the shrine, I had hoped to have the big, bubbly, excited reaction to the realization that I was ACTUALLY IN JAPAN finally kick in.

Everyone setting up for something.... Wonder what it could be?

Appears they are setting up for something…. Wonder what it could be?

So many prayers, in so many languages.

So many prayers, in so many languages.

Here I was surrounded by all of these culturally significant examples, and instead I was feeling very calm and at peace. Which looking back at it all, I WAS at a temple, so perhaps that reaction was appropriate after all.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Purification fountain, if you are into that sort of thing.

Venturing further , we came to Homotsuden, the Treasury Museum, and an open park area.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

Rounded a turn in the path, only to be greeted with this sight.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

This was the view from the other side of the bridge.

Alas, the Museum was closed

I guess I'll just have to put this on the "return trip" list.

I guess I’ll just have to put this on the “return trip” list.

So we headed back to our entrance by the Harajuku station, to our next destination (and future post), Shinjuku.

Something old and something new.

Something old and something new.

Step Three: I Make Everyone Wait Months to See What Happens Next!

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The morning of my first full day in Japan broke in a colorful display of spring. My room faced a neighbor’s vegetable garden, and I cannot think of anything nicer to wake up to than a whole bunch of growing things.

This view made it impossible not to do my yoga in the mornings

This view made it impossible not to do my yoga in the mornings

Now, admittedly, “morning” is a relative term here, as I was still adjusting to the time difference. By the time movement towards the outdoors was achieved, it was lunchtime. Lunchtime, of course, being another opportunity to eat tasty, tasty things!

Now the sushi spot that Nathan had frequented for much of his time in Japan (“Within walking distance” has many advantages) had gone the way that it appears many things do there when change is imminent: Disappears, with no warning, in the middle of the night. Because of this a substitute sushi joint had to be located… and my first battle with Japanese Automatic Doors ensued.

http://www.designsojourn.com/automatic-door/

Except the one I confronted did not have handy-dandy English

This is the height of Japanese Door technology- because not only is it a door, it is also social entertainment in a schadenfreude way. On this day it was I who provided the entertainment. As a Southern Boy, my cousin stepped back to let me go though the door first, which would have been fine if it had been in the States. But this was not the States, and this particular door did not include the English as displayed in the above picture.

So I stood there, trying to figure out how the heck I’m supposed to work this door, until a nice gentleman inside took pity on this poor American, and opened the door for me. I like to imagine that Nathan had undergone a similar experience, and was therefore helping me fully transition into the Japanese world around me, but really I think he just wanted a good chuckle.

After the customary game of charades with the staff, we found ourselves seated in a booth of the most magical land of the world: The land of conveyer belt sushi.

I figured how to work the Sushi Spaceships much quicker than I did the "automatic" door.

I figured how to work the Sushi Spaceships much quicker than I did the “automatic” door.

Now, I have been to some of the conveyer belt places back home, but I’ve found nothing on par with what they have in Japan. First off, each plate was only ¥100, which is roughly $0.98 US Dollars. Second, everything just tasted much fresher.

Intermission before grabbing more of ALL OF THE FÜDS!

Intermission before grabbing more of ALL OF THE FÜDS!

Third on my list- See that little slot at the end of the table? You put your used plates down there and it uses that to total your bill, but it is also A GAME. Every few plates, a little game animation pops up on your table’s touch screen indicating that you MIGHT win something! (Ok, admittedly, I did not actually witness anyone win anything while I was there, but I was still entertained.) And fourthly (yes, FOURTHLY) above the rotating sushi-goodness is an express conveyer belt. EXPRESS FOOD TO YOUR BOOTH! Every so often, a plate of sushi would zip past, or a covered bowl of soup would zoom overhead. And the only human interaction to speak of was with the staff up front, when you received your booth number and when you went to pay afterwards.

After a successful stuffing of the gullet with raw fish, we proceeded to Yokota Air Base in Fussa. There are two things of particular note for this base:

1- You can get a good view of Fussa from the top of the commissary

Fussa 1

Dead-Center, you can see a ferris wheel. No lie.

Fussa 2

 

 

2- They have some spectacular sakura blossoms in the spring

sakura1

You want to look at me ALL DAY LONG!

Sakura2

Come! Stroll along my flowery path!

Like, REALLY spectacular.

 

sakura3

Time has frozen, and you are OK with this fact.

 

By this time Nathan thought I had had enough Zen, and that I was ready to experience the local rail transit, Japan Railways East, so we headed on to Fussa Station.

No, Really... it TOTALLY made sense. Eventually. At some point.

No, Really… it TOTALLY made sense. Eventually. At some point.

I can only let you imagine the looks that two rather tall Caucasian redheads got as they boarded the train to Tachikawa.

Tachikawa appeared to be a small downtown, with many tall buildings, designed to sell things to tourists and locals alike.

LOFT

Artistically crooked.

Looking Up

Oh the things you can buy!

Da Citay

I didn’t actually notice the KFC when I took this.

Although they had some rather interesting methods to do so.

Umm....

Umm….

After a long first day of exploring a new land, we headed back to home. Unfortunately we were too exhausted to check out the local evening events, but it had a definite dream-like feel in the warm spring air.

Maybe next Spring

Maybe next Spring

 

 

 

Step One: I Decide to Have an Adventure

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Here's a hint regarding what this whole post (and subsequent posts) will be about. You've been warned.

Here’s a hint regarding what this whole post (and subsequent posts) will be about. You’ve been warned.

A few years ago my cousin found out he was to be stationed at the Yokota US Air Force base in Japan. His sister and I swore that we were going to take advantage of this fortuitous placement, and come visit him in Tokyo. Last year, his sister followed through on her threat, and had a wonderful time. This year, it is my turn. I decided a few months back that I needed to stop putting off this opportunity for an adventure. But telling yourself to, “step outside your comfort zone,” and actually following through with it can be a very daunting task. As luck would have it, I had already renewed my passport a while back, I had my funds in order, and my cousin was agreeable to having me come visit for a few days. I had run out of excuses. As the days counted down to my departure, the whole trip seemed rather surreal to me; was I actually getting on a series of flights by myself to a whole other country where I don’t read or speak the language? You Betcha!

While I was tempted to get these stylish American flag shades, I decided to err in a less "in your face" on my face approach.

While I was tempted to get these stylish American flag shades, I decided to err in a less “in your face” on my face approach.

One month quickly counted down to two weeks, then two days, then the night before, and suddenly Chris has dropped me off at the airport and I am boarding my first flight on my way to Japan. Everything seemed to go very smoothly for that first hop over to Dallas-Fort Worth. From check-in to gate I had no major issues, and I even had an entertaining (though not necessarily appropriate to repeat here) seatmate for the flight.

Plane #1 was rocking this in-flight entertainment dealio.

Plane #1 was rocking this in-flight entertainment dealio.

I really should have known that it was all too good to be true. As I eat my really tasty Tex-Mex late-lunch, I check to see how my connecting flight to San Francisco is doing. It is at this point that my luck seems to turn, and my first stabs of anxiety set in.

In my defense, I ordered the beer BEFORE finding out about the crazy delays that awaited me. Of course, then I was really glad I had ordered the beer.

In my defense, I ordered the beer BEFORE finding out about the crazy delays that awaited me. Of course, then I was really glad I had ordered the beer.

The flight from DFW to SFO was delayed. I knew going into this whole adventure, that I would be pushing my luck with a short (1 hour- OK, “short for me”) layover in an airport that I don’t know (and it is also pretty big), to catch the last leg of my international travel  part one- Getting There. As I watched the flight information, my hour layover gap shrank to 45minutes, and then 15 minutes… and then it became apparent that I would miss my flight all together. As I fretted over this realization to the check-in counter, they had “good news” – I would NOT be missing my flight into Japan… because it was canceled. Well, great. I had a nice big “All flights in and out of SFO have been delayed since last Saturday” wrench in my plans. (And it was a mighty big wrench. Bigger even than the really big ones that you can find at your local DIY improvement stores.) Calls were made, nails were bitten, and many a face-palm was had.

Eventually a plan was created that did not have me bouncing around to a whole bunch of other airports with further crazy delays and potential flights missed. I was lucky enough to interact with a very clever Customer Service Representative of the airline I was flying, who helped me not only avoid taking the now woefully delayed SFO flight with it’s subsequent crazy layovers and flight connections, but also managed to get me there earlier. (OK, not as early as my original cancelled flight, but still- a couple hours is something.)

As the evening rolled around, and I started to catch up with a grad school friend who lived in the in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I hadn’t seen in years, I realized that this was a pretty good detour for my adventure to have. So while I would now be arriving in Tokyo 16 hours later than my original plan, maybe I had still somehow earned some good airport karma along the route. I don’t know, but I was not going to question it.

(Disclaimer: Don’t worry! Future posts of this adventure will contain more- and much prettier- pictures. I was just not terribly photo-happy for a chunk of this beginning part… OK?)

 

(Well- Except here- Here I was a bit snap-happy. Also slap-happy.)

(Well- Except here- Here I was a bit snap-happy. Also slap-happy.)