It has been a long first week in Japan so I will start my blog with a detailed narrative of my journey.
I left home at 5am for a flight from JFK to LAX which was uneventful until I departed from LAX to Japan. I met a guy on the plane named King who told me about his mixed heritage and relationship with Asia as a merchant sailor until we landed. What stuck out the most was his experience in the Philippines and how he works in the US and goes back to the Philippines four times a year.
As my plane landed in Narita airport, I was surprised by the rural landscape surrounding it. Funny enough, I told myself, “I do not believe I will be in Japan until the plane lands, and I step outside.” However, as I stepped outside, I was unable to grasp the reality of my arrival due to the following border procedures I had to undergo. I went through quarantine, customs declaration, got my residence card, got a sim, and exchanged my dollars. It could be the fact that I was tired that I did not realize I arrived in Japan since I was in an airport setting for 24 hours. Finally, I had to find a place to stay.
I stayed at the 9h Capsule Hotel, a small hotel of sleeping pods. It was conveniently located in the airport and cheap…or at least I think it was since I was too tired to look at the price. After paying, I was given a designated key, slippers, towels, and sleeping clothes. Entering the hotel, I changed into slippers and entered the locker room where I promptly stored my baggage and grabbed some clothes followed by a shower and some sleep.
I tried falling asleep but was unable due to travelers’ anxiety. Thankfully, I learned how to deal with it through breathing techniques, being physically active, and talking to friends. I went for a walk around Narita airport and its surrounding streets. It was then that it hit me that I was in Japan and the first time I saw nightfall in 24 hours. I also had a phone call with my friend who is in Japan as well through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) so I can feel at ease. We talked about our first impressions of Japan. What surprised us the most was the vending machine industry and transportation of Japan. It felt as if every corner and turn had a vending machine; I bought a Kirin Ichiban Apple Tea drink to soothe my stomach and nerves (would recommend). According to my friend, Japan’s transportation is one of the most punctual in the world. After taking a couple myself, I wonder why the transportation in NYC is less efficient compared to Japan. Did something in Japan’s development result in a need to have punctual and reliable trains and buses?
After that long day, I checked out the next morning and worked my way through the trains to my dorm to begin my journey.