The first thing we did this morning after showering, before we packed and before we even ate breakfast, was to finally eat the sakura manjū we bought on Miyajima in the Hello Kitty store.
I'm as tasty as four apples.
They were delicious.
Then we packed, checked out, ate toast and tea/coffee because the soup had pork again
--I don't understand how Sakura Hotel offers halal ramen and then has pork in seemingly every soup they make--and walked to the train station. On the way, I learned about this exhibition
which I'm now really sad I didn't know about a couple days ago, when we were over near Sunshine Mall and could have gone. Yōkai
are one of the parts of Japanese culture that doesn't get much play abroad, like kagura or foods that aren't sushi or ramen, and this would have been a great chance to see them. Sigh.
We stopped at Chocoholic so xoDrVenture
could get a present for her roommate and then got on the Yamanote Line heading for Tōkyō Station, where we got off, went outside the gates, got tickets for the Narita Express, went back through the gates, and waited for the train. While we were on the platform, I got one last onigiri for the road. Fatty tuna and spring onions. Then the train started moving, and I said goodbye to Tokyo.
The train ride was an hour and the only problem were two businessmen sitting ride in front of us who randomly picked seats until they found an occupied one and then loudly spent the train ride discussing business. But that was short, and then we got off the train and made for our terminal. schoolpsychnerd
had some お土産 (omiyage
, "gift souvenirs") she needed to buy, and as long as she was doing that, I picked up some for my Japanese tutor as well. I hope she likes green tea. I've met Japanese people who don't. I've also met Japanese people who don't like fish or rice, which strikes me as almost debilitating. You know, like how I'm an American who doesn't like pizza or hot dogs.
Then we went to the food court and had our last bowl of reasonably-priced ramen.
¥880. About $8.25.
We went to go check into our flight but accidentally went to the wrong wing of the terminal, and then when we did go to the right wing, found our airline, and got in line, we got an attendant who must have been new. Her English wasn't that great (and my flight-related Japanese isn't either) and had some trouble finding our reservations and boarding passes. But she did eventually find us with some help from her co-workers, print out our boarding passes, and send us on our way.
We got through security in three minutes because Japan isn't invested in stupid security theatre that just wastes everyone's time and money, went through immigration in about the same amount of time, and proceeded to the gate.
We went through the airport, stopping to say goodbye to tastee_wheat
at their gates, and then made it to our gate. schoolpsychnerd
went to buy some sakura-flavored kitkats to use up the last of our yen and we settled down to wait, along a few Buddhist monks and a giant horde of schoolgirls probably going on a school trip. No wonder the flight was full.
Fun fact: kitkats are popular in Japan partially because the name sounds like 屹度勝つ (kitto katsu
, "I will surely win").
The flight boarded slightly late and we were sitting across the aisle from each other, but as soon as we got on schoolpsychnerd
asked the man sitting in the middle seat to move to my aisle seat and he happily did so, so we got to sit together again!
We also sat next to the monks, but didn't talk with them. There was also a kid who thought having to put on his seatbelt when we hit turbulence was worse than being tortured to death and decided to shriek his head off for a while until, presumably, he tired himself out and fell asleep.
About a third of the way through the flight, I started to feel really cramped. I don't usually have problems with claustrophobia, but airlines are the exception. It wasn't until I compared seatbacks with schoolpsychnerd
that I realized the problem--the man in front of me had lowered his seat by about 15 cm and I really was
dealing with less space. So I immediately rammed my knees into the back of his seat--by which I mean "sat normally, thanks airlines!"--and was rewarded by him shifting repeatedly as I did. And eventually, after enough shoving, he moved his seat back upright. I am not above petty revenge against people being inconsiderate.
We also flew above a lightning storm, but I was not sitting by a window.
Breakfast was pretty tasty:
No pork to pick out this time either!
We landed in Toronto to the news that they didn't actually have a gate for us and we'd have to take a bus to the terminal. Then we went through customs and I was all set to get annoyed until I realized that this wasn't bullshit Canadian security theater, it was bullshit American
security theatre because we're going to America. The highlight was the customs agent saying he could tell we were married because we answered all his questions in unison.
Then we got to the gate and our flight was delayed an hour.
And then it was cancelled! So we had to go out through Canadian customs and pick up our baggage and hope we got another flight. Except our baggage wasn't showing up, and when schoolpsychnerd
went to ask about it, they told her that our flight wasn't
canceled and they were loading our luggage onto the plane, so we ran back
through US customs and back to our terminal to find our flight was delayed due to...weather.
Ah yes, weather. Oh Chicago.
Ignorant Air Canada employees aside, after a two-hour weather delay we got on the plane. Then we sat there while they loaded in some extra luggage, and while I'm normally contemptuous of people who check carry-ons on the plane, I think it makes sense in this case. Then we taxied away and sat again on the runway. Then finally, finally
, we took off at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.
Then we flew through turbulence pretty much the entire trip.
The sun and the storm.
We landed, taxied to our gate, and got our luggage in much less time than I was expecting because we went through customs in Canada. And now I'm posting this from the ride home, and unless our apartment has burned down in our absence, there's nothing further to report.
Thus ends the Japan Trip 2016. What a wonderful time! I'm so glad I got to go back and visit our old students and show all the places we came to love to our friends. The only problem is...now I want to move back.
Steps taken: 13245