Ok so it’s been about a week now since I came to Japan and things have finally settled out so I have some time to write this :) Let’s begin:
Stepping onto the ANA plane there was an immediate sense that we were somewhere else. The flight attendants were extremely friendly, the plane was exceptionally clean, and the entire plane (which was friggin huge) was hi-tech like none other:
Tons of storage space and every seat had its own mini TV (naturally a touch screen) complete with a pull out remote and usb insert (for viewing pics, files and such). The TV also came equipped with movies, music, games, shopping, kids channel, and interactive maps to track the flight. Basically any attempt to distract you for the….13 hour flight…..
Let’s just go ahead and skip those 13 hours from hell.
Never before have I been so glad to see a tv screen finally shut off.
The humidity this time of year kicked up some serious cloud cover but once we broke through we got the perfect welcome setting: endless fields of rice.
Not the plane we were in but the same model. (ps This was taken from the hallway from Hell. The minute you step off the plane into the bridge the humidity hits you and it is atrocious. I made the mistake of wearing long pants and a light jacket and it almost killed me. The airport offers health services immediately after landing for good reason.)
Yay!!!! In English, Japanese, and Korean. Followed shortly by immigration peoples who can’t speak anything but Japanese, the painful irony. Luckily they didn’t actually say much because after 13hrs the last thing my brain could handle was translating (the migrain didn’t help much either).
Waiting for stuffs. It was nice of the airport to have a free cart service otherwise I would have looked like a total idiot. Followed shortly by customs check.
Soon after landing we head down to the appointed meeting place (which was literally a giant sign that said “Meeting Place”) to meet up with the program director Matt Lindley who was helping all incoming JSP students ship out their big bags directly to their homestay (so we wouldn’t have to lug them around for the next 3 days) and showing how to buy bus tickets to Kawagoe. Buses ran ever hour so there was about 30 min of waiting time in which we got to meet some other JSP students (a few were returning after their Spring semester on JSP was cut short because of the earthquake).
*sigh* 2 hr bus ride to 川越 (Kawagoe) from the airport, even more time to kill. Somehow I actually ended up sleeping throughout the entire ride and missed out on taking pics except for this one (I had only gotten an hour or 2 or sleep on the flight, not a happy camper).
Standing in front of 川越駅 (Kawagoe Eki/Kawagoe Station). We ended up waiting for the bus after ours to arrive (along with the PAs (peer assistants)) before heading to the hotel.
FINALLY!!!!!! Checked into the hotel and got my room all nice and set up. Hotels in Japan are usually extremely minimalistic and a single room only comes with a bed, tiny bathroom, desk, tv, and chair (and a few anemities like hair dryer, coffee pot with coffee, and….tea. It’s Japan, expect tea everywhere you go).
Super tight fit. This bathroom is standard for a Japanese hotel but it’s still really high tech and far different from anything you would find in America. You step up into the room, which is completely waterproof, and shower right in the center (the drain is the small space under the sink) before hoping into the bath. The water is shared between the sink and shower so as not to waste. I’ll explain more about the お風呂 (ofuro/bath) later as it is a big part of everyday Japanese living.
As for now though I’m going to go pass out (much like I did shortly after this pic was taken). Only way to get a college student to go to bed at 7 PM: keep her traveling for 24 hours.