Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Japan: Day One...ish.
In no way shape or form am I putting these ramblings on here as an act of literary accomplishment. Quite the contrary I am a little embarrassed at how unedited these are going to be, but with the rate today went and how quickly everything seemed to just slip through my fingers, I figured it would be a good thing to try to at least remember the days events. Then perhaps at a later date I can go back from there and use those as landmarks to help remind me of all the other things along the way.
We left the house and got to the airport and on our plane with no hiccups along the way. While we sat waiting to board with talked with a grandmother and her granddaughter who were also headed to Japan for the first time. The Grandmother was lovely, she was from Ireland and said that she remembered when she was 5 years old pressing her face up against the car window out over a distant land her family traveled to and thinking "wow, you can do this? you mean there is more out there than just my house?" She lived to travel she said. Ilaughed to myself because I think just now at my age I am beginning to realize what she did at 5. Both my dad and I agreed that she reminded us a lot of Grammy-the same sparkle in her eye, the same itch to travel and do fun things, especially if those fun things involve grand children.
The flight itself was not awful. 13 hours in one spot rarely is wonderful. But the ANA airlines were fantastic. Such hospitality already was seen and that was just on the plane ride there. The flight attendants did things like held babies for people while they used the rest room, made you green tea on a moments notice without hesitation, and even all wrote me a card which they signed, welcoming me to Japan for the first time.
I also watched a lot of documentaries. I now feel as though I could be a prolific lantern maker, Ramen noodle restaurant operator, and also make flower arrangements that are ahead of my time using elements that few have used before.
When we landed it was so foggy and rainy that it was difficult to really see anything. Japan has always been shrouded in some kind of mystery to me and so it actually seemed very appropriate coming into a sea of fog. (That and there was also the mental fog that has come along with the jet lag that is interesting as well.)
From our terminal we rushed to customs and baggage claim so we could make the earlier train time to Karuizawa. Two Japanese ladies at the train station spoke in great length with my dad about (from what I could make out anyways) how he is taking all 3 daughters on separate trips over the course of 3 years and then is going to take my mother for the final trip to tour all the places we've been. They ooh'ed and ahhed and said additional things while laughing. Of course the conversation was lost on me but it was neat just to listen to my father and watch him in an element unlike anything I have ever seen him in.
The only thing I have been able to master thus far as far as language is Domo. And the bow. But I have this slight feeling that I am overusing both of them. It's simply because I have nothing other that I am able to communicate with to anyone, so if I leave anyones presence at all I just want them to know that at least this frizzy haired American knew her thank you's and knew how to show some respect darn it all.
As the connecting shuttle to Tokyo pulled into the station I watched one of the ladies who cleans the cars bow at the passengers as the train approached. It was incredible to think that here there are people who clean the equivalent of our subway cars back at home, and yet they do it in such a way that you would think they find it the most rewarding job in the world. I figured if they can treat people with that much respect that they encounter coming on and off the subway, then how much more should I be respectful of those I work with and those that I see come in the door. Side thought.
As we pulled out of the underground station and headed to Tokyo, the picture window next to me changed scenery and we were in daylight. Green everywhere. And not just the typical forest green that I am used to, but almost an electric color...that lit up the whole landscape. Here I had thought I would use this hour to catch up on some sleep, but the entire ride I sat mesmerized. There is no point of reference to really compare it to. Just that it was a wonderful first impression of Japan with its' rice fields and bamboo forests and old men standing out over their land, and women in their gardens, and clothes on the lines everywhere you looked, and rivers and downtown city life put any other city life to shame.
Both trains were quite the experience but the bullet train was super cool. (yeah, I"m pretty descriptive and poetic and stuff after 24 hours no sleep). It goes up to 160 miles per hour and because we got reserved seats that had all the leg room in the world, I slept like a baby for...a a good 24 minutes.
Once in Tokyo we took our connecting train and made it to the village of Karuizawa. When we got off at our platform the air was perfect and the town still and quiet like something out of a wonderful story. Little restaurants here and there lit up, but for the most part this town met us with just the kind of welcome we needed. One soft and cool and not too loud for our sleep deprived minds.
Because I had been staring at soups during my documentary stint on the flight, we decided to try out a local spot and had the most satisfying dinner of my life. we were served a giant bowl REAL Ramen noodles in a savory broth with bean sprouts and other vegetables. Then we walked back to our amazing rooms for the night. The inn is lit by lanterns in the middle of Karuizawa, you could see it's glow from a block down the way.
The hosts are fantastic, from greeting us at the door with slippers and asking us all about our trip, to making sure we all the accommodations in our room that we could ever need. Green tea, some beds, and a shower. As I sit and write this shoddy excuse of a days events, both my Dad and I are sitting with windows open and the breeze coming through. We were listening to some Classical Japanese music, but after about 10 minutes of that we switched over to Elton John.
If that doesn't say "The Americans are Here" I don't know what does.
Thats right. THis american is here, and she is so so grateful.
...and SO going to bed.
Posted by Jekisa Jean at 6:29 AM