(I am actually back in Costa Rica now, but will post these on the dates I wrote them. There was no way to connect to the Internet while I was in Japan. Sorry for the delay.)
I arrived in Tokyo, Japan’s Narita airport, last night about 5PM and proceeded to immigration where I went through the security checkpoint. There were lots of instructions in Japanese I would never have understood had I not been through hundreds of these baggage and personal screens for terrorists in the past: all liquids in a quart sized plastic zip-lock bag, please, shoes off, computer out of its case, place all items in a tub, and hoist it onto the conveyor belt. You know the routine. They change it slightly from time to time, I think when the TSA (Thousands Standing Around) need extra toothpaste or new perfumes.
Getting clear, I made haste to the money exchange booth and cashed in about $200 of the $300 US dollars I was carrying into Yen because I would need it when I arrived in Nagoya. Sam was busy teaching an English class and told me to buy a train ticket to Gifu where he would meet me. Having accomplished that, I still had over an hour and a half to wait for my connecting flight so I went to an Internet connect booth, and checked my email. Then I continued on down the concourse to my gate.
The first thing I noticed was a whole lobby set off from the rest of the airport with multi-level futon-like seats. people were spread eagled (sound asleep) or sitting cross legged (text messaging or reading). I sat down and placed the small of my back at theplace where the elevation change occurs on the seats and popped my aching back, working out the kinks of a 10-hour flight.
By that time we were ready to board. Once settled in my seat for a short 45 minute flight to Nagoya, I opened my purse to tuck my boarding pass into my wallet.
It wasn’t there.
Can you spell p-a-n-i-c?
I startled up from my seat and fought my way upstream against the river of traffic headed down the aisle to their seats.
First the flight attendants said they would accompany me off the plane to look for it, then they said I would have to take my carry on items off the flight and go through re-screening if I returned to the plane. The Northwest Airlines people were great, even if we did have trouble communicating with each other. They called immigration clearance even though I knew I had my wallet after that. They called “lost and found” and they hadn’t recovered anything. They also called my son in Godo to tell him I was now without money to catch the train once I arrived at Nagoya.
The littlest of the ticket agents kept asking me: “Are you going to re-board the plane?”
“How do I know. If I don’t have any money, it’s going to be hard to do anything once I arrive in Nagoya.”
“Well this airport closes for the night. You can’t stay here.” I could see myself, like the guy in the French airport who lived there in limbo for years waiting for immigration issues to be resolved.
I was about to re-board when their phone rang.
Lost and found had my wallet. Someone had turned it in. We waited, for what seemed like hours, for the wallet to arrive. When it did, all money and credit cards were present and accounted for. One of the flight attendants said: “It had to have been a Japanese person who found it or you would have been striped bare.
It was quite the entry into the country and me, the seasoned traveler.
I love Japan!
I was met at the train station by a welcoming party: my son, Sam; his wife, Yuka, and their very charming daughter, Hannah–the (real) reason for my visit. No bones about it- she’s a cutie. And she was wide awake and cheerful at 10 PM.
Home in their cozy apartment– a nine tatami mat space that is barely as big as a small hotel room– I settled in on the floor of the living room on a comfortable futon and passed out for the night.
Quite the entry into Japan.