Ok, so… I’m not quite in Osaka. I’ve landed in a funny little place called Rinku Town, just across the bridge from Kansai International, a ways south from the city. It has been a strange trip so far, but I guess you could argue, no international trips are going to be exactly normal…
24 hours earlier. NYC, USA.
I’ve said farewell to my awesome parents, I’ve gotten through security, I’ve waited for over two hours, and I am finally walking down the ramp to board this monstrous jet plane! When I find my spot, 27c, a nice aisle seat, I load up my carry-ons into the stow-away compartment, take my seat, and prepare myself for the 13.25 hour plane trip up over the north pole. Then suddenly, I get approached by a chinese couple connecting to Taipei. The woman has the middle seat in my spot and the husband begins, in very broken english, to ask me if he can switch with me so that he and his wife can be together. Me, being the nice, travel-naive person that I was, I give a reluctant “OK.” Little did I know, my new seat was to become 48f, a location in the middle of the middle, next to an oversized Chinese neighbor and in front of a cranky elderly woman, who insisted that I keep my seat in the upright position the entire trip.
Needless to say, the flight could have been a tad bit more pleasant. But despite my careless mistake, the airline staff, food, and service left little to be desired. Wonderful flight attendants, two warm meals, with beer, and a great selection of personal in-flight movies.
Finally, we touch down in Japan. With just two short naps in a non-reclined airplane seat over the course of what would’ve been my night’s sleep, I was tired. The local time was 20:00. This is where the strange part kicks in. It was night when I left, and it was night when I arrived only 13 hours later (the next day however), but my body didn’t know that. All in all, I felt like I had accomplished some sort of time travel warping move and gotten half-way around the globe in no time at all, because after so long in a single monotonous place (the plane) time seems to lose its meaning. My body has forgotten the plane ride as well. Fortunately though, because once I got through Japanese customs, found the appropriate shuttle bus, checked into my hotel room, and laid down in my bed, I was finally ready to sleep.
4 hours ago. Rinku Town, Osaka, Japan.
As I begin to notice the slowly growing amount of light pushing its way past my hotel room curtains, I decide to get up and out of bed to witness my first Japanese sunrise (unfortunately, its quite the overcast day). Despite the dreadfully early local time of day (05:30), I was wide awake and ready to go. Its not like my body knew what time it was then, it just got warped. So anyway, I decide to go for a run to check out my new surroundings. Time to test out my Japanese! I go to the front desk and ask, “Jyogingu (jogging) wo shimsu. Dochira wa ichi ban ii desuka?” I’m going jogging. Which way is best? He then pointed to a map, said a few words, pointed in a direction, and I was off. It was a pleasant run. I found my way to a 7/11 (laughs), so I went inside and purchased an Ion Supply Drink called “POCARI SWEAT” for only 127 JPY (Japanese Yen). With that in my hand, I take a turn off of the main roads and find myself in the alleyway you see above. With heavy ceramic roofing tiles, the heavy smells of foreign breakfast foods, the wooden gates, and foreign characters all around, I finally began to feel the sensation that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
After making my way in a large circle I found myself somewhere back in the vicinity of my hotel. Thinking that I would do a little investigation into how I was going to get to Takamatsu today, I stop in the Rinku Town Train Station to see if there is a good way to get there by train. Unfortunately however, I could do little to get the densha otoko (train man) to understand me, so I move on, because I was hot, sweaty, and starving. One more stop before I showered, dressed and ate – the front desk again. He turned out to be much more helpful. I will be taking the 10:35 shuttle bus back to the airport and then the 11:35 bus to Yumetown, Takamatsu. Great!
By 14:57 today, I will be united with my host family, the Oki’s, and I will be introduced to my city, Takamatsu. It is 9:45 now, so I better wrap up my gifts and pack up my room. It is almost time to travel again. Sayonara!