Saturday, June 25, 2011

Leaving America, getting to Japan (6/20-21)

Monday morning started out busy from waking up onward. I woke up at 6 and called my friends and family. I packed up my last minute things, brushed my teeth and got on the elevator with my luggage and headed to the dormitory lobby. There all the other Japan kids brought their luggage and it got really packed quickly. Imagine 60 kids` luggage, at least one suitcase each and a carry on. We were hurried out to a bus and given a bagged breakfast which I ate during the ride to SFO. (A yoghurt, a milk carton, and a muffin) I enjoyed the scenery as we passed from Berkeley to SFO. San Fran is a beautiful city with the bay and the rolling hills. I want to go back there sometime. All 60 of us schlepped our luggage to the United Airlines check in area and checked our bags and got our tickets. After EVERYONE (all 60) checked in we proceeded to security. That also took a good half hour. Around 10:30 we all made it to our gate to board at 10:47 for our 11:32 flight. That`s close for me! We got onto the plane, it was huge! Two floors and more seats than any domestic flight I`ve been on. We buckled in and got ready for the looonngg flight(10hrs 30min). The fact that I was leaving America and spending weeks in a foreign country still hadn`t hit me. Lots of people on the flight were Japanese, but it is a flight to Japan, that`s what you`d expect. Hahaha. The old Japanese lady sitting next to me pulled out a DS and started playing it. She had to have been at least 60 years old. I don`t know why but I found that very amusing. She was very sweet. She dropped her ticket and I picked it up for her and said どうぞ(here you go). She responded with ありがとう(thanks). Then I said どう いたしまして(you`re welcome) Then she told me 日本語 じょず(skilled Japanese). She was so flattering! My Japanese is far from skilled. Japanese people are too nice.

They gave us 2 meals and a snack. The first meal we had the choice between beef brisquette, mashed potatoes and salad, or sukiyaki vegetables with pork. Almost all the Americans choose the beef, and all the Japanese people the sukiyaki.

During the flight we watched "The Adjustment Bureau" (a good movie by the way). It had Chinese subtitles though. I`m not sure why a flight to Japan had Chinese subtitles...

I slept, (uncomfortably) through most of the rest of the flight but woke up about an hour before Tokyo.

The time came when we began our descent into Japan. I was wearing a huge grin on my face that light up the face of the old Japanese lady next to me. As we touched down some YFU girls in the back of the plane screamed enthusiastically, making some people laugh, others look perplexed or annoyed. We got off the plane and walked through the runway. WE WERE IN JAPAN! I did a little dance of excitement and walked with about 5 other YFU kids to immigration where we were photographed and finger printed. I have to say that Japanese security people are a lot nicer than TSA. We then proceeded to baggage claim which proceeds customs in Japan. After we got our bags we advanced to the airport exit. There YFU Japan staff met us and directed us to a bus to our Tokyo hotel. We all gazed in awe out the windows as we drove into Tokyo. We excitedly read the hiragana& katakana signs and scowled at the kanji we could`t read. We arrived at our hotel, the Prince Hotel Shinagawa and received room keys and our room mates. I quickly put my luggage in my room and hurried downstairs to talk to the other YFUer`s. I used one of the amazing vending machines here. They`re amazing. They have such a variety and there not shabby and graffiti-ed on like the ones in Philadelphia. A Japanese lady was staring at me sceptically as I paparazzi style photographed the vending machine.

There`s vending machines for everything here. Obviously beverage machines, cigarette vending machines, umbrella vending machines, medicine vending machines.

A couple of us YFU kids went downstairs to the convenience store were we went crazy and swarmed it. Outside the convenience store we met 2 Japanese high school girls. I sort of played interpreter as we talked to them as everyone else didn`t know Japanese or was too shy to talk. There was a lot of awkward silence. We bid them goodbye and walked around the hotel shops. There was a bowling alley with purikura booths. All 8 of us stuffed into the booth an posed for the camera. (Purikura is like a Japanese take on a photo booth.) By that point we were all exhausted and our hyper-ness was wearing off. We were going on 20hrs or so without sleep. However, the night wasn`t over for us. We still had to go to our 5 course meal at the hotel restaurant YFU had arranged for us! I barely ate anything and wasn`t even hungry. We were all zombies, ready to pass out. After dinner I mustered the energy to shower and shave then collapsed in bed.

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