Today we basically stay home doing nothing. I write some of these stories and later in the day we visit my father-in-law in the hospital. He will have some more tests because he is suffering from nausea after the surgery. And will be in the hospital at least a few more days. I am sure he would really like to go home. He must be worried about the company too, as he basically worked 7 days a week. We stay only a short while as that is all the kids can handle. So I will write a little more about everyday things in Japan in the rest of this post.
Today we go to Ebina city to meet with a friend of my wife’s. She has not seen her since highschool. I am not sure how they got in contact, but she has a baby about the same age as my daughter. So we go to Ebina station, where there is also a shopping area. In Japan most if not all train stations have major shopping areas around them. It is hot and humid in Japan this time of year and fairly uncomfortable to be outside. The mall is crowded and the original restaurant/cafe they planned top meet at is packed. So we find an outdoor place which would be nice but it is hot and humid. We haven’t eaten lunch so we order from the 4 items on the menu. It was not bad but quiet expensive and they had no cola, so I had a bitter ice coffee which I could not make any better by adding sugar.
After checking out of the hotel, we grab a quick lunch from a combini… convinience store which are just about everywhere in Japan. There is of course 7-eleven, but there are others I have only seen in Japan… Family Mart, Lawson’s, Sunkus, Star-heart-Circle (that’s the picture on their sign), Ministop and there is a new one since my last visit called Shop 99+. The convenience stores are not much liked by Japanese, but they are so convenient, that many people use them. The prices are high, and the food is not the freshest, but still better than airline food. And when I say they are everywhere, I mean everywhere. You can find a combini every other block in most populated areas. And even in the rural areas, there will be at least two or three combini every 2km or so.
The flight to Japan went well for me and so we disembark from the plane. On previous trips we got off the plane onto the tarmack, but this time we are at the gate and so it is just a short walk to the immigration line. Which then takes 45 minutes to wait through. Finally my turn comes and it is a few anxious moments for the officer checking the database and my passport is stamped and I am out. Then on to pick up baggage. Narita airport has free carts to use, so if you have much luggage you can grab one of those and head to the claim area. Signs are big and clear and it is open, much easier to navigate than O’hare in Chicago. By the time I get to the claim area all the luggage is off of the converyor and sitting on the floor. Being as far back on the plane as I was, I am one of the last to make it through. It is frustrating, but I only have one bag and then it is off to customs, which is just at the edge of the claim area. Nothing to declare and so it is only a short moment and I am through. The exit is right there and I see my family almost right away.
My family and I had planned to go to Japan this August, but the plans were changed when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. When my wife found out from her sister, she learned that the doctor’s felt that it might be in advanced stages. So she decided to go to Japan a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, I could not just leave due to the responsibilities and tasks I had to care for at work… so she left with the kids and I was left alone. But her Dad really needed her as the family business is demanding all of her mother’s and brother’s time and her sister works full-time and also does not live nearby.