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.
I have been to Japan several times now. Each trip has been enjoyable and thought provoking. Being married to a Japanese means that I do not see just the tourist areas, but instead have had the opportunity to see daily Japanese life. First, I love japanese food (that is an understatement), so that makes staying there quite easy. Second, well I mentioned it already, I am married to a Japanese.
I will post some of my journals from the trips over the past year at some point soon. Actually, that is another reason why I started to put this site together. The main banner for this site (the standard design) is from a shot I took from Fujisawa city where my inlaws live. It was during December 2003. I don’t speak Japanese yet, but am planning on learning (well, I have been studying on my own, but it is slow going, until I finish my grad degree). At any rate, I mentioned in conversation with my wife’s family, that I was going out to take a picture of Mt Fuji from the roof of their apartment (which my wife translated) and her dad laughed because he did not think I would get much. I went up on the roof of the apartment and could see Fuji-san quite clearly and took some good shots. As I said above, I will post more pics and text when I have time.
This is the start of a trip that we took in December/January of 2003/2004. Coming from Chicago to Narita does induce jet lag, which the first trip I made to Japan caused me to be sick for a week. Now after half a dozen trips, I am able to adjust after a few days. I found that if I can sleep most of the flight, that it takes less than a day to adjust. Having a toddler prevents that from happening on this trip. The flight crosses the international date line, so tomorrow is now today. That is, Chicago is still on yesterday’s date. It is kind of fun to juxtapose the thought of this small sliver of time travel that we may experience on earth.