Friday, September 02, 2005

Day One in Japan

Alrighty. First, there was a long day of air traveling (leaving Mpls at 6am, flying to O'Hare, then to Tokyo/Narita). I arrived in Tokyo at 2pm, which is, uh, midnight I think, Mpls time. Then, I caught a train from the airport to downtown Tokyo, about 1 hour ride. Getting the train at the airport was pretty simple - the lady in the Japan rail office just pointed which way to go and it was really straightforward. Transferring trains in downtown Tokyo was significantly more complicated. It was a very busy, very big station which conducted itself (of course) in Japanese. I had about 20 minutes until my train arrived. In that time I had to buy a phone card, call James to tell him when to pick me up at the Nagoya station, and find my train. I got the card okay, then tried to call James but he did not answer (I later found out he was on a subway at the time). Anyway, I start looking for my train, and get thoroughly confused. I eventually ask a guy for help (by which I mean I look at him pleadingly with my eyes, point to my ticket and say "Nagoya"). He looks at the ticket and starts speaking really quickly and with great panic. He starts running and pointing wildly down a hallway toward another section of the station. I am able to gather that I am about to miss my train. I thank him and take off. I get to the train just in time, find my seat, and settle in for the 1-1/2 hour train ride to Nagoya.

That ride goes very calmly. I start to think I have everything under control. We arrive at the Nagoya station and I find a payphone to call James. He tells me which entrance to meet him, and I head in that direction. The exit to the subway includes these turnstiles. I'm slightly confused, but watch other people go through, and there seem to be arrows directing which way you can go through them. So, I start walking through one. And then I'm stuck. Me, my backpack, and my suitcase. Stuck. I begin to get worried. There are people behind me. I yank on my suitcase, trying to push it through. No luck.

And then I hear an oh-so-familiar voice.

"Tori, you have to put your ticket in the machine to open the gate."

I look up and who should I see but one of my oldest and dearest friends. And he is fluent in Japanese. He begins explaining the situation to the guard who has come over. Everything is worked out, and I escape the turnstile.

After that dramatic entrance, James and I go into Nagoya and have some dinner, go up to the top of the Nagoya tower and see a great view of the city (I forgot to take pictures). Then it is back to his apartment and out for a night of karaoke - he insisted that I stay up late to counteract the jetlag. I didn't argue.

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