Journals: Dillon - Japan

Dillon, outbound to Japan

I did it, I'm here! Japan better be ready for me!

So this is my first entry documenting my travels. For those of you who don’t know, I am currently doing a year long exchange through the Rotary club to Japan. I left Florida at 8 am on Saturday, August 9th. From Florida, I flew to Chicago, which I left at around 12:45 pm. During the 13 hour flight to Japan, I watched 4 movies, ate 3 meals, and wondered how I was to survive a full year in Japan.

On a side note, the flight was not as bad as people make it out to be. Sure its long, but they offer many services to pass the time and the ride was so smooth, I sometimes forgot that I was on a plane. That is, up until the landing. There was a large amount of turbulence when we landed and the only thing to compare it to would be someone turning on a blender and forgetting to put a lid on it. But it was actually kind of fun.

At about 3:00 pm, after landing in Narita, Tokyo, I went to immigration where I found out that the birthday on my VISA was wrong (it said the birth month was June instead of July) so I have go to some immigration office in the next two weeks or so to get it all sorted out. In the mean time, I was given a residence card to say that my VISA information is incorrect in case anyone asks.

After going down to baggage, I found myself a little worried because I had to switch airports, lucky most of the employees in the airport spoke English. I was directed to an area where I could buy bus tickets, and after buying one for 3,000 Yen ($30) I found out there was a bus that arrived five minutes later that was only 1,400 Yen ($14). After and hour long bus ride from Narita to Handea, I wandered around Terminal 1 for about 30 minutes only to find out that my plane leaves from Terminal 2 (ADVICE TO FUTURE EXCHANGE STUDENT: CHECK YOUR TERMINAL XD). Luckily, there was a free bus that took me to Terminal 2, which was actually only a five minute drive.

When wandering around aimlessly in the baggage check in for about 10 minutes, a baggage woman asked me if I needed help so I told her that I was looking for the check-in area for the flight to Tottori. After seeing the intensely long lines, I started to worry that I would miss the flight, but then the lady told me that this is a special flight and there was no one in line at the time. I was so overly filled with happiness that something had finally gone my way, that I almost cried tears of joy (that’s not even an exaggeration). When I got the to waiting area to board the plane, it took every fiber in my body to fight the temptation to sleep. I didn't want to sleep in fear that I might miss the flight. Once on the plane, however, it took no skill whatsoever to fall asleep. I closed my eyes as the plane took off and opened them as the plane landed.

I arrived in Tottori at about 7:30 pm. The Tottori airport was SO MUCH easier to navigate than the Tokyo airports. I just had to walk downstairs, pick up my luggage, and meet my new family, who had showed up with several other families and a few Rotarians. It was so nice to meet all of these wonderful people even though I was only running on about an hour of sleep.

The first thing we did after leaving the airport was go to a convenient store, which is far more sophisticated and cooler than the convenient stores in the United States. I got an energy drink so that I could stay up and talk to my host parents. My host father, Takashi, and host mother, Junko, seemed like very nice people. My instinct was proven correct when we got home and had dinner. It was a lovely dinner and there was no tension at all at the table, everybody was smiling and even sometimes laughing because my host parents don’t speak much English so we kind of played Charades to communicate. My host brother, who had been an exchange student last year, helped translate though, which was very helpful.

After dinner, I played piano for them and we took tons of Polaroid pictures and had a great time. My host mother even said she had a camera that she doesn't really use and she knew that I liked photography, so she gave it to me, which I was very thankful for. It is now 8:30 am, August 11th, and I awoke to an awesome view of the entire city of Kurayoshi and some of the surrounding mountains. I’m so glad I decided to become an exchange student!