Showing posts with label Haneda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Haneda. Show all posts

Monday, 16 April 2018

16 - Going Home

(Day 16 Tuesday 10th April)

Well, here we are at Haneda airport international terminal at 5:50am, and my son and I both agree we are looking forward to going home to our nice warm beds as these early mornings (two of which) were killing us.

a large Gundam in the airport

Well, it's been a whirlwind tour! I think we could have done with a day of just chilling in the hotel to recharge our batteries, but it was really good to catch up with old friends and we can always sleep on the plane home.

The early morning sun-drenched ceiling of Haneda Airport
Thanks to everyone who took time out of their busy lives to see us, and also thanks to those who joined us on the journey via this blog. 

Joking and amusing cultural observations aside, I do love this country and have absolute respect for the customs and traditions here. As with any difference in language and culture, friendly misunderstandings can easily arise, but rather than ignore them and brush them under the carpet it seems to me to be better for everyone to acknowledge them, share a smile with another human being, and get on with our lives.

I can't help finding it fascinating how different peoples communicate, with each other and themselves. For example the Japanese expression kouin yanogotoshi 'Time flies like an arrow', which seems very appropriate for this trip. 

Why do they say like an arrow and not like a bird, or a rocket? It must be because in the days of old when people had more time on their hands to sit around and make up proverbs, they didn't have rockets. And birds don't usually fly in a straight line, fast and dangerous with often death on the end like an arrow. Birds flap hither and thither. Arrows can neither stop nor turn in mid air. After it leaves the bow there's no turning back. It doesn't flutter by like a butterfly. It doesn't fly like an OK computer. There's no delete or undo button in real life. But there is time to regret once the arrow is set on its course. A feeling that - ah - it wasn't quite on target, or it was just a little too late or early.

Time does not fly like a crow or a stone's throw. It doesn't plummet like a lead balloon. Nor does it tumble, ooze, stride, whisk or frolic. It flies fast and straight and true, inexorably towards its target, whether intended or not, where it will hit, with a thud, a dull impact, a final note of terminality. Most arrows are designed to only be used once. And as with a bow when an arrow leaves its string, time has vibrations, waves; there is a twang, a woosh, a thud. 

An arrow's speed is restricted by air resistance, as are we, if we fall, at terminal velocity, towards our final destination. Life from an arrow's viewpoint is a blur, a mere instant of hurried activity on a predestined journey from A to B.

No turning back. Let's make the most of it.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

15 - Haneda & Forgetfulness 2

Day 15 - Monday- Haneda

Last night after my kid had nodded off, and painfully aware I hadn't had any exercise for some time, I went out for a walk-run around my old neighbourhood. (A walk-run is ideal for someone who is out of shape who wants to try to get back into shape. It's simple - you walk for a while to warm up, then you run for a while until you're tired, then you walk until you get your breath back, then repeat. It's basically half-assed running for unfit lazy people like myself.) 

Slept quite well last night despite waking up dehydrated, but a carton of fruit juice in the fridge soon put an end to that. I went out for my morning walk to the supermarket to buy some much needed fruit and vegetables only to discover that it wouldn't open for another hour. So I fell back on plan B and returned to the hotel for some writing.

Recommended non-sleepy Hay Fever medicine
I tell you it's not been easy typing on my MacBook. The 'O' key doesn't work, so I'm forced to open the keyboard viewer and click on the 'O' every time the autocorrect doesn't figure out properly what I mean. Halfway through this trip though I realised that I could type up the text of each blog entry on my phone using this iPhone 'Write' app and then copy and paste it into the browser, which has made things a hundred times easier. In its own way this has been good writing training, as it's a bit like running with a tyre tied by a piece of rope to your waist. You never realise how many damn words there are with 'O' in them until your 'O' key stops working. Janet Jackson was right.

I'll miss these breakfasts
We had to check out of the Toyoko Inn this morning at 10am, which I think we were all a bit loathe to do, but the next leg of the trip was waiting for us at Haneda. We pulled our luggage down the street to the Machida Bus Centre and bought three tickets on the airport bus to Haneda Airport, despite leaving not today but tomorrow. When we were booking hotels etc online it just seemed to make sense to stay the night before leaving at a hotel near the airport. So we rewarded ourselves with some donuts from Crusty Kreme and hopped aboard. The journey only took about 45 minutes and before we new it we were standing inside the doors of Haneda Airport feeling quite pleased with ourselves. That's when I noticed  there was a weight off my shoulders. Oh no, not again. Yes, again. I'd left my black laptop bag on the overhead shelf on the bus. Fortunately two things - one, this time I had my passport, wallet and phone in my waist pouch, and two- we're not leaving today.

After a moment's self-beratement, I won't lie to you, I handed my phone to my wife and said, please sort this out. And like a boss she called Machida Bus Centre, who gave her the number for the bus central office (AKA the Idiot Gaijin Hotline) to whom she explained the situation. They then radioed the bus driver and got him to make a U- turn somewhere and come right back to the airport. But he wasn't happy about it. Ten minutes later he'd brought my bag back and to say thank you my wife wanted to give him a small tub of potato snacks (Jagariko) in gratitude, but understandably he refused. We should have offered him our third and final donut instead.

After a nice lunch in the airport watching the planes, we boarded the bus to nearby Anamori Inari station and checked in to the rather classy MyStays hotel which sported shoebox- like rooms and an even narrower double bed than the first Toyoko Inn.

Despite there being one in the foyer of the hotel, we went out for a walk around to try to find a restaurant, but failing to do so returned to the hotel only to find a notice at the door of the restaurant saying they were fully booked between 5pm and 8pm for this two weeks. It was 6:45pm. I looked in and saw that the place had tonnes of free tables. Hmm, I thought. Have you guys been reading my blog?

So there was nothing else for it but to go back to the supermarket and buy some provisions there to take back to our room. All was looking good until I ate my son's umeboshi onigiri (sour plum rice ball) by mistake, which he was understandably upset about. 

Dango Unchained
What - on earth - is the matter with me? What is happening to my cognitive processes? When I got off the bus, what was I thinking? I was thinking, "Son, check, waist pouch with passports and wallet, check, wife, check, donut, check, ahh, how nice it is to be back in Haneda again, that bus driver drove well.' I did not think: 'now, have I got everything?' And nobody told me to think that, and even if they had I probably would have brushed it off as an inconsequential question. Of course I have! Of course I have you fool! I'm a grown adult who has been to Japan umpteen times! I have my wife, my kid, my waist pouch, even my donut!' I just didn't process the information. Sheer sloth-headed laziness 

What was I thinking when I ate my son's umeboshi onigiri? I overheard him choosing it in the supermarket. The information was there. But when we got home I just sat down and began digging into all the onigiri in the bag, not even reading the labels because nine times out of ten I never could anyway, and 'aah, it's nice to be back in the hotel,' and 'mmm, this is a particularly tasty one.' That's when my son somehow twigged and the shirt hit the fan.

Again, I had all the details, I just didn't even question the situation. Is it because I'm on holiday? Is it because I'm in writing mode? Perhaps it's from drinking too much, or having to listen to my kid's constant chattering, or having been married for nine years. Who knows. But one thing's for sure- if I'm like this now, what am I going to be like when I'm seventy?

Tomorrow we have to wake up at 4:30am, be downstairs for 5:30am, and get the shuttle bus to the airport (7mins), and I have to go to bed sober and do my best to get a decent night's sleep on the edge of a cliff.

Read Day 16.