Japan Trip 2002

Preparation (01/16-3/15)
Day01 (03/16-17) Going back to Nagoya
Day02 (03/18)  Meeting with my grandma   
Day03 (03/19)  Meeting with friends from High School
Day04 (03/20)  Hiroshima Trip
Day05 (03/21)  Meeting with friends from Junior High 
Day06 (03/22)  Nagoya Airport
Day07 (03/23)  Nagoya Twin-Tower Tour
Day08 (03/24)  Back to the U.S.

Preparation: 01/16/2002 - 03/15/2002

January 16th I bought tickets for a round trip. Unfortunately, I cannot go home directly so I need to go to Tokyo, then take bus or bullet train to go home... The price for the trip is $580-
January 21st The flight schedule from Dallas to Wichita has changed. The 5:00pm flight is now 7:00pm flight...
February 12th

My brother sent me a train ticket from Tokyo to Nagoya. I can go home with a bullet train without worry now. Thanks Bro!

A train ticket form Tokyo to Nagoya...

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Day01: 03/16/2002 - 03/17/2002

From To Departure Arrival Time Carrier Cost Distance
Wichita Dallas Ft. Worth 08:43(CST) 10:05(CST) 1:22 American Airlines Flight1343 (Fokker 100 Jet) 331 miles
Dallas Ft. Worth Narita 11:10(3/16) (CST) 15:35(3/17) (JST) 13:25 American Airlines Flight0061 (Boeing 777) 6437 miles
Narita Tokyo 16:14 17:18 1:04 JR East Narita Express28 2770Yen 49 miles
Tokyo Nagoya 17:41 19:29 1:48 JR Central Hikari 167 227miles
Nagoya Hoshigaoka 19:35 20:00 0:25 Nagoya City Subway System (Higashiyama Line) 260Yen
Hoshigaoka Home 20:08 20:30 0:22 Nagoya City Transit Bus 200Yen 1.5miles?

Since the flight leaves Wichita so early in the morning, I stayed at my friend's house which is in west side of Wichita, closer to the airport. The trip home was not easy, I got to the airport almost three hours before the flight, but the check-in counter did not open until 8:30am, so I ended up lining on the long line. Also, my baggage was searched many times, and also my body too. The guy who inspected my baggage tried to confiscate a bottle of bourbon whisky, he thinks 45% alcohol liquor is flammable and can cause threat to aircraft. What a stupid idea!? I do not think using people with such intelligence can make any difference fighting against terrorism. The government must have picked the wrong company. I would rather be scared of those MPs with M4.

The flight to Dallas Fort Worth left Wichita on time, it took off to the north, then flew around Wichita so I could see the Raytheon Aircraft plant beneath of me. It arrived to DFW on time, also. I am glad they are doing good jobs these days. However, I had only 40 minutes to the next flight, the terminal was the same so I did not have to run, but still short on time. I just exchanged $160 to Japanese currency, and bought a bottle of water before getting into the airplane. The flight to Tokyo also left DFW right on time. The B777 was very nice plane, but I was sitting on the 43rd row, which is the last one and the spacing is tighter than other rows. Even the American Airlines has a larger leg rooms, still too small for me. They should know that I am an oversized Japanese. The guy in next seat was also a Japanese. I did not talk to him and I spoke in English when I had to speak something. That guy drinks alcohol on the plane all the time, I bet he drunk about three cans of beers and two bottles of strong one, and a bottle of wine. I only drunk water and orange juice!

Flying over Nebraska, no mountains, just farmlands...

I got pretty much nothing to do in a plane, so I am a photographer...

A view of Alaska mountains. Looks pretty cool!

American Airlines flight 0061 at Narita International Airport

The flight to Japan was smooth, there weren't any notable turbulences. The plane has only two engines, so it had to fly close to the land. I could not take picture of Anchorage because it was cloudy, but I could see the Alaska mountains. Almost entire Japan was covered by could, so I did not see the land until few hours before the landing. At Narita Airport, the wind was pretty gusty, but they landed the plane fine. I am back in Japan! After I went through the immigration, I picked up my baggage, I was not really questioned at the custom, but they thought I was working for a company so the guy  kept asking me the name of the company.... Hey, I am still a student, okay? (Actually age like me coming back from the U.S. will be considered as folks carrying drugs.)

There are many ways out of the airport. I can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Tokyo, but This Narita Express is a fairly fast way to get to Tokyo. After leaving the airport, this goes straight to Tokyo, so it takes about only one hour.

I think I was quite lucky enough to have transportations available one to another all the way. Right after I exited the airport, I got on the Narita Express 28, which was just 10 minutes before the departure. After I got to Tokyo, I helped a couple of Americans who could not find their ways... Anyway, I was able to get on Hikari 167, which was almost getting ready to leave in few minutes.

Hikari 167 arrived at Nagoya Station

I could not buy anything at the train station since I did not have much time before getting into the train to Nagoya. I had to use the dining service of the train. I got six tiny sandwiches for 700 Yen (or $6.00), I bet I can get a bigger one with drink for the same price if I go to the Cinnamon's Deli... In the train, I finally feel like I am in Japan, I see many people sleeping in the car. Anyhow, train arrived to Nagoya on time, it was passed 19:00, so it was dark outside. Since I was not so tired, I decided to go home by using public transportations rather than using a taxi. I could use a taxi but cost me about 7000 Yen, and if I use a subway and a bus to get home, it is going to be just about 500 Yen. The bad thing about Japan is there are still many places don't comply with the ADA like standard. Imagine carrying 60 lb. suitcase up three stories high by the stairs! I survived all of these obstacles and got onto the bus. I got off at my usual bus stop, I came home. It is very nice to be at home! I met with all of my family members, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and my older brother!

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Day02: 03/18/2002

The first thing in the morning I did was wiring money to my bank account in the U.S. since I almost used up my money to buy gifts, and I also re-activated my Japanese cell phone. I went to visit my grandmother in the afternoon. She lives near Meitetsu (name of a train company) Narumi station, but my mom had to take me there (if I was asked to go by myself, I probably won't remember the way, though...). I met with my aunt and uncle, but my cousins were not there. They both have jobs now. I am the only student...

This is a typical local train. The Meitetsu uses red as its color

In the evening, I also went to Sakae. Sakae is a kind of downtown area of Nagoya, and has almost everything.

Underground Mall in Sakae

A Japanese bookstore at underground mall in Sakae. Unfortunately, all the travel maps are sealed so I could not browse any travel spots from this place. :(

Gap and Nike shop.

I saw a guy driving a Chevy Caprice. Did I tell you some young Japanese guys likes to drive American cars? Well, up to a certain age, like when they have babies or something...

This is how Japanese park their cars. This is a valet parking, and you pay about 800 Yen for each hour you spend, but you can get discount at certain places if you show them a receipt from department stores.

Louis Vuitton Shop

Before it gets too dark, I decided to head home. I found McDonald's, but I did not go in there...


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Day03: 03/19/2002

I stayed at home for the morning, but I wanted to look around, so I went to Seiyu store, just bought up by the Wal-Mart Co.

I found some American stuffs. See the Japanese writings?

I wanted to go to Osu to buy a new digital camera, so I talked my dad, convinced that he needs a larger Memory Stick, and anti-virus software for his computer (so I have an excuse to go there). I got some good deals on all the items, I saved just 80Yen (less than a dollar) on Norton Anti-virus, but over 500 Yen (about $5) on the Memory Stick, and about 9,000 Yen ($75) on the digital camera. I almost forgot that most of places in Japan can get about 5% discount by negotiating. In the U.S. people just don't do it. (This is what I like about Japan, you can be a good negotiator...)

I met with my junior high school friends... I still have two good friends from high school, one guy works for a bakery, and other guy works for some subcontractor of Toyota Motor Co. Both had to work late, but they eventually got out the job by making some excuses. Thanks guys. We ate noodles, and wanted to go see a teacher from the high school, but seems like he got sick or something, so we spend time just talking. Except me, they both had to work.

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Day04: 03/20/2002

I have never been to Hiroshima before. However, almost everybody in the world know that is the one of two cities on earth where an atomic bomb was dropped. There are many places to look around, but the peace memorial museum and the Atomic dorm were the main things I wanted to see.


Nozomi Super Express (Type 700 Shown), the inside of the train

I used Nozomi, the newest and the fastest in Shinkansen (bullet train) family. The Nozomi #33 left Nagoya at 6:41am, I had my breakfast, which my mom made for me last night, immediately after the departure because I was already hungry. The train arrived to Hiroshima at 8:57am. I did not have any plan for that day so I bought a travel map from the Kiosk nearby. The first place I went is Miyajima, where has a Shinto Shrine at a beach. I used a local train which is this one...

A local train, I met two folks from Australia.

Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima is an island, so I had to take a ferry to get there. The price for a round trip by JR ferry is 340Yen. There are ferries almost every 20 minutes. If you take the JR one, you can get to closed to the Torii. I should have checked the tide so the ship could get closer.

The ferry and the Oh-Torii

Here is the view to the main island of Japan...

Here I am, if the timing is right, it could looked a lot nicer. The weather was a bit hazy, and the tide level was very low... There are many other places I can go to, but some of them cost money, so I went to only two other places.

Goju-To (Five stories Pagoda) and Senjokaku Temple

I paid 1,300 Yen for this. It has clam soup (lower left), and seasoned eels with steamed rice (center). Other places may charge more. You should estimate between 1,500 to 1,800 Yen for a good lunch.

Miyajima (or Itsukushima) is pretty much cultivated. Along the street facing the water has many hotels and gift shops. The one street behind of the road is also a shopping mall, you can buy many stuffs.

After coming back on the main island, I took train back to Hiroshima station. The city of Hiroshima has such a great transportation systems.

The Atomic Dorm, a very famous witness of that day. Right now, it undergoes some kind of preservation process. This was the only one of few buildings near hypocenter left standing after the bombing.

This bridge was the visual aid for the bombing. Somehow this is the only "T" shaped bridge in Hiroshima. You can see the dorm right next to it.

In the peace memorial park, I took some pictures.

The Peace Memorial, you can see the dorm in the back, and the stand in the fountain holds a fire. The stone says "please rest in peace, the mistake will never be repeated." Unfortunately there were some Japanese folks just defaced it by splashing red paint a few weeks before I come here. Those guys never understand the meaning of "Peace", and have no idea how many people from other countries visit here everyday. It was very much upsetting! Since I am a Japanese I actually get to talk to a victim of the A-bomb, he had a burn on his neck, and told me how he got it that day. I guess I cannot see those people ten years from now, they are getting old, too.

You see the dorm very small between buildings, and arch, the road you see here leads to the peace memorial museum, which partially shown at very right. This place was totally leveled by the bomb, but these days, Hiroshima has a bunch of buildings, people, and trees and other things.

The admission for the museum is just 50Yen, I guess like 50 cents. There are many volunteers who are wearing green uniform, explains what happened. I am not sure how well they speak in English. The museum contains many artifacts related to the A-bomb, here are some picture I can show you...

Pictures taken right after the bombing. To left (southwest), to right (west)

The clock stopped at 8:15am, the time of the explosion

The hypocenter... I went to look for this, The location of this monument was just few blocks to the east of the dorm. I do not know how they figure out the location, though...

I also went to Hiroshima Castle, it was destroyed by the blast of A-bomb, there are some funny looking trees in the area which the outer skin got ripped to a certain direction. The trees survived, somehow, but you still can see the burned part.

Hiroshima Castle. You see the cherry blossom began to bloom?

Yasukuni Shrine. There are many branches all over Japan, and this is the one of them. This place honors people who fought in the war, well, including the folks who committed war crimes...

Have anyone imagine who did this wavy things?

This is how they do it.

In Hiroshima, you can use trains which run with cars. The fare to the A-bomb dorm is 120Yen, it is about a dollar. Some of them looks pretty old though, but it is always a fun to ride this kind of transportation.


Seattle based company is also here. You can also find Starbucks Coffee shop in Nagoya and Tokyo.

The Mister Donut. My favorite donut shop in Japan. I thought this was pretty much world wide because of the name, but I guess not. They taste good though...

A police car. This one was Mazda Protage. In addition to this, the police station near by uses Toyota Echo...

On the way to home, I was able to get a seat on another kind of Nozomi, Type 500, designed by JR-West. This one is faster than the one I used in the morning, and cruises at speed of 300km/h (186mph, slower than the NASCAR...) The Nozomi #26 left Hiroshima at 17:32, and arrived in Nagoya 19:45, I ended up coming home around 20:30, about one hour earlier than planned.

Just for your information. These pictures shows the first Shinkansen (Type 0), this type of train began running right before the Olympic was held in Tokyo (1964). The speed topped at 250km/h, the fastest at the time.

I just wanted to say that once I thought dropping atomic bombs were acceptable in order to reduce the casualty of the Allied soldiers. However, my thought was changed after I visited Hiroshima. By visiting here, I could see the result of using a nuclear weapon in first hand. Nowadays, we have enough number of nuclear warheads to make every cities just like Hiroshima all over the world. Even Japan and the U.S. were at total war during the WWII, so many Japanese people's lives, many don't know who are the Americans, were taken away by this weapon. If Hiroshima was totally a military base, it would be fine because only the servicemen died. I repeated in my mind how come we could not have prevented this to be happened many times. If you have only seen the power of nuclear weapon on the books and TVs, I strongly recommend you to visit Hiroshima once. In the present day, the place is clean, neat and pretty much paved, but the places where you will be walking were where so many people died on that day.

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Day05: 03/21/2002

I am getting tired. I have not had any day which I can relax at house. Today is a holiday in Japan and I see many people who are relaxing.

I met with my friends from Junior High. I have not met them for a long time. I missed them all! I heard one of my friend got married and just had a baby. However, I guess that was the only case. Friends I know have not got married mostly. I don't know what is going to be next time I see them...?

Everybody was curious about the non-circulated U.S. 50 states quarters...

Before we wrap up, we got to take a picture!

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Day06: 03/22/2002

In the morning, I went to a hospital to get my grandpa's medicine. I spent about one hour there waiting, and then walked to Hoshigaoka Subway station. There is a Meitetsu bus going to Nagoya Airport from Hujigaoka, just 15 minutes from Hoshigaoka by train. I missed the bus which only depart one every hour, so I had to waste some time there. The fare to the Airport was 900 Yen, and took about 30 minutes. By accident I forgot to check the time table of buses to Hujigaoka, so I had no idea when the buses depart, so I wasted more time on the way go back.

At the airport, I bought a sectional map. It was written in Japanese so it was cool.

Nagoya Airport is an international airport, it also functions as a base for the Defense Force, and has a facility to modify aircraft used both in commercial and military.

Lotteria, a Japanese version of McDonald's

Mazda MX-6...

Well, a cigarette vending machine, anyone including minor can buy tobacco if they can afford it. I bet you will never see one in the U.S.! (In addition, this will never ask you for an ID...)

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Day07: 03/23/2002


Today is the last day of shopping(?). I went to a department store by the Nagoya train station to get some gift for my friends. At Nagoya station, there are two tall buildings called "Twin Towers" right on top of the station. There are a pair of towers right next to each other, and both have about 53 stories, there is also a observation deck on the 51st floor. I paid 700 Yen to go up there. Here are some views from the deck. (The restaurant on the top will charge you $100 for a simple lunch!)

This is the view to the east, you can see the downtown area of Nagoya. Click here for a bigger picture!

I could see Nagoya Castle

This is not a miniature. An actual photo...

Ford Focus...

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Day08: 03/24/2002

From To Departure Arrival Time Carrier Cost Distance
Home Hoshigaoka 8:27 8:45 0:18 Public Bus 200Yen 1.5miles?
Hoshigaoka Nagoya 8:49 9:15 0:26 Nagoya City Subway System (Higashiyama Line) 260Yen
Nagoya Tokyo 9:51 11:43 JR (Japan Railways) Central (Tokaido Shinkansen) Hikari 146 227miles
Tokyo Narita 15:03 16:00 0:57 JR East (Narita Express #27) 49 miles
Narita Dallas Ft. Worth 19:05(3/24) (JST) 15:35(3/24) (CST) 11:20 American Airlines Flight0060 (Boeing 777) 6437 miles
Dallas Ft. Worth Wichita 20:36(CST) 21:45(CST) 1:25 American Airlines Flight1007 (AA1221?) (Fokker 100 Jet) 331 miles

Today is the day I am heading back to the U.S. again. Since I kept my baggage small I did not have to take a taxi this time. I ate breakfast with my family, spend a little more time. Not like going for a vacation, I spend most of time studying in the U.S. so leaving the house is always hard... I can hardly stop tears coming out from my eyes, so I just don't look back. I don't want my family to see my face like that... Since I was carrying a huge suite case, people looked at me strangely. Well, as I said, going to Nagoya train station will cost me 7000 Yen by a taxi, so I am saving parents' money by using public transportation. They should rather think, I am a good son, and wish their sons could be like me. (maybe)

Saying Good Bye to Mt. Fuji... I will be back someday!

Oh, in case you did not get what is the Japanese definition of Kiosk, here it is. It is a small convenient store on train station. They are everywhere!

Everything went smooth and I met with one of my friend in Tokyo before going to Narita International Airport. She and I were both studying at Wichita State University, she graduated earlier then me so that's why she was back in Tokyo. I am glad that she is doing well. We went to a Indian food restaurant nearby Takarazuka theater in Yuraku-Cho. Had a lunch, and lot of talk... She stayed with me until the train leaves to the airport. She is a sweet girl, and I am a good friend of her, too. I always hate the time I have to go... The Narita Express 27 arrived to Narita Airport on time. I did not check whether I have to go to the Terminal 1 or 2, so I had to rely on my memory (and I was right, yeah!). I was surprised to know that the security procedure in Japan is not tight as I thought. It seems not been changed at all! (Or maybe just because I am a Japanese...) At the exit of the train, all passengers were visually screened, and I just had to go through a security check before I get to the gate. I heard a security guy saying to someone "Oi, Omae Mate! (Hey, you there stop!)" I bet the guy did not understand what the security guy said...

American Airlines AA0060 (B777)

I talked to few people over the trip, I met a group of people who work for the U. S. DoD, and also a Japanese lady who married to an American (also the husband is an FAA employee, so she does not have to go through the long lines...). While I was going to the gate for the domestic flight, I met a girl from Thailand, she speaks English a bit, but can speak Japanese fairly well. I talked in both languages (I do not know how to speak Thai...). She told me that her younger brother died in the U.S. that is why she is here. I am very sorry for her. At the security check, a bunch of folks stopped me, just because I was carrying a Japanese cell phone. (I will show you the picture of the cell phone later...)

On the way from DFW to Wichita was the worst. First, I had to move back to the terminal A where I arrived, then 1 hour delay was announced after I got there. Even worse, the pilots realized that there aren't enough fuel, so took another 10 minutes before boarding the passengers. I got back in my room after 10:00pm. Ah, it was such a long day! (The End)

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Last Updated on April 2, 2002

Copyright 2002 - Kosuke Ishikawa / Unauthorized copying of contents, partcial or whole, is not permitted.