Originally, my friends from middle school were planning to do a Hanami (a kind of party we do while watching cherry blossom flower blooming, alcohol involved in mot of cases). However, as of this morning, the trees are still too early to have flowers so we are not going to do it.
I went to a post office in late morning to ship out my stuffs (food seasonings, some magazines I bought in here). I wanted to go there by foot so I could see the changes in surrounding area. The post office used to be operated by the government, but they are changing it. I paid 8,200Yen for the shipping by EMS (a kind of shipping method, not the emergency medical service...). Due to so called "War Against Terrorism", all packages containing food must be inspected at the U.S. customs for possible bio-terrorism, it used to take only five days to receive the package, but will take a lot longer to get to my U.S. address this time. (The package later arrived on time.)
Post Office (They are now open 24hrs a day.)
I got back to my house right after noon, my family members were eating already. I had a black wheat noodle soup.
When I was listening to ZIP-FM, my favorite radio station in my home town, Chris Glenn, a guy who I know for a long time (10years) was saying that this is his last day. I still remember when I was in high school, He was hosting "Friday Dance Party" on every Friday night. His partner Robomaru and Himo also long gone too. The only person I know who still on the radio is James Havens.
My friend call me in the evening. We are going to a place where we can eat some beef. Went to beef BBQ place in the evening around 7:15pm. My friend picked me up since I don't have a car. We went to a place in Ueda, I tried many weird things like cow's stomach and hog meet. We spent around 2,000-2,500Yen with full stomach. We were still waiting for another person but I guess he was still working.
Did some fireworks after that. It was not planned but one of the friends had it from the last summer and worries that might get wet sometimes. I have not done this for a long time. The State of Kansas allows residents to play with them only on the 7/4. Just as my friend predicted, some of the fireworks were wet, so not all of them could be used. One of them I tried did not make a spark even to the last part...
This is a Senko-Hanabi, the most unimpressive one but requires skill to keep the fireball burning. If you shake it, the fireball will drop and you are done.
We could not do anything loud since it was past 9:00pm (Yes, we are mature adults...)
After meeting up with the one more member, we decided to do some Karakoke. We stayed until 1:00am and the party is over.. It's too late for me...
Went home around 1:30am.
I woke up around 7:00am. Last night I called my friend from high school, he gave me call back but I somehow missed it. I only have one friend left in the city, others are just gone away or don't want to meet me. As the time passes, less and less friends are around... (Or I just stayed in the U.S. too long?)
I left my house around 10:00am, take city bus and subway to go to Osu, the favorite place where all of my high school friends liked to hang out. Osu district is near a shrine called Osu Kannon and there are so many stores near by the place.
I have stopped by Chikusa station on the way to Osu. Chikusa is the nearest place I can buy JR train tickets for tomorrow's trip.
To conclude my Japan trip. I have been to a very special place, Nagoya International Center, where is the starting point of my study abroad life in the U.S. Back in Summer of 1995, I stepped into this building for the first time, going to a company called the ICS to get help on the processes.
Nagoya Kokusai Building (My brother says, why the name for the building with international function is written in Japanese?)
Met with my friend at Osu. He did not wake up until noon so I had to hold on to my lunch. I told him that I wanted to go to Yoshinoya.
Due to BSE scare, Japanese government stopped importing of U.S. beef. So, Yoshinoya, which rely its beef source from the U.S., does not have beef bowl anymore. This is Kim-Chee Pork bowl. Only 340Yen, cheaper than eating at McDonald's
My friend wanted to buy an iPod. He just realized the release of iPod Mini has been postponed from end of March due to the extremely well sales in the U.S. Maybe I should buy a iPod Mini in the U.S. and send it to him.
Akamon Street in Osu district. 28th day of every month is an "En-Nichi" which is like a holiday for this Japanese shrine so the entire neighborhood will be designated as walking zone, or "Hokousha Tengoku in Japanese.
We headed to north to buy some CDs and books. I wanted to buy some Zip-FM's CDs and my friend wanted to buy a book about the new "Ghost in the Shell" so we went to Nadia Park, where has CD store and bookstore.
The Matrix Revolutions will be released in DVD format in Japan on April 2nd. (The U.S. release is on April 4th.)
View from Nadia Park
I said goodbye to my friend after going back to Osu. I will see him someday.
Came home around 5:00pm. Today was the last day of Sumo Wrestling for Spring round.
I spent most of evening just updating my webpage.
Today is the day I am heading back to Kansas. I spent whole morning to pack. I came home with two check in bags but now I have to reduce it one since I am using Shinkansen to go to Tokyo. My brother and dad had to work today so I said good bye to them in the morning.
Leaving here early afternoon (before 12:00pm)
There was a city bus leaving at 11:45am, so I left my house at 11:40am. This is always the hardest part, since I have to say good bye to my grandparents and mom. My grandma actually watching me until I turned corner nearby my house (She no loner remembers my name, though...).
Go to Hoshigaoka by City Bus. Fare 200Yen
The bus came on time. Everybody looked at me like watching some stranger. Since after Japanese government sent our troops to Iraq, it has been the most serious issues about the terrorist attacks in our land.
Stop by Mr. Donut at Hoshigaoka Terras. I bought 5 of them. I have not eaten their donuts for more than 8 years! There was a kind of donuts called "Shoyu-de pon" that donuts with soysauce flavor, sprinkled with some sea weeds. It was quite good.
Go to Nagoya Station by City Subway, fare 260Yen
It does not take too long to get to the platform for the Shinkansen. After getting off at Nagoya of subway, I used the West exit which has an escalator to the underground mall. The exit to the surface, however, has no access by escalator or an elevator, so I had to climb up with my heavy baggage. I hope they have another way...
Nozomi 50, arriving Nagoya
Shinkansen Nozomi 50 13:05-14:46
I always liked train ride. Maybe I am so used to the speed, I just cannot take local train or rapid. They are pretty slow. I was sitting in a seat which I can see south side. If I get to sit on the left hand side, I could see Mt. Fuji, but the weather was not so good anyway.
When I arrive to Tokyo, it is always a Deja-vu. I recall the same feeling back in 1996, I was 18 years old, walking with a big travel case...
It used to take more than 2 hours to get to Tokyo, but now it takes only 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Narita Express 27 15:03-15:58
Narita Express docking to another one at Tokyo
I had less than 20 minutes to get to the station for Narita Express. The Shinkansen stops at the ground floor, but the Narita Express departs from the 4th level underground. I had to use escalators but I felt like I was not going to make it. The Narita Express was non-stop to Narita Airport. It was nice. A girl who sat next to me left her seat right after departure and came back when the train arrives. I think she does not have express ticket. On guy on the other side looked like an American, eating sandwiches and drinking bottled Japanese tea. That looked very funny... The other guy looked like a Japanese, reading a book and must be a partner since they were talking when they were getting off.
When the train arrives to Narita Airport 1st Terminal, everybody will be checked for their passport for identification purpose. If you looks suspicious, your baggage will be checked. In general, I don't get searched since I am a Japanese.
Same all path. Getting off from the station, make right, take escalator ride to the fourth floor. I always hate it. After climbing to the fourth floor, that is the check-in counter. I get my both carry in and check in baggage inspected by an X-Ray machine. The baggage check is always easy for me. Since there were nobody at first class check-in counter, I was able to go thorough fast.
After checking in my baggage, I went through a security check, and down one floor for immigration. I used to fill out a form but now it is not required. So I just need to go to the gate and wait.
Go back to the U.S., Wichita
I had about three hours until the boarding, so I was looking places around. I hoped that I can find a good deals. The terminal 1 has pretty much everything. There are places you can buy duty free items, electric appliances (including Japanese Rice cookers), bookstores.
I used internet at the airport. 100Yen for 10 minutes (and takes only cash). I compared the price of the digital cameras I wanted to buy but the Best Buy has better deals. All of the items sold in the duty free stores were pretty much more expensive than buying in the U.S. due to weak dollar. If $1 = 120Yen, it is a good deal to buy them.
10 minutes for 100Yen, Cash only. (They use a Dell computer with English keyboard and does not have any fonts such as Japanese or Chinese. Sorry folks...)
American Airlines AA60 Narita International-Dallas Ft. Worth International 7:10pm-3:35pm B777 (37A)
The initial boarding was scheduled from 6:30pm but bumped to 6:55pm. I have a bad feeling.
Gate 11B, here I go!
--- a bus ride about 10 minutes ---
Ended up boarding at remote place.
We ended up catching a ride to a bus. The aircraft was parked at place where the cargo planes are at. However, we still managed to depart on time. Since the place the aircraft was parked was nearby the active runway, we were able to take off pretty quick. (I think we were at number 3.). The person who sat next to me was visiting her daughter in Yokota.
After taking off, airplane started to head toward the U.S. However, after reaching the cruise altitude, the airplane ran into a bumpy air, so flight attendants had to halt serving drinks (Oh, come on!). We had dinner later, but there was no choice of meal. I watched NHK's Project X, talking about Subaru 360. I liked their story about suspension system. (NHK stands for Nippon Hoso Kyokai, or Japan Broadcasting Association in English. The Project X is a TV program made by the NHK, covering the over coming of technological difficulties in some of Japanese engineering. Programs cover topics such as YS-11, the first airplane made by Japanese after the WWII, and H-2 rocket, Japanese satellite launching system) After finish watching the TV program, I tried to sleep and it went quite well. I slept about 6 hours, then I woke up. I was almost to the U.S. soil. It was cloudy but I took a picture anyway. At the time, my nose got blocked and started to have trouble breeze from nose smoothly. I think the lady next me was watching the all movies.
Watched a movie called "Something Gotta Give" while eating my breakfast. Was okay.
Arrived at DFW airport, the plane came from the NW and took a left turn to land to the north so I was able to see the airport. I am tired but I have only about 1 hour to catch the connection flight to Wichita. So I walked fast, passing many people. Hoping to go through everything quick.
Had my finger prints of both index fingers and my face photo taken at the immigration. Now I am on their database though. Hahaha. (I realized that I had my sunglasses on top of my head at the time. Will they think I have four eyes?) I did not have much trouble at immigration this time. I think SERVIS system is working fine. After the immigration process, I had to go though the customs and they checked my all of baggage on X-ray machine. After re-check in my baggage, I headed to the gate. From the departure information, the gate should be B7. I arrived at terminal A so I have to walk to the gate via moving walkway.
After the process I have to go to the gate so I needed to go through the security check again. At inspection, they asked me to take my shoes off, that's my first time in a while. My bag was X-rayed twice again. This time it was because of a chunk of Japanese coins. I think large concentrations of metallic object gives them a warning sign.
CRJ-700 being refueled
Called my friends to make sure my plans for the evening work well. One of my friend will pick me up at the airport for sure, but I am not sure which place to dine out with my other friend so far.
American Airlines flight AA3509 from Dallas Ft. Worth bound to Wichita was planning to depart at 4:51pm and arrive in Wichita at 6:04pm. The aircraft was CRJ-700 and my seat was at 18A, which is the very last row and was pretty noisy, In addition, the rest room is on the other side of isle. I will pick better seat next time. The airplane was delayed from the beginning, we left the gate at 5:30pm instead of 4:50pm. The captain was saying there was a problem but did not say anything about it. I witnessed the loading of my bag. It was in pretty banged up already. I think I will have to dispose it when I get back to Wichita...
The enroute was pretty bumpy. I know they are in hurry but it was not fun. Since I am used to bumpy ride, I did not get sick so I was working on my web page all the way to Wichita. The plane arrived in Wichita at 6:30pm. They made 1:13 trip into 59 minutes, good job. My friend was waiting for me so I picked up baggage as soon as I could. After pick up my car at my friend's house. I went to Manna Wok to have dinner with other friends. I met with guys who I knew from back in 1996.
After coming back to my room, I unloaded everything and started to work on my homework due tomorrow. I went bed around 11:00pm. It's been a long day...
(End of the journal)
Last Updated on 2004/04/18
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Introduction / Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5