Japan Trip 2008 Part 3 - Visa Renewal

The last time I entered the U.S. an immigration officer put a stamp on my passport that I have to leave on Sep 10th, since H-1B visa was expiring on August 30th and my application for renewal is still pending, I needed to make sure that I won't break any laws. I received my paper on 9/4 from HR and now I just need to go home once. I bought the ticket on the same day. Had to write many papers and need to have them approved before I can go to Japan. Also, I have to wait for my passport mailed back with a new visa stamp, I decided to work at the Japanese office for a week.

2008/9/10-11 Going to Japan

Going to the airport

A Calm morning...

Woke up at 6:30am, stretched my body, took a shower, did a load of laundry to not to leaving any worn cloths in apartment. I also took out trash bags, checked internet for news and flight information. I believe everything is good to go. Carried my bags to the car, left apartment at 7:30am, there was a car wreck on the road right in front of the apartment complex, so it was not easy getting out. Stopped by at a bank to withdraw cash, then dealt with the traffic jams at I-96 entrance. Once on the freeway, it was just fine but lack of sleep and fatigue from stress causing me to employ extra attention on the way. Another traffic jam at the exit of I-275 for I-94 toward the airport, which the vehicles came to complete stop. Continued on I-94 east, and arrived at the airport at 8:30am. I found a spot to park very closed to the terminal building. The only catch was that water everywhere and I had hard time taking my bags out without making them wet.

Took an elevator up to the third floor, checked in my bags, which was exactly at 70.0lb total. It was the maximum weight (The lady was not happy that I had 52lb bag and 18lbs) without extra fees. The ticketing machine was asking me if I want to upgrade to business class for $910, I certainly not. I would have taken the offer if it was free, though. While waiting for the security screening, I saw a sign saying that the new terminal to be opened on 9/17. I know there's been construction going on but did not know about the opening day. Pass the security check without a problem, then start walking toward the gate. On the way to the gate, I bought a bottle of water and also some magazines. The cashers were talking about getting a speeding ticket at 5mph above the speed limit with fine of $110. Too bad for him but now I see why one of my coworkers were warning me on driving above the speed limit on certain road near the airport. After taking a seat at a bench, powered up my PC and I worked on my assignments until 10:00am.

To Chicago: AA1257 DTW(10:25am EDT) - ORD(10:35am CDT)

The sky was very much sunny, and I was expecting a smooth ride to Chicago. The boarding started on time. There's no trouble while readying the plane for take off, and departed on time. The plane took off to the south, flying just south of Willow Creek airport then flew over Ann Arbor. The air was smooth so the plane kept cruising, passing the Michigan Lake then approached to the Chicago O'Hare from the east, straight in for the landing at 10:05am, twenty minute early. So there is no available gate for us, and parked on ground for a while before we can get off. Maybe the arrival was way too early, so even we get to the gate at 10:20am, the jet bridge won't come for another 10 minutes. So, despite of arriving early, we ended up getting off the plane on time.

AA1257 at old terminal

New terminal under construction Willow Lake Airport Ann Arbor downtown
Michigan Lake shore insight Chicago Executive Airport

To Narita: AA153 ORD(12:50pm CDT) - NRT(3:40pm JST on 11th)

After getting out from the pervious plane, I stopped by at a bookstore to buy some magazines. Since the gate for the next flight is just few feet away, I found a place to sit and worked on assignment again until 11:30am. When I reached to the departing gate, they changed the gate from K18 to K16. So I moved to a new gate and took a seat. There have been many people waiting but not too crowded. I was a bit sleepy so took a nap. The bright sunlight makes me sleepy also... They announced a 10 minutes delay on beginning of the boarding, so it started at 12:20pm. Once the boarding began, I took a seat and readied myself for the long flight.

AA153 at ORD Departing, seeing Chicago downtown in a distance

The plane departed the gate at 12:50pm on time, then after a short taxi, the plane took off to the south at 1:00pm. Made a left turn toward north. The flight was not so smooth, and faced turbulent air in Wisconsin around 1:40pm, the captain of the flight was saying that parts of flight may be like that. Oh, man. The in flight entertainment system was okay, so I watched the Speed Racer and Indiana Jones on the way, otherwise I was listening to classic and jazz.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Flying over Alaska

Around 3:00pm, lunch was served, and then reached Calgary at 4:00pm and turbulence caused the guy sitting next to me spilled his drink, had to get cleaned. The air get smoother for a while but again, another turbulence hit near Prince George in Canada around 5:00pm. Passing White Horse, Canada around 6:00pm, finally reached to Anchorage at 7:00pm. The trip is halfway over.




At 8:00pm, snacks were served. I am so familiar with this now... I took a nap after that, since I have nothing to do with At 12:00am, time for breakfast, display in front of me showing that the arriving time is at 3:35pm JST. We started to descend to the airport, but the captain of the plane told that there is a chance we get involved with turbulence, the thing was okay, only one big jolt near the shore. The plane was almost ready for the landing, the weather was cloudy everywhere, and I could not see the ground much. At least I could tell we get our feet dry at 3:35pm through the cloud. The plane landed on time at 3:40pm. Taxied for a while and reached the gate in about 10 minutes. Passing the immigration, and reached the baggage claim at 4:15pm, had to give up beef jerky because Japan only allows pork or chicken jerky. They were saying that the rules changes time to time and please check with our website. Oh well...

Approaching the airport Landed safe
AA153 at Narita Airport Past 4:00pm at local time...

Exited after passing the custom, and exchanged currency at a bank with the exchange rate of $1=?Yen around 4:20pm. I am ready to survive in Japan for a week now.

Narita Express 36 (Narita Airport 16:48 - Shinagawa 17:57)

After checking on the timetable, I guess can get on the train leaving to Tokyo at 4:48pm. I went down stairs for the JR ticketing window. An employee start talking to me in English (but it was not good) and trying to tell me that I could buy ticket with credit card at automated machine which PIN, so I just answered in Japanese that my card does not have a PIN (for my protection, people cannot withdraw cash by stealing my card, hahaha!).

I bought a ticket to Hyogo, instead of Nagoya to save money (see below)

I also bought ticket for Narita Express (1,460Yen), and Shinkansen (4,490Yen), which I will be switching the train at Shinagawa.

NEX36 arriving at Narita Rainy outside

I went down to the platform around 4:30pm, and I had some free time, so I used some changes I got from exchanging the currency, and  bought a bottle of tea. I also pulled out a cell phone to call my dad to let him know that I arrived. He was at my mom's hospital room. The train soon came and I got on it. Since it was raining a bit, not much to see outside but it is a different scenery since this is my first time seeing Narita under rain. (Yes, I did check all the Japan trip record!)

The train was on schedule, stopped at Tokyo station, but not many people got off. Train arrived to Shinagawa on time, tight security as usual...

Nozomi 139 (Shinagawa 6:00pm - Nagoya 7:42pm)

Went upstairs to move to Shinkansen platform. I think I might just missed last time but I found out there is a store that I can buy meals. I bought chicken meal. Took it down to the platform, hope I can eat. The train come on time, and I got inside. There was a person at aisle side, so I had to squeeze myself into the window seat. The rain was very much over and I get to see outside which is getting dark. Just two month ago, it was still bright even I when I arrived to Nagoya so I can tell the change in the season. I had a dinner inside of the train. Because of the tight seat and too much stuffs, I could not get enough space to put my bags aside and not stable, I kept holding the bags while I was eating. It was a bit difficult. After the meal, I guess I got sleepy a bit, so I fell sleep for a while, I woke up about 30 minutes before arriving to Nagoya. I was simply too tired, but I cannot afford spending too much money taking taxi or anything.

Nozomi 139 arriving at Shinagawa Sunset nears
My Dinner  

Coming home

I walked out from the JR Nagoya station with boarding ticket in my hand. I should not loose it. Walked down to the subway station, took a train leaving Nagoya at 7:50pm, then arrived to a bus station nearby my house to catch one leaving there at 8:20pm. I walked to my house in a dark sky after getting off at a bus stop, the surroundings have not changed much but the air is surely cooler than the last trip. I arrived at home around 8:30pm, greeted with my dad, talked to him for a while, check to see what he is going to do tomorrow, I think I had enough for today, going to bed around midnight.

2008/9/12 Resting at home,

My lunch

Preparing for the interview at USGC

I woke up at 2:00am in the morning once, then fell back to sleep after a while. Finally woke up at 5:00am, had a breakfast at 7:00am with my dad. He cooked and I washed the dishes. Headed out around 9:00am to get hair cut, but there is already another customer so I had to wait for a while, done by 10:00am. Walked up to a convenience store to buy an ExPack500, which is like a priority mail provided by USPS in Japan. You pay 500Yen (=$5.00) then, and the package can be delivered pretty much everywhere in Japan within a day or two.

Once I come home, I called a photo gallery, to get 5cm x 5cm picture for Visa application form taken. made an appointment at 1:30pm. My dad told me that he took my old portable CD player, which is one of very first CD player with Electronic Shock Protection (only for 3 seconds). Since my mom wants to listen some music. My dad was planning on borrowing CDs from nearby CD rental stores but they did not have anything particular my mom likes. I called public library, and found out that they have those. so I let him know about it. Habit of phone attacks from work actually helps getting some information I needed. Hahaha.

Getting ID photo

After lunch, 12:45pm I caught a bus, and headed to a subway station, move to Sakae via Higashiyama line, arrived at a photo gallery on time. Get changed in suit, and went through a session for about 15 minutes. I had to pay 4,200Yen and asked to wait until tomorrow noon for the picture. They are open until 7:30pm everyday. I could forget about expediting charge of another 1,000Yen to process it by the evening.

Paying the application fee

After stepping out from the store, I stopped by at a Mizuho bank, performed a transaction to pay 14,500Yen for the visa application. I did not know how to process on that ATM machine, so I had to ask an employee at the site. They found out I have not been to Japan for a while, and thought I would give them some business or something, they gave me a cheap gift... Anyways, I got the receipt which I need for the interview. Before leaving Sakae, I walked around the underground mall, and found a store which have many classical music CDs. I bought four of them and left Sakae around 14:10 to stop by at hospital. I got there around 14:50 and met with my mom for two hours. Told her that I will be back tomorrow, and left the room.

Come home around 5:30pm, had dinner with my dad. I tried to call my friends, but I still do not feel well so I do not want to hang out with them right now. I also called the office in the U.S. at 9:30pm, which is at 8:30am in Michigan time to talk with HR about the documents I need for the interview. After that, I gather stuffs requested by my mom today, and finish doing it by 11:30pm. Checked emails but HR has not sent me the files yet. Oh well, I went to bed by midnight.

2008/9/13 Staying home due to fatigue

[Hurricane Ike made landfall to Galveston, TX]

Woke up at 3:00am, could not sleep any longer, so I stayed in bed until 6:00am, called the office in the U.S. to check on progresses on the projects and assignments with my supervisor. I guess calling him was right, because we had to go over with many items. Stretched my body, then had breakfast with my dad around 7:00am, headed to outside for a morning jog. I started to sweat pretty good, since the temperature outside is warmer than Detroit, and cloudy so the air did not get cooled over night.

Called four friends after 10:00am, get to talk with them for two. I guess I have to try another time. Typed up my trip report so far and I forgot about visiting my grandma before noon. Oops..

My dad was making some sandwich containing a raw tuna and onion. It was alright. Took a nap in the afternoon until 4:00pm, then my brother visited the home, and my dad came home also. He was planning on having some sashimi, and a red wine. I walked to a grocery store to buy few items to add something for the dinner. Come home, had about half hour before so I cooked, also prepared some foods for us all. The wine my dad got was made in Japan, with imported fruit juice. The taste was harmless, no bitter taste from the beginning. I like the one with bitter at first but get softening after a while...

I get to talk with my brother, who is expecting to become a father sometimes soon, until 9:00pm. He has been living by himself for three weeks, and he is barely doing okay. I decided to go bed early today.

2008/9/14 Moving to Kobe

Woke up at 3:30am, I could hear rain falling between 4:00am to 5:00am, finally got up from the bed at 6:00am. Stretched my body and went out for running in the morning. After breakfast, I washed the dishes, took shower, did a laundry, took them to a laundromat nearby to dry. Started to pack for the business trip to Kobe starting tomorrow. Called a couple of friends

Meeting with friends from school

At noon, I met with my friends from junior high at a coffee shop nearby my place. We just chat a bit then moved to a Sushi restaurant for late lunch. It was great time catching up what's up with their lives. One of them, a friend from preschool, was first time seeing in almost 6 years. We checked out some sushi, and a eclair which looks like a fried shrimp. A-ha-ha!

Eclair looks like fried shrimp My friends from junior high

My friend gave me a ride back to my house, so I just finished packing and locked up the house and left to the hospital around 4:00pm. While I was waiting at bus stop nearby my house, my dad caught up so we headed together. Arrived at 4:30pm, my mom seems to be doing okay. I stayed until 5:45pm, then headed to Sakae to pick up my ID photo. I also wanted to buy a book which I was interested but I could not find it there. Get back to subway station and headed to Nagoya station.

Moving to Kobe

I arrived Nagoya around 6:30pm and bought a ticket for super express train for 2,410Yen for non-reserved seat. I was at platform at 18:40, The non-reserved ticket can be used for both Hikari and Nozomi, and the travel time won't be different much. Nozimi 131 left Nagoya on time at 18:44. The non-reserved cars did not have much people inside, so I was able to take up a whole row. I noticed my brother called me on my cell phone while I was on transit to here, so I called him back and also my grandma, apologized her for not being able to stop by. On the way to Osaka, I could see full moon in the sky on the way. I wish my mom could see the same moon from her hospital room. I remember at least once my mom made us ball shaped rice cookies. A kind of tradition for Otsukimi (Moon Fest).

Nozomi 131 arriving at Nagoya station Full moon in the air

Arrived to Shin Osaka station at 7:36pm; on time. I checked on schedule and found out that there is some time before next train for Kobe leaves Shin Osaka. So I found a bookstore inside of the station to buy a book but they did not have one. I decided to go down to the platform and wait for the train to come. At 7:54pm, a special rapid train leaving Shin-Osaka, there weren't many people maybe today is Sunday. A smooth ride to Kobe, arriving at 8:15pm. I switched to a local train, and finally arrived to Hyogo station at 8:35pm.

Special Rapid at Shin Osaka

Before walking out from the station, I tried a bookstore inside of Hyogo station and I found a book I wanted to read, "Girl who leapt through time" by Yasutaka Tsutsui. I have seen an animated movie produced last year on internet, and I wanted to read the original version. (That movie is based on this book but the time setting is 20 years after the original)

Dragging my bag and walked to a local restaurant to order a pork fries at Tonkatsu Ganko, took it to the hotel with me. Checked in the hotel at 9:00pm, went out to get some water and juice, went to bed around 11:00pm. I need to get ready for tomorrow.

My dinner, Fried pork

2008/9/15 At Kobe, Day 1

[Lehman Brothers to file bankruptcy, DJIA to lose 504.48 points]

  • Vegetable Juice
  • Big Tuna & Cheese
  • Custard


I was up from 3:30am, and could not fall sleep again but stayed in the bed. Got up at 6:00am, no rain outside but cloudy. Stretched my body then went outside of the hotel to get myself breakfast at nearby convenience store. Took shower, headed for the company, received a visitor pass then when to the office where I usual stay. I had to greeted with some people went back to Japan from the U.S. office there. Since it was Monday, and several coworkers were coming back from other locations from the world; Belgium, China, Saudi Arabia. I found out a couple of people I know headed to the U.S. while I was heading back to Japan. I had lunch with coworkers, worked until 10:00pm, headed to The Meshiya, a self-serving restaurant which is like a cafeteria at work. I picked a few sides, rice and a bowl of miso soup. The outside was raining so I am glad that I don't have to use umbrella. My coworker took me back to the hotel and I went to bed after taking a shower.

2008/9/16 Interview at Osaka USGC

Going to Osaka for interview

  • Tomato Juice
  • Boild Egg
  • Riceball: Salmon
  • Riceball: Spicy fish egg


Express Hamakaze Universal Studio Japan wrapping train

I woke up sometimes in the night, then I could not sleep much since then. Got up at 5:30am, mostly cloudy but I could see some sky between the clouds. It was already bright somehow.

I went out to get breakfast at 6:00am, finished eating and took a shower. The interview appointment was at 8:30am, so I have to be there before then. Leaving the hotel at 7:10am. Walked to the nearby train station and put my bag into a coin locker. Purchased a ticket to Osaka for 540Yen. Get on a local train to move to Kobe station at 7:20am, since it will take forever just going to Osaka with local train, so I need to switch to a Special Rapid train, which was leaving Kobe station at 7:32am, arriving at Osaka at 8:01am.

USGC builiding

The U.S. General Consulate is located just a walking distance from Osaka station to south, so after arriving to Osaka station, I walk along the street to get there. So many people walking around, and police officers were directing people to smooth up the traffic. I did not remember exactly where it was but I still could remember in my memory from three years ago. I called my dad in the morning to check on him while I walk. I arrived at USGC at 8:20am, get my document checked at the outside. As usual, they have Japanese mobile police car parked in front of the office, and several officers with protection gears guarding the place. There were about ten people waiting in front of the building, and I had to wait for a while under cloudy sky. A weather forecast was saying about possible rain shower today. Got in the building, which I had to have my bag checked and took an elevator up to the third floor of the building.

Osaka downtown Near JR Osaka station, weather is getting better

Get my document checked, and proceeded to the second floor, then I was done with the interview by 9:10am very quick. I guess maybe because I was consistent? When I stepped outside, it was raining a bit but not to the level I need to use umbrella. I walked back to the train station, and used a S-rapid leaving Osaka at 9:32am, arrived at Kobe 9:56am, changed to a Rapid train leaving at 9:58am then to Hyogo at 10:01am. Unlocked the locker and pulled out my backpack, then walk to the company 10:30am. On the way to the company, I called my grandma to let her know about my schedule.

Spend afternoon at work

Had lunch with coworker at cafeteria, worked until 8:00pm then had dinner with my former coworker at Izakaya Ekimae. Come back to hotel, went to bed around 11:00pm.

2008/9/17 At Kobe, Day 3

[Detroit Metro Airport opened its new North Terminal, I will be arriving there when I come back to the U.S.]

  • Vegetable Juice
  • Sausage & Mayonnaise
  • Red Beans Danish


Woke up at 3:30am then could not go back to sleep. Went outside for a short running. Left the hotel at 8:30am and walked to work  Had a couple of meetings, stayed until 6:00pm, then headed to Ekimae restaurant with seven other coworkers. My dad called me around 6:15pm, telling me that my brother's become a dad. Good for him, and my dad is now a grandfather.

Sushi set

Funa-mori (Sashimi placed on top of ship figure) Fries

Stayed at restaurant until 8:30pm, according to the time reserved for the table. Headed back under slight rain but no need to an umbrella. Arrived at hotel, got a call from my brother around 10:00pm. I did not bother him calling him later but I am glad he did for me instead. Fell to sleep and woke up at 11:00pm. Oops, but why? I only had two bottles of beer?! Anyways, I need to sleep so went to bed again.

2008/9/18 At Kobe, Day 4

[AIG to be taken controlled by government in exchange of receiving aid, DJIA to lose another 449.36 points]

  • Awajishima 3.6% Fat Milk
  • Boiled Egg
  • Riceball: Tuna
  • Riceball: Mushroom


Woke up at 5:50am, cloudy at outside, may be raining, too. Stepped outside to get my breakfast, took shower and watched TV for a while. I guess there are many changes going on at financial field in the U.S. Last Monday was Lehman Brothers, and today is about AIG. No wonder my investment is losing almost 20% of its value... Anyways, I headed to work.

I checked on the net to confirm that my passport shipped from USGC yesterday and expected to arrive to my home in Nagoya today. I called my dad in the evening to tell him about it. Before the sunset, the outside look kinda weird maybe because of a typhoon approaching to Japan. The wind was a bit strong also, but not raining yet.

Weird weather as typhoon nears Weird weather as typhoon nears

Stayed at office until 10:00pm, had dinner at Yoshinoya by myself since other coworkers still at work. The restaurant, they were out of salad. Hmmm, so I went to convenience store to buy snacks before I can go back to hotel around 11:00pm, went to bed around midnight.

2008/9/19 Last day of work, coming back to Nagoya

Spend half day at work

Japanese news reporting the results of NFL Cloudy sky, not sure how long the rain will hold
  • Meiji Bulgaria Drinkable Yogurt
  • Riceball Tuna & Mayonnaise
  • Riceball Broiled Spicy Fish Eggs
  • Baked pudding


Woke up at 5:00am, not much but the air is warm and cloudy. Typhoon 13 is located at south of Shikoku Island, expected to approach to Kinki region near the evening. The news shows some damages but not that serious. I went outside for a short run, took shower, checked emails on the internet, saw one from my dad wrote that he got a package for me at home containing my passport with visa stamp. Well, I still need to check all the items are filled correctly. I checked out from the hotel at 8:20am, but asked to hold my big bags until 2:00pm for me, arrived at work at 8:45am, start working on my assignments. I need to finish them up before I head back to the U.S. Had lunch with my coworkers, had noon meeting and I had to do a short speech. Start gathering materials, and I was asked to carry a few items for the office in the U.S. (well, nothing illegal, you know...). Said thanks to my coworkers and left the office. I returned my ID card as I walk out.

Going home, Stopping by at hospital

I walked back to the hotel under cloudy sky with a bit humid air, to pick up my bags. I bought a train ticket to Kobe (170Yen?), carried up my bags with me then hopped on a short ride to Kobe station and got off around 1:51pm. Because Hyogo station does not have stores I can buy gifts, I had to come here since Kobe station has various stores so I bought a few presents to my mom, dad, bother's family, and my grandmas. I stopped by at ticketing window, paid (2,410 Yen for Shinkansen, 9,560 Yen for fare ) to Nagoya station but boarding pass was to Narita Airport, since that's where I am heading to on Sunday. Pass the gate and carried up my bags again to the platform. I found a rapid train going to Kyoto region, so I jumped in at 14:07. Since it is not Super Rapid, it made a few stops, but no sign of rain, so I don't have to worry too much. Arrived at Shin Osaka station at 14:43.

Rapid train approaching to Kobe station Nozomi 310 at Shin Osaka station

After I got off from the rapid train, I went upstairs and checked the status board, a couple of bullet trains were leaving, and one leaving early was Nozomi 126, leaving at 2:47pm, which I don't think I cannot make it. So I went up to another platform to catch Nozomi 310 departing Shin Osaka at 2:53pm and arriving at Nagoya at 3:45pm. No rain yet when I walked up to the platform, only cloudy, hot and humid. The non-reserved seat was almost empty so I can get a window seat. Yay. When the train departed, I called my dad to let him know that I arrived to Osaka and leaving to Nagoya. My dad was shopping at a grocery store, where reception is not good so I had to repeat many times to let him know the train schedule. Oh, well. The ride back to Nagoya was pretty much smooth, no rain but I can see some sign of hard rain fell on the ground. Since the typhoon is still approaching, the rain can start anytime. The train kept heading east under almost rainy weather...

Clouds are looking weird Also the same here

Fuji Tec Elevator tower

I guess I did not have to worry to much, the train arrived on time and the rain also started just as arriving to Nagoya. I took a Higashiyama line subway to Motoyama, then switch to Meijo line to

the hospital. When I got there, the outside was raining. I got to my mom's hospital room at 4:15pm, talked with my mom until 5:40pm. I told her what happen over the week, and talked some other stuffs for a while. She listened me and looked happy. When I left her room, I pulled out my cell phone and call my brother, home and grandma. When I stepped outside, the rain was falling pretty hard. I thought about using a taxi but did not want to spoil myself, so decided to take subway with big bags in commuting hour (pretty bad idea but I had no choice.). Before going down to the platform, I just remembered that my dad usually use a bus to get here, so I went to a bus stop and there it is, just only 5 minutes wait, and I can just go home without using a train!

The bus arrived on time at 6:05pm but there was no cover at the stop so I only could save myself with a small foldable umbrella, not my big bag... The ride to a stop nearby home was about 20 minutes, then I still had to walk in the rain to get back to the home. I checked my bags when I get home but it was not badly soaked, just I could bring a bigger umbrella next time... Had dinner with my dad, washed the dishes while talking with my dad. Everything finished by 8:00pm, and the rain stopped around 10:00pm. Only the wind was a bit strong during that time. While I was relaxing, I pulled up dirty laundry from my bag and place inside of washer. I have to finish everything before I leave here on Sunday, so I did a load of laundry, and headed to bed around 11:00pm. I hope typhoon won't do any damage to our house.

2008/9/20 Meeting with the primary care doctor, visiting my grandma

Meeting with doctor about my mom

Woke up at 6:00am. It was sunny and cool but not nice as usually people says. Did another load of laundry following from yesterday. Took everything to a nearby laundromat around 8:00am but also stopped by at retirement housing to drop off a gift to my grandma. I started to dry my cloth from 8:40am, and took 30 minutes to finish up. My dad called me around 9:20am and he's telling me that he's going to leave the house. I packed my bag, walked back to the house and took a quick shower, I left home around 9:40am and arrived to the hospital around 10:30am. The doctor was on in yet so we had to wait. He finally came and told us that the treatment seems to be working. The meeting lasted a very short period of time, being told that chemotherapy is working on my mom and may live a bit longer, although he cannot say for how long. My dad and brother seems to be relieved a bit. I, too. Stopped by at mom's room for a moments then my dad had to go back home, and my brother and I needed to go visit to see sister in law.

Going to see grandma

Had lunch with my dad and brother at 11:00am in hospital's cafeteria. Left hospital around 12:00pm. stopped by at a CD store to buy five more classical music discs for my mom. Arrived to Nagoya station at 12:28pm, took Nagoya railway train to headed to the station where my grandma lives nearby. Walked with my brother to visit a hospital, meet with my brother's wife who just gave a birth of a baby boy. They are doing pretty well, I now see that why my mom was saying weird that his hands and fingers are moving. That's pretty funny. The baby was quiet overall, which is a good, healthy sign. I took picture of him and the parents.

Since I did not want to make grandma worry, I left the hospital around headed to see grandma. She was doing okay. I told her what I heard from the doctor this morning, and other stuffs. My brother soon arrived and join the conversation. My grandma really wanted us to stay for meal, so we ate some sushi with her before heading back.

Maki Sushi Chirashi Sushi

Dinner at home

Left grandma's house around 17:45, then headed to Nagoya station via Meitetsu, where I can switch train to Nagoya City Transit system. My brother got off at a station where he lives nearby to get a bottle of wine, I arrived to home around 19:00, dinner started since then. My dad cooked a Japanese beef steak, it was very soft. The wine, as my dad expected, had a bit of rusty color so it was not like something I tasted before... I cannot say whether it was good, or bad. We just talked for a while, and I get to hear my dad's some mistake he made while he was in Europe as an assignee. Like he finished a while bottle at hotel's restaurant and had very hard time going back to the room, or hang out with someone he does not know in France and drunk, get robbed. My, my, my... My brother headed back home around 9:30pm, For the rest of the evening, I typed up trip note a bit, while finishing up packing. I went to bed around 11:00pm. I am going back to the U.S. tomorrow. I just remembered that wrist watches from Japanese people have disappeared... Maybe their cell phone become so convenient.

2008/9/21 Coming back to the U.S.

Going to the airport

Woke up at 5:00am, about the same time as my dad wakes up. Went outside before breakfast and felt a light rain was coming down. Had the breakfast my dad cooked, and then finished packing my bags. I was hoping I could fit everything into a bag but I guess not. Around  8:00am, I wanted to print out a picture of my brother's family on my dad's PC, I had to figure out how to do that. Rain started to fall so made me worry that today might be a rainy day after all. To make things worse, there seems to be an earthquake in Tokyo area while I was watching a TV news. What's up with Japan?!

Around 9:30am I left home after shaking hand with my dad, walked to a bus stop to get on the one coming at 9:43am. The bus came just about on schedule. Got off to visit the hospital my mom's in. I walked into the building around 10:00am, told the security that I wanted to see her before heading to the U.S. I very much did the same thing to nurses at the floor. I entered my mom's room, told her about what happened yesterday. I also gave her 4 more CDs which I bought for her yesterday. We just talked a few more. Around 10:45am, I wrapped up the talk, shook my hand with my mom. My mom told me that she's okay with me not marrying to a girl right now, and okay with me choosing my career as I wish, and asked me to take care of my dad. I could not hold my tears flowing. I did not want to cry in front of her but I just could not hold it. Why, why, why, if I could keep studying while I was in school, what if I decided to come home after graduating from the college, could the lives of my mom and me so much different? I wanted to talk to her more, I wanted to spend my time with my mom while I was studying in the U.S. or working, not just half hour each over the weekend. If I could do that, I cannot imagine how much I could know more about her. Later I wrote to my friend, there is no "could", "should've" or "would've", only I get is "do" and "did". This is what I am getting right now...

I took elevator down to the ground floor, watching outside a bit raining. Just remembered that I forgot to retrieve my running shorts, I called my dad, he also noticed it too. Hahaha. Went down to the subway station, went to Motoyama station around 11:00am and arrived to Nagoya at 11:30am. It's time for me to go.

Nozomi 12 Nagoya(11:53am - Tokyo(1:33pm)

I tried to buy a ticket to Narita Airport. I already had a boarding ticket so I needed to get the reserved seat. While I was waiting for my turn to buy ticket in a line, I get to see the status of the trains. The one leaving at Nagoya around 11:30am was leaving with a few minutes too late to buy the ticket, and I was told the next train, Nozomi 12 was coming late due to hard rain. There is nothing I can do about it, so I just bought the ticket to get a ride to Nozomi 12, hoping there is not much delay.

I was at the platform around 11:40am, bought my lunch then found out that the Nozimi 12 is late due to the weather and halted operation near Kokura once, and now late by 30 minutes. I guess it won't arrive until 12:20pm Oops. Even now, I get to see some rain coming down hard... Makes me worried that the last time, the train I was heading to Tokyo to catch flight was delayed due to rain. I hope it is not going to affect me this time. Again, nothing I can do so I ate my lunch at waiting room.

Misokatsu & Ebifuryah- The contents
Sign showing that Nozomi 12 delayed for 30 min... Nozomi 12 finally arrived to Nagoya at 12:28pm

Suddenly, I found out that there is Nozomi 80, departing Nagoya at 12:10pm, maybe I can get there faster so I went downstairs to check availability of the seat, but it was sold out. Nozomi 12 came in around 12:28pm, and to makes me upset, the sky became brighter just minutes before arrival. The train left in a hurry, even making the Hikari at next platform wait. Once get inside, I took a seat in aisle side, so I did not get to see the outside much...I fell sleep after passing Atami, woke up near Shin Yokohama. Rain started again near Yokohama, and the train moved on, getting close to Tokyo and I got ready for disembarking. I was standing with my bags by the door, get to see brick building of Tokyo station, arrived at 2:00pm.

Narita Express 31 Tokyo(2:33pm) - Narita Airport(3:25pm)

Narita Express 31 at Tokyo station

I went to a ticketing window on the way going down to the platform 4 levels below the ground. I paid 1,660 Yen for a reserved seat to Narita Airport. When I arrived to the station, it was a bit early so a rapid train was at the platform. After it left, it was just quiet. My train, Narita Express 31 came in to the platform with the first half at 2:28pm soon the second part come in around 2:30pm, so I can get in. Took a seat in the car, and train departed at 14:33 on time. When the train reached to the surface, the outside was still under rain. The rain water covered up the window and I could see outside in blurred image. Nothing special, but kinda quiet myself... Arrived at Narita Airport Terminal 2 at 15:25 on time. I went upstairs for departing process.

AA154 NRT(5:45pm JST) - ORD(3:25pm CDT)

Once I checked bags in, and received boarding tickets, I can take a breath. I called my brother to let him know that I arrived at the airport, then headed to airport mall to check out stuffs I can buy. I always wanting to buy a Seiko wrist watch, but I did not buy this time again. Instead, I bought some Japanese magazines. Passed security check at 4:00pm, and passport control. I arrived at the gate by 4:15pm. The outside was still raining. I wonder when it will stop.

AA154 at Narita Airport Taxing under rain, dark sky

Waited until 5:10pm when boarding starts. Called my dad to let him know that I am leaving Japan, and also another friend who I could not get hold of him last week. The plane pushed back at 5:40pm, the rain seems to be stopped, finally. The plane taxing toward the runway, and took off in the air at 6:00pm, I could see some lights from Narita City, then the plane headed to the east.

American Otsumami Dinner


Right after takeoff, the entertainment system of the plane went all black. Oops. They told us that it will take 45 minutes to reboot. It was just after I thought I have seen a flash of lightning, the air was a bit turbulent for about one hour then finally become a bit better. The dinner was served at 7:45pm, they only had a choice so I had a chicken. After the dinner, I fell sleep for a while since entertainment system does not work anyway, the only issue is that I left the book light on and I cannot manually turn it off...

Passed Anchorage at 10:45pm in Japan time, I could not see the ground since it was cloud covered, but I could see the horizon getting brighter from the Sun. The plane flew alright and passing nearby Winnipeg, Canada around 3:25am, and the breakfast was served at 4:00am in Japan time. The plane is getting close to Chicago, I get to see it flies over Madison, WI. At 2:40pm in Chicago, the plane begins initial descending. The plane landed after a long flight, and arrived at the gate at 3:30pm.

Flying over Madison, WI Humidity makes everything hazy

I had to be in a line for immigration for a quite long time since there were a couple of more planes landing at that time. I get my new visa checked, and granted for entry.

AA4362 ORD(5:10pm) - DTW(7:35pm)

I proceeded to the baggage claim, and saw airport staffs already started to removing bags from the line. I find my stuffs quick and picked them up, passed the customs with no problem. Gave my bags to the bag transfer station around 4:00pm and headed to the exit.

I jumped on a train system to move to a new terminal for the connecting flight to Detroit. I only know it is going to be at terminal G, so I got off at the first stop, and walked toward the security around 4:25pm. The boarding should start soon but I am sure I will make it. I pulled out my cell phones, turned them on. Passed security with no problem, but a guy nearby me was trying to pass the gate with only itinerary, should have get the ticket...

AA4362 at Chicago O'Hare

I bought a sandwich and a bottle of water on the way to the gate. People were already waiting at the gate, and everything seems to be smooth, the boarding started without a hitch at 4:50pm, and took off into the air at 5:30pm in Chicago time. the plane headed to the north, and then I fell sleep. Next time when I wake up, the plane was approaching to the airport, I get to see the Sun still in the sky, but almost coming down. The plane landed at 7:25pm at Detroit, taxied to the new terminal. The American Airlines has the south end portion so I had to walk a while to get to the baggage claim. I hope they will add more moving walkway... Waited for a while to have the bags start coming out. I was one of very first ones to receive them. Okay, I am ready to go home.

Sun going down on the horizon AA4362 arrived at new north terminal

Coming back to home

After picking up my bags, I went two levels up to the third floor to access the blue deck, took an elevator down to the first floor, chatting with another customer about the new terminal which both of us are not familiar with. Paid $120 for the parking (did the price increased already? I thought it was $10 when I pulled my car in...?), drove in a dark road back to my apartment, arrived there at 8:40pm, I had to unpack, take care of my room a bit to get ready for the new week. Since I have bought enough stuffs before I left, I did not have to go to Meijer for groceries, nor gas, which was still almost full. Went to bed around 11:00pm after calling my dad.



Go to Home / Top / My mom's final days (#1: Hospitalization / #2: Surgery / #3 Visa Renewal / #4 Homecoming / #5 New Year / #6 Funeral / Extra: Hatsubon)