Japan Trip 2008 Part 5 - New Year


My trip planning began back in August after learning my mom has a cancer. I started to shop around and found a round trip ticket from Detroit to Narita for $1622.80, then I modified the search by changing the destination to Nagoya, which is my hometown. Although it will add flights between Narita and Nagoya, the price actually dropped to $1548.20. I hoped to buy it but waited until the current billing cycle for the credit card to end, so I don't have to pay too early. I bought the ticket on August 22nd. The saving will be $80 from tickets, and another $260 for the transportation between Narita Airport and Nagoya. The trade off is that I will be arriving home a bit later than normally I do... The website for Nagoya city transit shows that they are operating on holiday schedule during 12/29 - 1/3, meaning that fewer trains and buses are available but I can use Donichi Eco Kippu (One Day Pass only for weekends, which is cheaper).

2008/12/25-26 Going to Japan

Going to the airport

I could not stay sleep over night so I got up many times. I guess I was worrying about missing the plane, or feeling the temperature dropping outside. I heard noise around 3:00am which sounded like someone struggling to get the car out off the lot, soon the noise stopped and a guy came out from the car and went back to his apartment. It raised a big concern for me that since we had some rain last night and temperature dropped below freezing level, it may be a sign that the surface is too slick to drive. I cannot miss the flight today... While I was thinking about it, there was another car coming back from outside the apartment around 3:30am, so I guess the road outside may not be too bad.

To take precaution, I decided to get up earlier than I originally planned so I got up from the bed at 3:45am, giving myself some extra time. I stretched my body and took a shower. The outside temp was at 22F, according to the internet. It also showed that Chicago is at 0F. Oh my... Because of what I saw, I wanted to check the outside condition so I carried one of the bags with myself to save a trip. I found out that the car failed to pull out from the lot was using salt rocks to melt the ice, well, it won't help. The guy should have used newspaper, or old lugs instead. Otherwise everything looks okay to me, only hope that the road to the airport is also okay. I tried to open the passenger side door but the lock was frozen, so I had to bring all the stuffs from driver's side. One good thing was that the rain did not coat ice over the car so it was ready to go. I went back to room again to get another bag. I left my apartment at 4:50am, after I made sure that I unplugged my PC and related appliances, as well as setting thermostat at the lowest.

The car started okay and waited for a couple of minutes for the car to warm up. I pull out the car from the lot without a problem. I drove carefully to the exit of the apartment property since the road was solid frozen. Once I get on the regular road, I could drive much easier except for the flurries still coming down. The road was dry and clear of snow or ice for most of the location. Once I get on the freeway, I was driving a bit slower than the legal limit due to concern on the road condition. I could see some parts are looking slick so had to slow down over the bridge and others. Very few cars on the road. I think I saw moving traffic of less than 50 total. Getting off at Middle Belt road, arriving to the parking at 5:40am. I parked my car, and pull out all the bags and waited for a shuttle to come. Got a ride to the airport and I made it to the check in counter by 6:00am.

To Chicago: AA1483 DTW(8:20am EST) - ORD(8:50am CST)

I checked in my bags and passed the security. Then I headed to the gate, picking up some magazines on the way and reached there by 6:20am. The surrounding is decorated for the Christmas a bit. Some balloons, figures of nutcracker. Since I got there early, the plane was not there yet. Not many people around, but hearing some may have stayed in Detroit over night due to weather condition at Chicago and other places. The flight to DFW seems to be overbooked. People being asked for either taking the following flight, or going there via Chicago.

Not many people traveling on Christmas Day AA1483 at DTW

I just kick back and relax until my turn to board. It's nice that they have a pretty big flatscreen TVs at the lounge. The news such as an plane stuck at a side of runway at ORD, and FedEx is being available for package pickup on today (although it's a holiday today) to accommodate any delayed gift packages. The snow's been a big issue for the past few days. I also checked emails but nothing turned up so far. I will try to check again in Chicago. The sun was coming up as I was waiting. It was well passed the original boarding time of 7:55am, it started at 8:10am at gate 28. I had to make a line at jet bridge but a little tough to do since it is pretty cold outside. After taking a seat, I saw snow still falling. The plane departed at 8:30am, but had to wait on the pavement for a while due to traffic condition at Chicago O'Hare. The condition there maybe still bad. The plane started to move again after 10 minutes of wait, actually I was taking a nap during that time because I was relieved from the tense morning traffic.

The plane took off to south on runway 22L at 9:00am and it cleared low cloud quick. Now I can very much enjoy the sun light for the rest of flight. The plane continued to fly west but I was not quite sure where I was heading, because of the overcast cloud preventing to see the geography. Once it started to come down, I could see it approached from the northeast of Chicago, flew by the north of downtown. Some portion of the lake was frozen. The plane landed at 8:50am CST on time, and taxied to the gate and arrived at 9:00am. The jet bridge was having trouble moving so it took another 10 minutes before we can get out of the plane.

Sun already coming up Finally departing from DTW
Flying over Michigan Lake Chicago Downtown Landed at O'Hare airport

AA153 ORD(11:05am CST) - NRT(3:15pm JST on Dec 26th)

Once I arrive to Chicago, I needed to take care of few businesses. First I dropped off mails to pay rent and return DVDs. Then I went to a store selling Cinnabon which I bought a smaller kinds called Cinnabon Bite. I wanted my dad to taste them since he used to talk about it. I had no intention buying anything at duty free stores. Once I get to the gate, I had about 20 minutes before the boarding start. I wanted to get the list of music played at a radio station since yesterday so I tried to access the smooth Jazz site but it was not working properly... I made a couple of calls while I wait. I thought it maybe too early but I get to talk with them. While I wait, a crew at the gate announced that there is no need to make a line for standby seats since the flight is fully booked. It's a kind of nasty way to say...

Holiday decorations at the airport AA153 at Chicago O'Hare

The boarding for the flight started on time at 10:20am at gate K-19. Since I have Platinum membership for American Airlines, I can start boarding right after they take care of first and business class passengers. I took my seat, relaxing and watched activities outside such as crews putting in palletized cargos to the plane. I have seen them pushing the containers to the loader with belt conveyer cars... What in the heck?! Before departure, the plane need to get de-iced, so we had to wait for a while, now we are well passed scheduled departure time. The captain was saying he is trying to find out how long it will take more... He also mentioned that the flight is expected to be bumpy so we will take the best path possible. Finally the plane get pushed back from the gate at 11:45am. The plane proceeded to runway 28, took off at 12:00pm. After making a couple of right turns, to change heading to north.

The plane kept going up north, fly passing nearby Duluth, MN around 12:50pm. The air got a bit shaky. FL320, with ground speed of 600mph at -57C. The plane kept going up north more than usual. Most of the time, the plane fly by Minneapolis, MN but not this time. It flew north of Winnipeg, then lunch (beef and rice) was served around 1:30pm. The plane is flying at FL340, with ground speed of 520mph, at -55C. By 4:00pm, it arrived to Great Bear Lake at FL360, 528mph, -56C. The sky is getting dark also. The plane flew along the north edge on Alaska, and I have seen lights from a small town under dark (I believe it is Prudhoe, AK) at 5:40pm located north of Fairbanks and cloud peak. 7 more hours to Tokyo.

A snack was served at 6:00pm CST while flying at FL380 and passing the International Date Line. The place reached to Siberia at 7:00pm, where is pretty much all snow covered and I could see the ocean is very much coated with ice. I could barely see the coast line. It flew for about 1.5 hours before reaching to the Gulf of Shelekhova. The outside is at -60C... I thought I should take a nap so I was trying to sleep until the air gets turbulent around 10:00pm. Reached to Hokkaido at 11:15pm CST, but I could not see much due to overcast sky. I checked the map and showed the plane flew by Asahikawa city. Lunch was served and I picked chicken and mushroom rice. Flew east of Miasma at 11:50pm, flew by Sendai at 12:15am near Iwaki city, the descending started. The route for the approach was same as usual. It flew to off shore, then turn around to the north. I could see at least three other aircraft going to Narita. Turning around, reached to the shore at 3:47pm, and flew straight to the airport and landed at 3:53pm. The plane taxied to the terminal and arrived at the gate at 4:07pm. I had to wait for the tern to get off. Since I will be going through immigration at Nagoya, I just walk to the international departure security screening. However, since the plane arrived very late, people for the connecting flights to Bangkok and Taipei are given priority and other people had to wait for a while. After passing the security, walked upstairs then took a tram to the main terminal. Arrived at the gate 61 at 5:00pm, I was hungry so I walked around to get myself a rice ball and bottle of tea.


Arriving At Siberia Siberial Mountains Gulf of Shelekhova  
Hokkaido Sendai    


  AA153 arrived to Narita International Airport

AA5826 NRT(6:30pm) - NGO(7:50pm)

I ate dinner while I wait for the flight (I had a boxed snack from AA flight to Narita, and a rice ball I bought at a store in the terminal), then updated my journal on my iPod touch. Notes function working pretty nice, except for I need to turn on every time and some spelling recognitions. I was watching CNN on the TV at the lounge. They were reporting of declining in ticket sales in New York Broadway shows. Maybe I should go see them play while the tickets are cheap!

Boarding should started from 6:00pm but it was delayed by 10 minutes, they invited the priority access from the start so I was getting into the plane as the 5th person. The seat I was assigned, which was 23K, was just by the right engine for B767-200 so my view was partially blocked. The plane was pushed back at 6:40pm, taxied toward the runway but had to wait for the turn to takeoff with several other planes. The actual takeoff time was at 7:10pm which was just as the captain told us, nice... He also told us that NGO reporting the temperature of 4C. Expecting some turbulence en route. The plane took off to north, then turn clockwise around the airport as climbing and finally off to southwest, passing by south of Tokyo. I get to see the all the lights.

The plane was flying fairly well, so no need for worry about the turbulence. I felt tired so I was taking short naps. Passing Toyohashi, and flying south of Himaka Island now I see a rotating beacon from the airport, then the plane made right turn heading north to get aligned with the approach for the NGO, Since I am sitting on the starboard, I could see the lights of Minamichita area. The plane approached from the south, and landed at 8:05pm. The plane then taxied for a short period of time and arrived at the gate. I walked out from the plane to proceed to the immigration. I was at the baggage claim waiting for my bags by 8:20pm. It took a while to retrieve my bags, but finally came out. The custom caught me to check bags because many Japanese universities are having issue with drugs. If I am from the U.S., carrying big bags and I live such a long time with record of going back and forth of Mexico why not, huh?

AA5826 departing at night I can see Narita Airport terminal Tokyo area at night I can see Tokyo Broadcasting Tower

To my home (NGO -> Nagoya -> Home)

Rental cell phone Train leaving after dropping me off

At the customs, they asked if they can search my bags after they found out that I live in the U.S. for such a long time and making frequent visit Mexico. They thought I was a drug dealer or something... While they check, they ask me whether if I have a gun, drugs and so on. (I am like, hey, what are you talking about?!) In addition, they asked me whether I have ever smoke pot (oh, come on!). So, I just replied that I care about my health very much because I run marathons. They are like, oh, wrong kind of guy... So they let me go. After getting off from the customs, I headed to a store for rental cell phone, which I already made a reservation. They took a copy of my passport but this time it is also my Japanese address page. Recently a bunch of collage student in Japan was arrested for smoking pot and other illegal drugs. So they heightened security or something.

Once I received the cell phone, I called home as I was carrying my bags toward the ground transportation area. My mom picked it up and I told her that I arrived to the airport okay and heading home at the moment. I walk toward Meitetsu ticketing counter. Since I learned how to get around last time, I purchased the ticket from a vending machine. It was nice that I can pick the train (I picked the one leaving at 8:50pm), and also preference of window and aisle seat. I got a ticket for car #3 and at window side. Cool. So I walked to the gate and headed to the platform. I realized I have 5 minutes, enough time to buy a drink so I made a short stop at a vending machine to get a tea. I got onboard and then the train headed for Nagoya. The limited express 411 departed at 8:50am and arriving Nagoya at 9:19pm. (If I look back, I was lucky because today was the last day for Panorama Car to operate and a ceremony was held at Jingu Mae station at 9:40pm...)

Pass the gate for subway around 9:25pm, soon a train came and I was able to get on because it arrived almost empty despite of the large number of people waiting. The train was crowded maybe from end of year parties. However, I did not smell much alcohol from people. I am not sure if it reflects the economy in Nagoya today. Arrived to the station I was getting off at 9:55pm. I bought a couple of Donichi Eco Kippu (Weekend One Day Pass) at the counter then headed upstairs for the bus. I had to be in a line for about 5 minutes then a bus came. The driver was driving like a crazy. I am not sure what's up with him. I got off at the nearest stop, and walked home. I come home around 10:30pm, took a shower then went to bed at 11:00pm.

[First Snow Reported for this winter in Nagoya]


I woke up at midnight, then I could not fall back sleep and the morning came. I got out of the bed at 6:00am, it was pretty cold compare to air conditioned room in Detroit. (It was -1C according to the news in the evening...) I went to my mom's room to turn the heater and air purifier ON. Stretched my body and get readied for today. I said good morning to my dad and mom. Had breakfast, which my dad cooked, from 7:00am together. Did the dishes until 9:00am. I called my grandma after that then also my brother to let them know that I get home okay, and to make arrangement for the tea tomorrow's tea party.

I went out for buying some groceries at 11:00am, I bought some vegetables, and other stuffs. We had a lunch together, and I washed dishes. Headed to get haircut at 1:30pm, and I come back home at 2:00pm. The lady at the haircut was saying that despite of being near the end of the year, she has not seen much people wanting to get their hair trimmed. I am not sure whether it was due to the economy. I updated my journal after coming back home. Had tea around 3:00pm, later I left home around 4:00pm for a short running. It was getting dark, and chilly outside already. I come home and took a quick shower. Had dinner together, and I went to bed around 10:00pm to give myself some rest. I did not get to sleep last night.

2008/12/28 Family Tea Party

Woke up at 3:40am in the morning, but stayed in bed until 6:00am. I could hear sound of mopeds of newspaper delivery running around while I wait for the dawn, Get out and stretched my body. The daily low of 3C so it was not cold as yesterday. I went to living room and turned the heater and air purifier on for mom. We had breakfast a bit after 7:00am. Did the dishes and had to make some green teas since my mom drinking a lot more than usual...

Going to library

I left for Chikusa library at 9:30am, I walked just like when I was little. Unlike taking a bus, I can take a short cut also. The weather was partly cloudy, with some breeze. Arrived there few minutes after 10:00am and checked the database on PC to see if they have the books I want. Unfortunately, they did not have them. I guess have to try a bigger library then. One thing I noticed was that because the last time when I visit was more than 10 years ago, I felt the place is a lot smaller than I imagined. Maybe because I get used to the big library in the university in Kansas. They will be closed from tomorrow for the holiday so I had to give up any further search for the book. Walked out from the building, then move to Mitsukoshi department store, bought several music CDs (for my mom to listen while she is back in the hospital, I hope I picked some good one). I also grabbed a couple of books before heading back home. I walked back to home since the weather is nice, and came home about 10 minutes before the noon. Watched the weather, and news on the TV while having lunch. Did the dish and now I need to start thinking about the afternoon then.

Afternoon Tea Time

Prepared the living room for visitors. It took me a while to just get things down right. I have to vacuum and used wet lug to clean the room. My grandma came around 2:30pm, my brother's family came around 3:00pm. We had tea and a piece of cake (from a nearby bakery, a cheese cake). My sister in law brought flowers for mom, and a homemade cheese cake. During the time, I was making and serving teas, bringing out dishes and glasses and cups. My grandma left home around 4:00pm, then follow by my brother's family around 5:00pm. I had to wash dishes afterward. I was getting sleepy because of the jet lag. Hard to keep attention on what I am doing...

In the evening, I checked out the CDs I bought for my mom (well, they are still my properties, though...), and while waiting for the dinner, I fell sleep and I woke up as I hear my dad telling mom, "Hey, look. He's sleeping"... For the dinner, I took a seat but did not have much apatite. My dad was making Shabushabu, a Japanese style which cook thin sliced beef in boiled water, I was not feeling well, maybe because I was tired. Finish washing dishes at 8:30pm, I was reading newspaper but decided to go bed around 9:00pm today. I need some rest.

2008/12/29 Going to Sakae

I woke up at 2:00am once, then woke up again at 5:30am, hearing an alarm clock making noise from dad's room. Looks like he cannot hear it. So I get up and woke him up. This is the second time I am doing this... I finally got myself out of the bed at 6:00am, had breakfast together. Today was a bit relaxing so I had a time to read newspaper for a while. In the morning, news was covering that a computer glitch causing certain Shinkansen (bullet train) lines (Hokuriku, Joetsu, & Tohoku) halt since the start of operation today. Many people finished up working and ready to come home and took about 3 hours before recovery. My dad wanted me to fix a home appliance so I was troublechasing for about 2 hours from 8:00am,.  After taking a look at appliance, I told my dad that we need to check for the wiring. After that, I headed out for workout from 10:00am, I also stopped by at a grocery store on the way back home. I also bought a loaf of bread which was just came out from an oven. I walked back home and had lunch together with my dad and mom after taking a quick shower. I finish washing dishes around 1:15pm

I planned to go to Sakae for shopping so I left home after lunch. Got a ride on a bus and subway and arrived to Sakae. I went to a CD store called Ongakudo and picked several CDs for my mom. I stayed there until 2:30pm then later I went up to the ground level to walk toward Nadia Park, where I can buy some books and CDs. The outside was busy as usual I have to walk carefully. People tend to get upset easy during this near end of the year days from the stress. The CD store used to be called Yamagiwa now operated under Softmap, I bought a CD then only to find that the book store in the building was gone. It was replaced with outdoor gear store. So I walked to a nearby large bookstore called Maruzen, and shocked to find out they don't carry it either. Before leaving Sakae, I stopped by one at the underground shopping mall, they did carry one. I am happy. I caught a train and come back to Hoshigaoka around 3:40pm, they took a bus back to home. I came back by 4:00pm.

After taking a short break, I walk to a nearby DIY store called HiAce, to buy a digital multimeter. When I come home after 5:00pm, I worked on the appliance which my dad was complaining but found no issue. I went upstairs to check, the unit works fine when I shook it, so I guess the thermostat or relay was bad. It's working for now... Updated the blog until dinner

Watched news and got a report for today's weather was low of 2C and high of 13C. It was not so bad. They also say that the first three days of the new year to be very much winter like. So I should get ready for it. Left home around 8:00pm to get my laundry dried , called a couple of friends while I wait. walked back to my home around 9:00pm. I had a hot bath at 9:30pm, stayed in bed to keep myself warm Went to sleep after 10:00pm.


I woke up around 1:00am once, realizing that room light is still on. I must have fallen asleep as I was thinking of something. I fell sleep again and I woke up at 5:30am, because my dad does not wake up with the sound of alarm clock again. Finally getting up at 6:00am, and turned on the heater and air purifier as usual. Had breakfast together, and took care of the dishes by 8:30am. I began to clean the kitchen until noon. My friend called me back while I was cleaning a fridge. We just made an appointment to meet after new year.

We had lunch together, Left home at 2:00pm, to walk to HiAce to buy water proof table cover for dining table. Walked back home once, then left again for Seiyu for grocery shopping and followed by at a bakery for my dads favorite bread. Come home around 4:00pm, cleaned a couple of drawer then checked contents of the fridge I found some items left for such a long period of time. After that, I was relaxing at living room and updating the blog for a while.

End of the year party

I was thinking that the part should be starting from 7:30pm so I did not realize my friends are gathering at the restaurant until one of them called and asked me where I was. So I left home at 7:00pm and walked to the restaurant. It was my first time going there. Inside of the store, their is a small retailing store for casual bags and clothes addition to the dining area. We went upstairs and had no body else. We ate some meals but the amount of the food is not much, but we had good chat and had a good time. We were expecting one regular member but he is having family reunion, and drunk. So, we just decided to drive up there. We left the restaurant by 9:30pm, picked up the friend and settled in at a cafe called Yeast Paradise. It rained a bit after 11:00pm just as we are arriving. We stayed until 12:15am, then share a ride back to each other's house. I came home at 12:50am We shared Mochi (rice cake) which my friend's family made along the way.

For the cost, 4,000 Yen, for Acquavita and another 1,000 Yen for Yeast Paradise. Pays off with a good talk.

2008/12/31 New Year's Eve

New Year's eve is usually the busiest day of the year. I woke up at 5:00am and stayed in bed until 6:00am. I did not get enough sleep because I came home late last night... Had breakfast with my dad and mom at 7:00am. I took the dishwashing portion then I took a break. Went out for jogging at 9:40am, for about 30 minutes. It was sunny and breezy but not at the level that I have to complain about the cold air. It was a good run. When I ran along a park, I saw many parents and kids having fun times. I only see a couple of runners... When I get back, I cleaned a couple more stuffs and then headed to a senior care home to meet with my grandma (dad's side). I brought some change of clothes and some snacks. I have been informed that of 8 residents of the room, no one will be able to spend their new year with family at home. Everybody seems to be old, but they still can talk and stuff. The only person always at bed is my grandma, who does not recognize me for more than 5 years for now. Her eyes do not focus anymore, respond a bit but sounds coming out from her mouth is far from words. Walked back home, stopped by at a bicycle store where I always talk with the owner, who is around 70.Called my brother to check on what he is planning to do tomorrow. He is still printing new years card but telling me that his PC having trouble.

Had lunch with my parents, another bread day with my dad's favorite hams. I prepared some lettuces for him since he has no habit of eating vegetables. Did the dishes and left home around 1:30pm for grocery shopping at Seiyu. Not too crowded as my dad was complaining of too many people in the morning when he went to Mitsukoshi department store. I had to wait in a line for the casher, which had more store staffs available than normal. Walking back home around 2:00pm. I bought some green onions, slices beef, tofu, shiitake mushrooms for Sukiyaki. Took a break a bit in the afternoon, then I left home again around 3:00pm to check out my friends from elementary school. I tried to located a couple of them but only get to talk with family member at two houses. I could not see my former classmates. Coming home, updated my journal.

During my visit home I see tears on my moms eyes sometimes. I saw them in the morning of the day after I come home, and also this afternoon. I'm not sure what is the reason. Is she dreaming because she is awake at a moment but not in the moments later. She some times complained that she had dream of my grandma brushing the deck with banana skin and my mom was telling grandma to stop it, other time she was in home and surrounded by a pack of monkeys. I am getting the presence of monkey somewhat indicated my grandma... As an adult, I feel sorry about my mom had to go through such tough life. It grandma was a daughter of city mayor and her uncle was a school principle so she very much had no enemy, everybody treated her. She even told me about the camera my grandpa had was actually what my mom bought. He liked it so much and had exchanged with a cheaper one which he offered. My, I just don't like those abuse of power relationship in Japan... Oh, by the way, the tears, I think it maybe due to pains.

For the evening, we had dinner from 6:30pm. My dad wanted sukiyaki so we had them together then followed by a bowl of black wheat noodle which is a Japanese tradition for the last day of each year to eat. By 7:30pm the dinner was over and I started to wash the dishes. The news says that for today weather, the daily high was at 9C with 1C as low, expecting 0C in the morning tomorrow (the high maybe as low as at 7C). My dad and I have plan to go to a Japanese shrine in the morning.

(In the news today, Toshikoshi Haken-mura was covered. Since the economy down tone

We usually watch Kohaku Utagassen (Singing showdown, battle of sex) in the night but this year my mom's sick and my grandma is in a senior care home so no one is interested. I don't know what's going on in Japan so I have no idea either. Prepared a hot bath and I think I will go bed after that. I missed a lot of sleep last night. Checked all the expenses for the family so far.
Took a hot bath at 8:45pm for 15 minutes. It was such a long year not only because we had a leap year but mentally or psychologically long... I am not sure what I am going to do next year. Went to bed after the bath. Fall sleep around 10:00pm the room was quite cold so I was staying inside of the bed for a while

2009/1/1 New Year's Day

Going to Japanese Shrine

Woke up at 5:00am with a help of an alarm clock function on the cell phone, turned on heater and air purifier at my mom's room. Stretched my body then headed to a Japanese shrine with my dad from 6:30am. Takamu Shrine, one of the closest to my house, is the one usually we go. In a cold, quiet morning, the pavement on overpass was frosted so the temperature must be around 0C. It was not windy so was easy to walk. Walking with my dad under still mostly dark sky. I can tell the sun is coming out as the sky gets brighter. While walking toward the shrine, I get to see many changes in the neighbors... When I was little, I attend Omatsuri (fall festival) every year and walked around the community with many other children with Mikoshi over shoulder...

Arrived at the shrine, washed hands and rinsed my mouth. Then proceeded to the building with my dad. You have to follow the procedure as follows. Throw in a coin, bow twice, clap your hands twice then make wishes, for this year I cared about my mom's and dad's health, and my brothers family. Oops I forgot to part anything for my grandma. Once I am done, I clap my hands twice again, then I can walk away from the building. I do not typically believe Japanese Shinto gods bit I respect them.

At the entrance of shrine, you will see Torii Shrine building

Walking back home, in a much brighter outside I saw a Nissan dealer with fukubukuros so I took a picture of it. My guess is probably some Nissan merchandise like shirts, jackets and maybe umbrella. Coming home, had a casual but traditional kinds of meal with a phrase, "Akemashite Omesetou Gozaimasu, a happy new year in Japanese." I guess I should be happy about my mom still being at home alive. I ate stuffs like Datemaki (Rolled Egg), Kobumaki (Seaweed wrap), Kamaboko (Fishcake), Kazunoko (Fish Eggs), Zouni (soup with rice cake), and Tatsukuri (Marinated Fishes) but none drink sake this time. Very much done everything by 9:00pm. Washing traditional wooden cups are so hard since I cannot use dish soaps or sponge. Took me a good half hour washing them in warm water. When everything is done, it was 10:30am. I still have time before my brother's family visit us so I read newspaper a bit, and updated my blog a bit.

You won't get 370Z from this Fukubukuro, but may get some goodies...


At noon, we checked out the news on TV, nothing special going on except for jobless people from Haken (contract based short term working) being helped out by volunteers. The rest of the programs are pretty boring to me. My brother called us around 1:00pm about the plan to come in around 1:30pm. We had a small ceremony called "Okuizome" for their baby to wish he will be bless for no shortage for food. It is something to be done at 100th day after birth. We ate very much the same kinds of  for meal, and my sister-in-law also cooked mix of few stuffs so we also tried that. We opened up a wine, Beaujolas-Villages Nouveau, for the lunch. Since I was sitting in Seiza form, my legs cannot feel anything and I had trouble standing up. Ouch. They left around 3:00pm then I called my grandma to let her know that I am visiting tomorrow. Also a friend in Sendai, and another friend who studied together at WSU. My grandma mistook me as my brother. Finished washing the dishes, then cleaning up stuffs around the living room. The tips of my fingers Started to crack because of many hours of water related assignments. my moms fingers Always looked like that during winter.

When I took out laundry for drying, I get to see south sky looked pretty bad since dark cloud all over the place. It's calm day. After coming home, my dad came down and complained that he is tired, well, I too. He does not have to do any housework today. Because I am the one working since the morning. I gave him a cup of hot tea instead of arguing. A smart choice, I guess. My had had to go out for a while in the evening so I set the rice cooker for him at 6:00pm. We Had dinner from 7:00pm, very much finished up the leftover. Did the dishes and made some more tea for mom. Tired from everything so I just decided to go bed. I need to be active again tomorrow. So I went to bed by 8:30pm and fell sleep by 9:00pm.

2009/1/2 Visiting my grandma's home. Meeting a friend from high school

Woke up at 5:00am, pretty cold again... Get out from the bed at 6:00am and stretched my body, my right ankle is still hurting a bit from the incident yesterday so I used a bandage to secure it. Turned the heater and air purifier at mom's room as usual, the breakfast was late maybe my dad forget something. So it started from 7:30am instead of  7:00am. On the news, nearly 90,000 people in Aomori prefecture are affected by ruptured water intake pipe since last night. Oh man... I feel sorry for them. I washed the dish, done by 8:50am. I noticed the sky is very much clear, while hand picking persimmons and mandarin oranges. Took a quick shower before leaving home at 10:00am.

Visiting my grandma's house

Train arrived at

Since most of transportation services operate on holiday schedule, I had fewer choice on picking up the bus. The up side is that I can use weekend one day pass which is available with a discounted price (860 Vs. 600.Yen) I was waiting for a bus outside, the air was chilly but sunlight is warming me up. It's not so bad. Took a bus and a subway train to get to Nagoya station. The subway train was a newer one which I have never ridden. It shows N1501 on car serial, so it should be like N1000 series. I passed the gate with Yurica, which can be used at both Meitetsu and Nagoya City transit, took a rapid train in Meitetsu line to the station nearby my grandma's. I walked up from there and arrived there by 11:30pm. While chatting a bit, my aunt and uncle arrived. We had traditional Osechi meal, and I had some beers. We talked a bit of each others and then  the uncle left around 1:45pm, and I had to leave there around 2:00pm. I had an appointment with my friend from high school...

Black beans, fish egg filled sea weed roll Rolled eggs, Red and White fish cakes, Maroons

Meeting with my friend

I had to run back to the station which took me about 15 minutes. During that time, I picked up my cell phone and left message on my friend's phone as I ran. Passed the gate at the station and caught a train just arriving to the station at 2:05pm, after a short hop, arrived at Kanayana station 10 minutes later, It was easy to find my friend because he has not changed much. We walked out from the station and looked around. There was a stage setup nearby and Wadaiko (Japanese drum) demonstration going on. Since it's been a while since the last time we met, and both have free time, we decided to head to places where we used to hang out. First we took a subway heading to Yabacho, to visit Nadia park. He helped me about what's up in Japan so I could pick stuffs easier, like popular game software and so on. Getting out of the building around 3:00pm, and heading to Matsuzakaya department store. The parking lots there were so busy with people coming for shopping, I have seen many cars parked illegally on the street, and getting tickets. My friend had to pick sweets for his wife, so we walked around, along the way, I picked several teas for my mom and dad, and stopped by at a book store at Mitsukoshi Lachic for poem written by Shuntaro Tanikawa. My friend finally picked some at the one in the first floor. Get a ride back to Kanayama around 4:40pm, entered a cafe called St-Marc Cafe to wait his wife to come. I have been told that our school will be switched from technical high school to something else. The name of the school will be changed, too. That sounds a little sad. Soon I got a couple of amasake, then bid farewell around 5:30pm then I head back to home. Arrived to Hoshigaoka a little before 6:00pm and caught a bus leaving at 6:00pm. I came home around 6:20pm.

My dad forget to set the rice cooker to keep it warm so we had a cold rice... From 7:00pm. had dinner together then washed the dishes. I fixed zabuton covers for the living room. I do not like stitching but handled it. My dad complained he is having headache so he took a hot bath first and went to bed. My turn came after that. After I washed my body, I made sure that I turned the gas heater OFF, turned the lights and other appliances are off before going to bed around 10:30pm.

2009/1/3 Getting Ready to go back to the U.S.

Woke up at sometimes over night, I could not fall back sleep after that so I stayed in bed until 6:00am when the alarm clock rang. I got up, went to mom's room to turn the heater and air purifier on. Stretched my body, went outside to get newspaper before the breakfast and had meal with parents from 7:00am. The outside looks sunny but chilly. After the breakfast, I washed the dishes and also exchanged the air inside of the house. For the morning, I was working on my assignments on my PC. I get some packing done before lunch also. The wind is somewhat gusty from the morning, and I can feel air moving inside of the house. Oh well, It's an old building anyway.

Had lunch with dad and mom, this time my dad remember to eat some vegetable with bread. I am glad. So I gladly did the dishes. In the afternoon, I went out to catch my friends but one of them were out, I was able to find the forwarding address for a friend from elementary school. come back home, helped my mom locating classmate list from schools.

Had dinner, then went outside to get laundry dried. I don't really recall what I did the rest of the evening because I was busy packing and my heads keep thinking of my mom. Went to bed by 11:00pm. It was a windy day and sunny weather does not make me feel like warm at all.

2009/1/4 Coming back to the U.S.

Going to airport

Woke up around 2:00am then fell back to sleep. Finally got up at 6:00am, stretched my body and started to pack until the breakfast. Had breakfast together (the last meal?!) and I did the dishes. Finished packing by 9:00am. My brother came around the same time, and we chat until 10:30am with all four of us. I presented about 10 classical music discs to mom. I shook hand with my mom, it was warm, but very dried hand like grandma and her grip was pretty weak, then brother and my dad. My days here is over for this trip. I said out loud "Ittekimasu, or I am going" so that my mom could hear me. Made sure that I have my passport I headed out. It's sunny and warm if I stay under the sun. The bus came on time, arrived at Hoshigaoka at 10:53am, catching a train leaving the station at 10:57am. I was at the platform for Meitetsu after buying a ticket to Centrair. The express #312 left at 11:31am, and arrived to the airport at 12:06pm. On the way, the sky was clear and sun was bright enough that makes me sleepy. I get to see the buildings, factories and wind firms along the way.

Train #312 at Nagoya station

The train arrived okay, I went to a store to return the rental cell phone (The total charge this time was 3,980Yen). Since I have plenty of time before check my bags, I decided to go up to the observation deck, as well as checking out some stores there. As I go up to upstairs with an escalator, there is a stage in the front, the area is called Chochin Yokocho (Lantern Street) to the right, ancient Japanese style looking stores selling gifts and also restaurants. To the left, another area which is called Renga Dori (Brick Street) it looks modern day outdoor shopping mall. The restaurants in these places give you higher priority if you have boarding pass. For today, there is a group of people performing Japanese Drum (Wadaiko) as a part of new year's festival. I went outside and watched airplanes departing from the airport for a short while, then decided to to check in counter.

Trains at Centrair terminal New Year's greeting at Centrair.

At the ticketing, my deicer was taken away because it is a pressurized container which not used for human. Passed security, bought a lunch for myself, finished them in a matter of minutes, relaxing since then. From 1:15pm (Today's low 2/ High: 12)

To Narita: AA5895 NGO(2:05pm JST) - NRT(3:10pm JST)

Observation Deck AA5895 at Gate
Inside of Terminal Vending machines

The boarding started at 1:45pm, as previously announced. JAL is always good with the time. After short period of priority boarding process, I was able to get on the plane. The same kind of plane as the last time, which is B737-200. Because I purchased the ticket through American Airlines, I could not pick the seat I wanted, so I was given a choice between two; one at exit row or at the very end. The latter one was a window seat so I get that one. When I actually took a seat, it was not too bad at all except that the seat does not recline. It was not a problem since the flight taking only one hour. While I wait for departure, the sun light from the outside making me sleepy so I was taking naps. I was feeling relaxing as well, release from the duties.

Plane at south end looking up north Departing Centrair

The plane departed on time, and began taxing down to the south end. The plane took off at 2:20pm to the north, and made left turn to circle around the airport before heading to Narita. As the place taking off from the ground, I had a really strong emotion that I should stay home because I will miss my mom so bad, and still have a lot to talk about. The feeling was, actually stronger than when I left home for a study abroad back in 1996... Since I am sitting on the right hand side of the plane, I was able to see the port of Nagoya, and as well as the one at Yokkaichi. Once the plane started to heading to east, The window only shows the pacific ocean so I did not get to see much. The only thing was we crossed with an ANA plane at Omaezaki, as well as seeing a small pressure system on the way. I was taking naps after that, so I woke up when the plane was getting ready for landing.

Boeing DreamLifter Tokoname Boat Racing Port of Nagoya Another shot
Port of Yokkaichi
Looking at the sun Omaezaki ANA plane Low Pressure System

The plane approached to Narita from the south, landed at 3:00pm on the second runway straight. The plane taxied to a ramp to board on busses. It took us to the terminal, soon I passed the security for international flights. I proceeded to the immigration at 3:40pm, went up stairs to the get to the gate. I was there by 4:00pm after walking around a bit.

Near landing Shuttle bus to the terminal

To Dallas: AA60 NRT(7:00pm JST) - DFW(3:25pm CST)

AA60 at NRT Bose headset provided by American Airlines

The gate for this flight was at 71, so it was in the main building of terminal 2, not at the satellite. I walk to a store to buy some water before heading to the gate. One issue I had was that I could find no empty desk to recharge my PC and iPod. Well, I guess I need to charge my iPod from my PC's battery. I have no choice. While I wait, I decided to check emails and browse internet so I purchased wireless connection subscription for a $5, and I was checking emails and also weather at Detroit. It's 30F and has a freezing rain advisory in effect. I guess I have to prepare for the worst... Finished by 5:15pm. I think I still have about one hour before boarding.

Since I still have the tickets issued by JAL, I need to get AA instead, so I went up to the counter to get them replaced. I have been informed that the boarding should start from 6:15pm. I was later called again around 5:45pm, being told that my seat is upgraded to a business class seat. Oh, man... This is a pretty nice treat! (I always wanted to be in one.) I guess it's time for boarding. I picked up a phone to call home. My mom answered and we talked for a while, trying to encourage her (and this, became the last time I talked her). At the same time, I could hear coughing there, sneezing there... Oh man, I think this one is going to be a nasty one. The actual boarding started from 6:20pm, and thanks to business class seating, I was sitting in the plane by 6:30pm. The seat is comfortable and leg room is great.

The plane pushed back at 7:00pm then took off from 16R at 7:40pm because there were about 6 planes waiting for departure so it was a long wait. Within a few minutes after taking off, the place reached to the shore line while keep climbing. At 8:15pm, the plane reached to FL360, with 250mph on the tail, we are expecting the delay will be cancelled out. According the captain of the plane, a cold front is expected to arriving to Texas area, so the weather maybe gusty when we get there. At 8:44pm, dinner was served. I was watching video program to show Venus and Alps. I think I want to there.

I took easy while flying back to the U.S. Passed international date line around midnight in JST, then reached to the U.S. continent at north of Crescent City, CA at 3:10am, but since the weather was overcast, I could not see the shore. The air was  getting turbulent. I fell back to sleep but woke up at 5:00am, because I could hear noise of breakfast being served. I had cereal and milk the plane now flying over Colorado Rockies at north of Santa Fe, at FL410 at -59C. The plane had to fly very high to avoid bumpy air. Flying near by Amarillo, TX at 5:30am, At 5:35am. the plane started to descend to FL360 as well as collecting the headsets provided. The captain of the plane announced that the condition at DFW is clear but expecting wind from north at 20mph with gust of 25mph. I guess I could be a bit of wild ride.

Flying near Amarillo, TX The plane arrived to DFW

The plane landed at DFW at 3:15pm, the place skidded to side a bit before the both main gears come in contact with the ground. The plane taxied for 5 minutes and arrived at the gate D33 which was at far corner. I had to walk to the immigration for such a long distance... Passing immigration, but had to wait for more than 5 minutes due to the person in front of me taking very long time... with a chat with the officer who is concerned of the economy in the U.S. The officer was very talkative so we chat while the process is going. I was telling her that because I work in Detroit, last time an officer told me good luck, we kinda agreed so when she let me go, the same word came out, good luck. Is this a kind of comedy or something?! I went down stairs to the baggage claim at 3:35pm, but had to wait for the bags to come out which took a good 20 minutes. Passed security at 4:00pm, and walking back to the terminal.

To Detroit: AA2312 DFW(5:50pm CST) - DTW(9:20pm EST)

American Airlines plane with classic paint S-80 with funny burnt(?) mark

Took a SkyLine to the terminal A from D, and walk toward the gate. Arriving at the gate at 4:15pm, but had to I settled myself a few gates away where a free laptop station is located to use my PC. I checked emails for a while then start updating my blog. Today, I have seen many people in uniform walking around the terminal. I guess the change to a new year meaning new assignments for them. The boarding time was changed to 6:45pm so it gave me some extra time. I went to McDonald's to eat my dinner around 5:30pm (which is already 6:30pm in Detroit). While I was waiting, I saw a plane with weird dark marking by its cockpit, the plane had windows opened so I wonder what happened. The sky was getting dark also...

The boarding to the plane started from 6:50pm, since there are so many people gathering around the gate, this could be a full flight. I used priority boarding lane to get in early to secure a spot for my bag on upper compartment. Once I took a seat, I could tell the seat is a lot firmer and smaller than the international business class, so it was not that comfortable, but you know... I just can't spoil myself. I keep hearing that flight attendants asking passengers to put their roller boards on D,E,F side, claiming that it has been expanded. When I had a closer look, yup, I guess they are right about it because the trim of larger bin side looks a lot newer than the other. Since taking up much spaces and taking too long, I see so many frustrated people looking up bins already filled with bags from other people, looking angry, I am pretty sure someday my laptop PC get squished and broken. After such a long time process to get everybody seated and putting baggage, I felt the checked bag fee is forcing people to bring in larger bags inside of cabin.

The plane departed from the gate at 7:20pm, took off to north at 7:40pm. There is not much things to watch since the sky is cloudy. I fell asleep soon so I don't remember much. Next time when I got up, it was at 9:50pm in EST. I could see some lights on the ground at near and far. I think it is getting closer to Detroit. As the plane descending for landing, I could see the clouds looking like cotton candies and being illuminated from the ground. The plane landed at 10:33pm using 22R, far west side of the airport. During the taxi, I see no snow and heard that the temperature is even above 32F. How disappointing. I thought Detroit is much colder than Nagoya... Oh well.

The plane is back in Detroit...

Going home

The plane arrived at the gate at 10:42pm. I got off the plane and walked toward the baggage claim. My bags came out pretty quick so I picked them up and walked away by 11:00pm. I move to the ground transportation terminal for a shuttle bus to the parking. After a short hop, the driver dropped me off but waited until my car can start the engine. Left the parking around 11:30pm and drove to home. Since it was windy, I had a bit of trouble driving straight but safely get to home by midnight. I called my dad to let him know that I came home okay, and he told me in exchange that my mom was admitted to hospital alright as scheduled. I think it's going to be another tough days for her, as well as for my dad. I stayed up until 2:30am to take care of stuffs before going to bed...



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)