Japan Trip 2009 #2 - Obon


In Japanese culture and belief, during the month of August, our ancestors' souls come back to their homes. This period is called "Obon", and usually we visit family's grave to pay respect for who passed away, and for certain occasions, monk will come and perform a ceremony (called "Hoji") at home. Since my mom passed away this year, the Obon is called Hatsubon (first obon), and considered more important than other years. I bought the ticket early April once the date for the date is set.

2009/7/30-31 Going to Japan

7/31 80/77

To the Airport

I woke up at 3:45am, felt really tired but I just cannot miss the flights. Had breakfast and checked emails. Finished packing after taking a shower, and left the apartment at 4:15am. Drove east on I-96 and changed to I-275 south. The traffic on the road was not so bad, just had hard time driving concentrated under dark morning sky. Safely arrived to the parking outside the airport around 5:00am. The shuttle van was hauling people to the terminal just as I parked so I could hop on and get going. At the terminal, I checked myself in with using an automated machine but something was wrong with it and accepting only a bag. So, I had to get help from a staff at the baggage drop off. After it's been taken care of, I joined the long line for security screening. The line was longer than usual so it was already 5:40am when I was cleared, walking toward the gate, stopped by at a store to grab water on the way.

Flight to Dallas: AA497 DTW(6:30am EDT) - DFW(8:05am CDT)

Still dark outside at DTW

The boarding started from 6:00am sharp. Not so busy and soon the priority boarding began so I could walk in to take a seat and relax. While I was waiting for the departure, I checked the weather with iPhone at Dallas and found out it was just about to get a severe weather approaching from the west. They had a thunderstorm warning, a tornado warning, and other weather related stuffs. The captain told us the same thing so the arrival to Dallas Fort Worth likely be delayed. I hope the flight to Japan also get delayed if the plane to Dallas is delayed so I don't have to miss the flight. The plane waited for about 10 minutes after departed from the gate, so I start concerning about being put for ground stop but began moving and took off at 6:35am. This is a good sign. After the plane leveled at the cruising altitude, I took a 30 minutes nap then pulled out my laptop to update my blog, and some company stuffs. At 7:00am, the captain announced that the plane will probably be delayed due to the storm at Dallas Fort Worth area, landing to be expected around 8:20am. Not so bad.

Departing Detroit (6:45am EDT) Getting cloudy (7:52am EDT) After the storm (8:05am CDT) Texas Speedway (8:05am CDT)

The captain made another announcement at 7:30am, that it's going to get bumpy, but it was not that but at all. Reached near the airport around 7:50am to start approach from NW, and landed at 8:10am. Only 10 minutes late but since we landed at the west side of the airport and the gate is at NE side, the plane had to go all way around. While taxing, I have seen many small planes taxing out. They must be taking shelters during the storm and ready to go back up in the air again. Finally arrived at the gate A21 at 8:30am.

Arrived at DFW okay.

Flight to Narita: AA175 DFW(10:10am CDT) - NRT(1:05pm JST on 7/31)

Took a Skylink to terminal D. Arrived at the gate D36 at 8:45am. There are many people waiting already, and I see the plane being loaded with the meals under still somewhat cloudy weather. I bought some snacks, and another bottle of water from a nearby store. I tried to use a credit card to pay but the cashier could not use the card reader due to the thunderstorm they had a while ago, so I paid in cash. The boarding started from 9:30am on time, I was waiting at the lobby nearby the gate, watching TV. When the priority boarding becomes available, I walked in and took a seat. There aren't many people coming in so I guess this is not going to be a full flight then.

AA175 at DFW

When I see some people moving around for better seats, flight attendants came and told people to go back to the original seats until the door is closed. It was professional and fine but when they went back and start talking about how Japanese passengers switch around the seats without permission and other stuffs... I was disappointed. I can hear you. At 10 minutes before the door closes, being told that 35 more people will be added; the cabin will be full. The plane went through a series of checks and get pushed back. Taxied for a while, and takeoff at 10:20am. Climbing as it breaks the cloud base, getting some sunshine again. The plane reached to FL320 at 11:00am, and kept going NW. Passing by Dalhart, TX at 11:30am then cloud started to obstruct the view again. In another 20 minutes passed, the plane passed south of Colorado Springs, then over Aspen. Around noon, lunch was served, which was kinda cool looking out the Colorado Rockies while eating. The meal was chicken and rice.

Departing from DFW Above cloud line Dalhart, TX

Colorado Springs Colorado River

At 2:00pm, the plane flew over north of Seattle, WA, reaching south of Anchorage, AK at 4:00pm but since the plane was flying about 150 miles south of it, I could not see the land. Snack was served at 5:00pm, as it pass the international date line. I tried to take naps but not much success. Arriving to northern islands of Japan at 9:00pm. The plane kept going south over pacific ocean, and I finally change the time to JST when lunch was served at 11:30am. I had a pizza. Flying east of Iwaki city at 12:30pm, and soon the descending started. By 12:50pm, the plane reached the cloud level and kept going down. Flaps down at 12:55pm, and landed at 1:00pm. The shock of touching down was pretty hard, and the plane was skidded to side a bit before getting stabilized. Either due to crosswind or just due a bad skilled pilot. Took a while before coming to stop, left the runway with 2,000 feet remain and stated to taxi back to the terminal. I remembered that S shaped taxiway will be changed to straight after 30 years negotiations with landowner is finally settled. The plane had to taxi a bit more but arrived at the gate at 1:10pm. It was a long flight.

Seattle, WA North of Japan  
Land in sight Landed at Narita Airport

Flight to Nagoya: AA5894 NRT(3:40pm) - NGO(5:00pm)

Once I got off, I walked toward the connecting counter to get the information of gate number of the next flight. There was a board with my name is on it so I had to ask the attendant nearby if there is anything wrong. It was simply a note to make sure that I will be flying. I get the gate information, walked to the security for the connecting flight, and I tried to call my dad after passing it but he was out of reach. I only left him a message, I might try it again later when I get to Nagoya. I exchanged the currency around 1:40pm. I only get 35,000Yen for $380. I am glad I am not using bullet train this time. It will cost me almost $300 for a round trip between Narita and Nagoya. Reached the gate at 2:00pm but I was thirsty so I stopped by at a store to buy myself a bottled water and a snack.. I have about one hour before the boarding. So I pulled out my laptop PC to update my blog while waiting for the next flight, looking out cloudy sky. What a boring day now. There was a group of people who look like contractors passing by, pointing out the window and discussing about the residents resisting on building the airport.

AA5894 at Narita International Airport

The boarding time was originally scheduled for 3:15pm but the it was postponed to 3:25pm then soon to 3:30pm. They are really good about informing the customer. The seat was 2A so I was in a business class seat. It was a bit more comfortable than seats in the back. The plane departed and taxied to the northwest corner of the airport for takeoff. The plane took off at 4:05pm to south and kept heading for a while. The plane flew by stormy clouds like it was trying to avoid it. The JAL always take extra cautions and I guess I have to say they are making right decision. Once descending into the cloud, I could not tell which way the plane is heading, until I see land and ocean as it came under the clouds around 4:30pm. Landing to south at 4:50pm, and the plane taxied to the gate. I am done flying for now...

Departing to Nagoya (3:05pm JST) Passing the cloud (3:30pm)
Start descending into the clouds (3:36pm JST) Finally I can see land and ocean (4:52pm JST)

To home (Sorry no pictures since I was in hurry)

I stepped out from the plane at 5:05pm. I guess I have been in planes too long, now I cannot walk straight. Passed through the quarantine area, which I have to use hand sanitizer spray at the entrance. Get my passport checked then proceeded to the baggage claims. I filled out the customs form while I wait for the bags to come out, which took another 15 minutes before I can see my first bag. A drug detecting dog was making rounds... We had some recent drug bust cases and they are very cautious these days. I finally got both bags at 5:20pm and walked toward the customs, the agent there let me pass without a question, and I stepped out from the arrival area by 5:25pm. After I pick up my rental cell phone, start walking toward the terminal exit while on the phone with my dad. He asked me if I had dinner already and I guess he wants to eat with me. Okay then.

The next step is to catch a train to Nagoya, so I walked to a vending machine of Meitetsu. On the screen, train #41 was about to leave in 5 minutes, so I paid 1,200Yen for a ticket in hurry and jumped in the train. It departed on time at 5:36pm but something was wrong. It was not going fast for the first 15-20 minutes as I was expecting. However, I enjoyed watching outside under Nagoya's hot summer weather. I remember about the time coming home a year ago, also. The train was supposed to arrive at Nagoya at 6:05pm but arrived late by 5 minutes.

While I was on the train, I found the time to check the timetable of a bus to home. The earliest one is leaving at 6:40pm so I think I can make it. After getting off from the train, I walked up to a bus station, paid 400 Yen for a ticket. So by 6:30pm, I was standing in line and the bus departed on time. Stepping out at a stop nearby my place at 7:15pm, dragged my bags to home, and met with my dad. The outside was getting darker.

Coming home

The first thing I did was to report my safe return home to my mom. So I walked up to Butsudan (Buddhist family altar), and lit up a Senko (incense stick). I took a quick shower, and chat a bit with my dad then we walked to a Chinese restaurant nearby for the dinner. We both had beers and he had a fried noodle dish and mine was a stirred vegetable combo. The restaurant was packed and the TV was showing a Japanese baseball game of Chunichi Dragons and Yakult Sparrows. The Dragons is our local team but seems not winning. The customers were watching the game obnoxiously and cheer as a player advanced to the first base. My dad paid for the dinner and we came home. I only had a bottle of beer but it was enough. Since I was quite tired, hitting the bed makes sense, but I need to head to Kobe tomorrow. So I packed my bag for the three days trip and added all company related stuffs. Tried to call my coworker who is going to take care of me when I get there. Finally went to bed around 9:30pm.

2009/8/1 BBQ party at Kobe with counterparts

8/1 86/79

Woke up at 4:50am, I did not know I was able to sleep this much, I must have been really tired. Stretched my body, and finished packing. I was planning to keep the belongings as small as possible, but all the candies and other gifts to coworkers, I had to use a roller bag which is huge and heavy. I hope my friend won't be surprised. I took a shower, had breakfast with my dad at 6:20am. This time he cooked a couple of samma (Saury) to go with the rice and soup. We had a whole fish for each person. Maybe too much, though.

Moving to Kobe

Took a shower and get changed. I left home at 7:25am to a nearby bus stop. I thought the bus was coming around 7:35am but as soon as I started to walk, I saw the bus passing by. Oops... I think I must had the outdated timetable. I have to come up with alternative very quick, so I started to walking toward the bus stop for city transit, it's only a short walk. Not bad. Shower started as I was approaching to the bus stop. It had a cover so I don't have to get wet. I must be really fortunate. While wait, rain continued and I was watching the cars go by making splashes in front of me. It almost get my bag wet. The bus was scheduled to come at 7:42am but not arrived yet. We got about four people waiting in a line... The bus finally came so I am now free from getting wet. Arrived to Hoshigaoka at 8:00am, took an elevators to catch a subway train bound for Nagoya. The train came in 5 minutes and reached to Nagoya at 8:25am. I walked up to JR (Japan Railway) counter to buy a ticket to Shin-Kobe. I paid 7,140Yen for non-reserved seat. The staff recommended me the one leaving Nagoya at 8:53am since getting on the one leaving at 8:35am may be too hard.

I was able to pass the gate at 8:30am, so I reached the platform just as Nozomi 101, which is departing at 8:35am, is arriving. I could save time by taking this one so I hopped on. I found a seat at car #1, It's still raining outside a bit. The ride to Kobe is not that comfy since I am carrying a big bag with me. I like to watch people so the lady next me moving fingers while listening on something with a headset so I guess she can play a piano. Across the aisle, a mother with two kids are heading to Hiroshima. Sounds like they are going to see grandma. The kids were playing with toy from Thomas The Tank Engine.

Nozomi 101 at Nagoya Stormy cloud over west of Osaka

The train made brief stops at Kyoto and Shin-Osaka before arriving at Shin-Kobe. As the train was slowing down to the Shin-Osaka, announcement for connections were made, noted that Fukuchiyama line was suspended due to a heavy rain. For the past couple of weeks, there were many cases of floods in western Japan and some died or have gone missing. Trails of water start showing up on the side windows so rain must have started. After departing Shin-Osaka, there is a very long tunnel before arriving to Shin-Kobe. Arrived at shin-Kobe at 9:40am, only this area is open and it will enter another tunnel. The outside was still raining a bit, wondering if the BBQ party is still a go. Passing the gate and proceeded to a subway line. Coming down to underground level, bought ticket to Kamisawa where I am meeting up with my coworker. When I come down to the platform, the train was already there and it left at 9:55am. I see several high school students in their uniform, chatting. I am not sure how I would look like if I was born in this area. Arrived to the destination at 10:10am, oops, the meeting time was at 11:00am.

Nozomi 101 at Shin-Kobe In front of Shin-Kobe station (9:42am)

Kobe's subway

BBQ Party with coworkers

I called my friend, who plans to pick me up after he's done shopping around, but since I came too early, he decided to pick me up before the shopping. While I wait, I also called my relatives and friends to let them know that I am in Japan. Soon my phone ring and looks like he's finally here. I stepped outside and got inside of the car he drives, only to find a girl crying in a child seat. I have been told his daughter is very shy and does not get comfortable with people, she even cries when seeing grand parents. Left to get some beef for BBQ today. My friend stopped at a couple of places for the meat. One was by Nagata shrine, the other was somewhere I have no clue. After that, the car headed north, stopping at a grocery store for one last time, and finally arrived at my coworker's house. I was relaxing for a while with the family there, then people came in waves so a few come in, then a few more later, and total of 12 people gathered for the day. Once we are set, we split into few groups, one for shopping, others for preparing, and the last group for starting the fire. I was in the last team so we piled charcoal in a grill and started the fire with help of hair drier (my friend's idea). I guess we all are bad fire starters... The cooking started when the shopping folks came back, they had to go different store because they could not find the store being told. I volunteered to cook, first because I am the one who is getting support from them, so I have to show appreciations. Second, due to jet lag, I needed to do something or I could fall sleep. We cooked many meat, vegetables, and went on until almost 4:00pm, with a couple of pauses for getting the fire back up. The day was thought it is going to be rainy whole day but by the time when we started the fire, its only cloudy, and some sun shines and rising temperature as time goes by. I think I am getting some sun burns...

Relaxing for the evening

We cleaned up a bit and wrapped up the party. Other people who came have left the house. Had a bath in the evening. Because I smelt like charcoal from BBQ, I felt good. However, since I was so used to with standing shower, I could not fit myself in the hot tub. Ate noodle for light snack in the evening after bath. I walked up and brushed my teeth as I was looking at what my friends are using for dental hygiene. For the first time, I saw Japanese folks using floss and mouth wash. I guess things are changing then..

They prepared the bed for me so I could just go sleep. Went to bed around 10:00pm. Laying down, shutting my eyes, this place is very quiet. I could not hear a thing. In my house, I hear the cars drive by and some airplanes approaching for landing at Komaki airport. Despite of the comfort, I could not sleep at all. Maybe I should get drunk more or so. Hahaha... Start hearing noises of heavy rain hitting the roof and wind gust. The storm came in waves over the night. When the wind shifts during the storm, I can observe the change in the tone of rain dropping and the house making noise. I hope the weather tomorrow won't be rainy since I wanted to go see the view of Kobe.

2009/8/2 Rokko Sightseeing

8/2 82/73

[Hironoshin Furuhashi, a famous Japanese swimmer being active just after WWII has found dead at a hotel room in Rome, Italy, age 80]

Woke up at 5:30am stretched my body and got ready for today. The hard rain was gone, but light rain continued to come and go for the morning. Had breakfast together and played a game of scrabble for a while. Since I had to teach them how to play, I did not win... Well, I am going need a return match in the coming winter.

Kobe Sightseeing (Rokko Mountains)

The weather is improving and finally getting some sun, so we left home around noon for Arima Onsen (hot spring). After a half hour drive in a winding road, we arrived the town and followed the guide for a parking lot, which we have to drive up hilly and narrow roads. Once we parked the car, began to walk up the stone stairs to a restaurant for lunch. They had some handmade black wheat noodles, and a guy in front of the restaurant was making the noodle in a booth. It was fun to watch. They posted a guidance, that first we have to try with noodles only; second, try with salt on it; then at last, try with the soup. For a guy who is away from home land for more than 10 years, I did not get the point. My coworkers made fun out of me. Hmmm... They also had Sobayu, which is a boiled water used to cook wheat noodles, which also, does not make sense to me... again.

Narrow and Hilly street to the parking

Black wheat noodle Sake (Japanese Rice Wine) barrels

Disappointed on how much senses lost in Japanese side, we stepped out from the restaurant, heading toward the ropeway to the summit. The road to the station was a bit hilly and since we have a 3 years old coming with us, I thought maybe a bit too hard for her but she made it all way. Once we get there, I found out the ropeway does not operate at all the time. It runs three times per hour. We get on it after purchasing the ticket, and started to going up. It was kind of cool sight. As the car going up the 400m climb, I get to see the panoramic view of the location but at the same time, the sky was getting cloudy and start raining.


Arriving at the summit station under rain. I guess we cannot see anything so just gave up and headed down. After arriving back to the lower station, we tried ashiyu (hot bath for foot). Then we stopped at a snack store for afternoon tea. We had manju (steamed bun) and tea. Which was pretty good. Although I forgot many part of Japanese culture, sweets are something I could tell whether they are good or not. I bought few boxes of manju for gift to my family. Getting out from the store around 3:15pm, walked back to the car, drove off to Ashiya to drop off a friend. We took a toll road going down south. There was an observation place along the toll road. I think the view from there must be looking very nice. Found some people driving totally beyond the speed limit because they just want have fun. Finally arrived at the station and said goodbye to the friend.

Ashiyu (foot bath) Japanese tea and Daifuku-mochi
Arima Onsen On the way south

Heading to west along Kokudo (National Highway) #2, passing Nagata-Ku then Chuo-Ku, along the way. Those are the areas where sustained major damages in a big earthquake back in 1995. Turned to north and passed Nagata Shrine, and finally arrived back to the house. Relaxed a bit, helped made a inflatable swimming pool for their daughter. The dinner was another pretty good one, gave me a tai (sea bream), rei-shabu (chilled Boiled pork chop), chawan mushi (steamed egg pudding), had a couple of beers. Went to bed around 9:30pm.

2009/8/3 Reporting to the head company

8/3 88/73, (90/79 in Kobe)

Morning commute and company visit

I woke up at 0:50am then stayed up until 4:50am. I start updating my blog on my iPhone because the outside is already getting bright, and I got nothing else to do. Stretched my body, packed up and got ready to go work. Had another breakfast which is like a regular Japanese with my friend's family. Took off to work, we are using a car today (He switched to public transportation after the economy came down last year). The road down to the office was not so bad since we left home early and we were already at office by 8:10am (The department I am in starts from 9:00am). I get to meet with my Japanese counterparts and some who used to be in the offices in north America (There are so many since I have been working in the company for a while now. I get to see some former assignees.). Worked, had lunch, and attend a meeting for the afternoon.

Coming back home in the evening

I left office around 6:00pm, the company is enforcing employees to leave on time. I had to drop by at main building to return my visitor ID. Walked to the company parking lot and my friend took me back to Shin-Kobe station. The road was congested, and took a while to just get there. When I start to see the mountain area opened up and it was where Shin-Kobe station is located. My friend dropped me off at 6:45pm, bid farewell and entered the building. I bought a ticket to Nagoya at 6:50pm for 8,150 yen, which is a little more to spend but gives me a reserved seat. Because I am a bit concerned about getting a seat in a non-reserved car during rush hour, I thought it would worth the extra.. I still had few minutes before the train comes, so I bought my dinner when I walked up to the platform. Nozomi 138 arrived to Shin-Kobe at 7:02pm, and departed on time. My next seat was open but I was worried that there will be a person coming at the next station. Since I was carrying a big bag, it was impossible to eat meal so I ate my dinner in about 5 minutes. No time to enjoy... The rest of the time, I was watching outside getting dark. The train stopped at Shin-Osaka, Kyoto then at Nagoya.

Nozmi 138 arriving to Shin-Kobe station

My dinner "Kobe Delica Lunch" Rice, Rolled Eggs,

I got off the train at 8:10pm. Now I need to find a way back home. I though about using city transit, but need to switch couple of times, so I decided to take a Meitetsu bus. I already checked the timetable and I think I can catch one leaving at 8:20pm if I hurry. I made it but since I took a seat pretty back, I was worried that I could not get out at the stop. Somehow I managed okay and arrived at home. Chatting with my dad for a bit. Checked the schedule for tomorrow, assembled lanterns for tomorrow and hit the bed around 10:00pm.

2009/8/4 Hoji day

8/4 93/74

Today, Hoji ceremony is scheduled from 9:00am. The ceremony is for the ancestors who are believed to be coming back home for the period of Obon. This time, it's for my mom mainly.

Woke up at 2:40am then could not go back to sleep. Stayed in the bed but finally got out at 5:20am. My dad was already up so we had early breakfast around 6:30am. I did a load of laundry and then started to help dad with trimming the trees. We still have time before the Hoji ceremony. Around 8:30am, I got changed and waited for my brother's family. The monk came around 9:00am The monk did okyo lasted about thirty minutes. In a part where he has to read out the Kaimyo, he seems not to remembering so he kept looking up the Ihais for the names, which made me laugh but I had to hold on to it. When the ceremony is over, we had a short chat and then the monk left for next client.

My brother and I continue trimming the trees and had lunch together. After the lunch, we walk to the care house where my grandma lives, with my brother. We stayed for about half hour. She looked much better than last time I saw her about 6 months ago, but same as usual, did not remember any names and was not talkative to grandsons. A caregiver told us about the how she is getting cheerful attention, and some pictures of day drips. She looks happy, I guess. Gave two boxes of manju to the caregiver and we both walked out. My brother headed home but I walked to a nearby coin laundry to get my cloth dried. However, the place was closed, and I was shocked. I guess I have to find some other place next time. I come home around 2:30pm then called my aunt for tomorrow's plan on the lunch. I hang my laundry this time to let them dried naturally. My brother's family left around three o'clock.

Not much we did since then. I trimmed some tree branches and that was it. For the evening we only made rice because we had plenty of sides from the lunch, nothing else is needed. Went to bed around 9:30pm.

Butsudan decorated with flowers

2009/8/5 Visiting relatives

8/5 89/78

Woke up at 4:50am, I was able to sleep through all night for the first time. I guess I could finally relaxed after accomplishing the objectives of the trip. Stretched my body then went for a short run in the morning before the breakfast. It was already hot. For the morning, I decided to clean up the house so opened up the bags which no one touched since my mom died and found a couple of papers she forgot to turn in a few month before she got hospitalized. That made me think her health was already bad at that time. While soring through, a small stack of origami stopped my work for a moment and made me somewhat upset... I finished it up and start hanging my laundry, then went to get haircut. The lady there seems to be well as usual. We chat a bit.

Head to Narumi

Leaving the home at 9:45am, I ran to a senior care house for my grandma's paperwork and hurried back to catch a bus. It was already 9:55am so I guess could not make it and waited for the next one. That bus was supposed to come at 9:59am but came late by 5 minutes. Got a ride to Meitetsu bus center at Nagoya, which I get to see some parts of the city. Then took stair down to the underground floor. I had to pick the one going to the right plane and stops at the right station so I check the timetable, I guess I have to wait a bit. Took a Semi-Rapid train departing Nagoya at 10:52am for about 20 minutes to Narumi. I got off and start walking toward my grandma's house. It's not sunny but kind of hot day already. I found a post office on the way, so I mailed a package which was requested by my friend in the U.S. Arrived at my grandma's house at 11:30am, and had cold tea and chat a while until my uncle comes to pick us up.

Nagoya TV broadcast tower NHK Nagoya broadcast center,
Aichi prefecture museum
Blue structures are living places for homeless. Midland Square and Mode Gakuen Spiral Towers

Semi-rapid train to Kirayoshida

Lunch at my aunt's house

After a short ride to my uncle's house, we had lunch together. I was talking with my aunt, uncle and my grandma. (Mostly I was the one speaking, hahaha). I caught up with a lot of things happening in the relatives. This time my aunt made me some contemporary food, the last time was totally traditional Japanese and saw me eating with difficulties... It was a great meal, thank you so much. Stayed until 2:40pm, my uncle took us back to Narumi station. My grandma went to buy a loaf of bread, and I took a train further east to Arimatsu.

Arimatsu Visit (Old Tokai Do)

Background: Back in the time when people has no powered transportation, Japanese traveled from Tokyo (or Edo at the time) to Kyoto (the capital at the time) by foot. The route is called Tokaido and now you can travel in 2 hours with a bullet train but that time required many days.

Got a ride at Narumi station at 2:52pm and waited for a train to Arimatsu, which was only 3 minutes by a local train. I stepped out and headed to south a bit, then start walking toward east, I get to see some old looking houses. Almost like ones I see in old time movies.  Some houses have a bench in front of store for customers to sit, and some had a storage building within the property. I was not quite sure which one is significant or important but did not want to stay too long. So I went to a shrine nearby and returned to the station around 3:40pm. A Nagoya bound train come at 3:43pm and headed back.


Shopping in Sakae

Once the train arrived to Kanayama, I switch to subway (Meijo Line) to Sakae. I stopped by at several book stores and music stores. I needed to get my Japanese culture part fulfilled. This time I had no luck on the CD. Hmmm, get back to the station and come back to Hoshigaoka, I come home around 6:00pm and had dinner with my dad. In the evening just being lazy. It's too hot to do anything Went to bed around 10:00pm.

2009/8/6 Getting ready to come home, dinner at my brother's

8/6 84/80

Shopping in the morning

Woke up around 5:00am, I went out for a quick morning run then had a breakfast with my dad. Since I was slacking off for the last couple of days, I started to read newspapers to catch up with what's going on in the world. Since I had to go stop by at a bank, I left home around 9:40am to catch a bus to downtown. The bank was not so busy because today is a weekday so I did not have to wait much, but had a lot to deal with. Finished with everything at 11:50am, that's the time when rain started a bit.

Before I come home, I had to buy a Juzu (7,000Yen)at Mitsukoshi department store, and also noise canceling earpieces at Yamada appliance store. I was thinking of buying one made by Sony, but this time I picked Panasonic, simply because how much money I had in my wallet, which was around 5,000Yen. I also picked up some Pokemon cards for my coworker who requested them. Walked to a bus stop nearby and catch one at 12:40pm and come back to home. I stopped by at a drug store nearby to buy masks, and some snacks for the trip back to the U.S.

Stranded outside the house, meeting with elders at a cafe

When I come home, my dad was already gone and I don't have a key to get in. It was raining and I was getting hungry so I left home and walked to Coco Ichiban store to eat a curry for lunch. This time I picked Asparagus, Tomato and Tonkatsu (Fried pork fillet) curry for 1,000Yen. After I finish the lunch, walked to nearby bicycle store, and hooked up with the owner to waste time at a cafe. The bike shop owner is about to close his store, and told me many changes in bicycles over the time.

Asparagus, Tomato and Tonkatsu Curry

Since the guy was local person, he told me when he was a kid, and when the town grew. He told me about the heavy bicycle, which we had to do sankaku-nori, and he used to run up to the Idaka shogaku, chugaku and so on. About making mikoshi, and they quit carrying around the town, now it has a roller to pull after carrying it to the parking lot of nearby superstore. We used to carry it to all the way to Takamu shrine. Stayed at the cafe until 3:00pm and come home. Wait for my dad to come home.

Evening at my brother's house

After getting back to the house, I get ready for the evening. We took a bus leaving around 6:15pm, and arrived at my brother's house before 7:00pm and we stayed there for a dinner. We had rice, soup, and other good Japanese meals. Their baby was having dinner, too. After the dinner, I used their internet to check my work and private emails. I had about 80 emails to read and the baby wanted to check out my PC and keeps coming to me... As I was stepping out, my sister in law asked me if I wanted to take Japanese pickles... We left their house around 8:30pm, then we walked out and headed to the station. looked up the sky which was getting cleared. Caught a train back to Hoshigaoka. It was before 9:00pm so one of the cars was female only, so I had to be careful. After getting off the train we went up to catch a bus. About 40 people were waiting already. After getting off at a bus stop nearby our house, I could see the moon which is almost full.

After arriving back the house. We opened up the Windows to get a cooler air I gave another shot of pesticide to a beehive. Taking advantage that they are not active during the night. As I was preparing for the returning trip back to the U.S. I saw my dad was sitting in a chair, staring the air for a while. I guess my dad is depressed a bit. I was continuing packing but once I determined it's pretty much done then prepared the bed Went to bed around 10:00pm. Let's not forget that I still need to smash the beehive.

  Cell phone


2009/8/7 Coming back to the U.S.

8/7 89/78

Woke up at 5:00am. Went outside and saw the ground is wet so it must be rained a bit. Continuing on from yesterday, gave total of three tries to remove the beehive from the tree and I had to kill one lasting bee on the ground, which looked like the queen, I felt a bit sorry. Had breakfast together with dad and I washed the dishes this time. I had to finish packing as I continue reading the Japanese newspaper. I took shower at 9:00am,  dried my body and then put all the wet cloths in a bag so I can finish packing by 9:30am My dad came downstairs and we chat a bit before departure. I set bug screens for my dad as the last favor, I hope he will have the rooms cooler then. Shock hands at the entrance, and headed to outside.

A regular summer day

To Centrair Airport

I left home at 9:45am trying to get on the bus leaving at 10:02am. I was pulling my bags under already hot weather, which was quite tough. Man, I hate summer time in Japan. The sky was mostly cloudy, which do look like a typical summer day I saw when I was young. While I was waiting for the bus, a group of kids accompanied by a guardian passing by. They look happy, not complaining the hot summer weather. Listening to the cicadas' wowing sound, and watching the cars passing by... The bus came to the stop on time and arrived to Hoshigaoka station at 10:15am. As the bus makes it's round. I was watching outside, wondering what kinds of stores, or if there is any changes in my neighbor... Once walking out from the bus, I proceeded to the subway platform. From my experience I have learned that if I use the door 5 or 6, closest escalator at Nagoya station is just right by it.

I got on the subway leaving at 10:22am and arrived at Nagoya station at 10:45am. Walking up to the Meitetsu station. I bought train ticket just five minutes before the departure time. Walked down to the platform in hurry, used a vending machine to buy a bottle of tea before the train arrives. This time, the train had only 4 cars. Get on the train #20 which leaves Nagoya at 10:50am and arrives at the airport 11:18am. The passengers are mainly Japanese, but I heard someone talking in Korean, and Chinese. The ride was just fine. The train was on schedule and I was looking out the window, watching a pair of wind turbines at Shin-Maiko are slowly turning, it looks like the wind is coming from west today. The train arrived at the airport, I returned the phone, checked my bags in, and I only received a ticket to Narita, while the bags are still heading to Detroit. The receptionist told me that I have to get the rest of ticket at Narita at American Airlines counter. Oh well, it's not a big deal.

Express at Nagoya Arriving at the airport

I went upstairs to the deck, I was watching the planes taking off and landing, just like anyone else there. I saw the security person riding on iReal, which was making somewhat bell ringing sounds as it moves. Done with watching planes goes by, walked back inside the building, passed immigration around noon. Once I am in, I thought about having lunch, so I walked in a cafeteria and had a misokatsu don for 900yen as lunch. At the table next to be, I have seen a group of Pilipino into their military uniform. Either for the training in the U.S. or going back home. I could not tell. Stopped by at a store to get something to snack and drink.

Flight to Narita: AA5896 NGO(1:45pm) - NRT(2:50pm)

Taxing down NGO Toba Niijima

Arrived at NRT

Arrived at the gate 16A by 12:30pm, I was sitting in a chair and reviewing the emails I received yesterday and typed up replies. The sunshine was so strong that I can even start to sweat if I come under the direct sun light through the window. The boarding started from 1:25pm, and I used my priority access right to get in early. The plane was very much full, and I sat next to a couple who are going to Europe. After on time departure, the plane taxied to north of the airport. The sky is under partly clear, nice summer weather. The plane took off at 1:53pm to south, I get to see Toba, before it turned to east, heading to Tokyo. The plane flew over the pacific ocean, so I was just looking the outside. I saw Nijima to south, then the sky was covered by clouds. I was not sure how much we traveled since, but landed okay at 2:50pm. Had to taxi for another 10 minutes.

Flight to Los Angeles: AA170 NRT(4:00pm JST) - LAX(10:20am PDT)

After getting off the plane, I had to receive tickets for my connecting flights. I waited in a line and getting mine processed. So by the time when I arrive at the gate, it was just before the beginning of boarding. I found a vending machine, and grabbed a bottle of water, and then made a phone call to my dad. We only chat for a few minutes then I went back to the gate for boarding which started from 3:20pm. I just walked in the gate while flashing ticket showing priority boarding. I took a seat and relaxed. It's another long haul trip to the U.S. with distance of 5,444miles. 32 degrees Celsius outside, a typical summer day here. The plane was ready for departure, but had to wait for a while since the airport is busy at the time and waiting for the clearance. The guy sat next to me I smelt garlic... a Korean, maybe. I talked to him and found out he is studying in PhD program of Electrical Engineering in Boston University. I know if he graduates, he could avoid the military service. Good luck to him. The plane was ready to go so it was pushed back at 4:09pm. Here we go...

AA170 at Narita airport

Bio-fuel using House of activist House of activist Getting ready to depart Narita
    Sunset Sunrise
San Francisco San Francisco Faults Mountain Area
Los Angeles Los Angeles Los Angeles Dodger stadium
Hollywood Motor Speedway Arriving at LAX An A380. So huge...  

The plane took off in the air at 4:35pm, heading to east and passed south of Boso peninsula Soon after in the air it becomes turbulent and very much that way for a while the seatbelt light came off around 5:45pm I watched the movie called push, which was pretty cool. Watched another movie about X-Men's Wolverine then decided to go sleep around 7:44pm, Actually I was also sleeping in the Marita flight. Got up at 12:30am only 1.5 hours to LA. In about one hour to go, breakfast was served, the plane was flying over San Francisco at 1:30am and the captain announced that plane will be landing in half hour. Landing at 10:00am just at local time. While taxing back, I saw an Airbus A380 for the first time. It was simply huge since the jetways are only available for the lower half. Arrived at the gate at 10:10am. Walking out from the plane, proceeding to immigration. While I was waiting in the line, sniffing dogs coming and going a lot I guess drug smugglers are doing their best try while the government is doing their best also. I had to help a Japanese girl who forgot to register with TSA because I helped her, I was able to skip the line hahaha! Of course they asked me about expiration date of my passport Walking out and get my bags rechecked

Flight to Dallas: AA2444 LAX(12:15pm PDT) - DFW(5:25pm CDT)

Walking up the stairs so I can go to security screening. The airport system maybe too small for this much people around. I had to wait in a long line which extend by the entrance doors. Passing the security around 11:10am, as I was walking toward the gate, I saw the plane I was on. The lobby area is simply packed and I could not find any chairs available, so I sat on the floor by a window, which was not too bad at all. I had some time before boarding so I bought a newspaper and bottled water. At the gate, there must be a cancelled flight to Dallas earlier, I saw a list of 20 people on standby. My first class upgrade was not confirmed yet but in this kind of situation, I have a good chance getting one. The boarding started from 11:45am, and just as I thought, my seat is upgraded to the first class. Sitting in a big seat, relaxing is not too bad since I was already tired a bit. I wish this is a window seat, though...

The plane was pushed back at 12:15pm and taxied for a while before taking off at 12:25pm. I ate a salmon salad served but most of the time I was napping. Passing by Wichita Falls around 2:43pm, and landed at 4:58pm. The plane taxied to the gate in about 10 minutes. After getting off the plane, I found out that I had to change the terminal, so rather than I use the Skylink, I decided to walk.. I called a couple of friends to let them know that I have arrived while walking toward the connecting gate.

Salmon Salad

Flight to Detroit: AA2204 DFW(7:10pm CDT) - DTW(10:50pm EDT)

I arrived at the connecting gate at 5:40pm. This is the final leg of the trip. The boarding started on time at 6:40pm. Since I already have the first class ticket, I could just walk in at the first call. The plane left the gate 7:15pm, taxied to the runway, and took off at 7:20pm to south. The plane headed to east for a while, the dinner was served after a while then I fell sleep. The guy next to me was heading to Ann Arbor for the weekend. The plane passed the west of airport and kept going north for a while, landed to south at 10:40pm, taxied to the gate in 5 minutes. After getting off, I was waiting for my bags to come out and it took longer than usual... Once I retrieved all the items needed, I started to walk up to the bridge to get a ride back to the parking

AA2204 at DFW

Departing DFW

Reflection of evening sun Dinner

Arrived at DTW

To home

Walking out from the terminal building, to get a ride on a shuttle parking around 11:05pm. Due to fatigue, I could not spot my car in the dark for a while. Driving back to the home was also a bit unstable, too. I had some difficulty keeping my car within the lane. Anyhow, I am back at home at 11:50pm, called my dad to let him know that I returned safe. Went to bed around 1:00am.



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)