The price for the airline tickets for the end of year started going up early this year because of the revival of fuel surcharge after June. When I tried to find one, the minimum price is already in $1,950. As I progress on the research, the price to Nagoya will be around $2,000 since the lowest price does not include the shuttle flights. Instead of using AA.com, I used Yahoo.com. They had the ticket for $1,800 including the flight to Nagoya. I made the purchase on 7/28.
A day before going to Japan, I went to a bank to withdraw a large amount of cash since I found someone stole my credit card number a few days ago, so I cannot use the card. I checked the weather before I go bed, all Detroit, Chicago, Tokyo and Nagoya, should be okay.
Woke up at 5:30am with help of alarm clock. The outside was 23F. Glad to know that I picked the later flight than normally do. I would hate to get up at 3:00am. (I actually woke up a couple of times over the night. I guess I was so happy about leaving for the holiday.) I finished packing after eating a quick breakfast, took a shower, and took out trash bags before start loading my bags to the car. Because I scraped off snow from the windows of the car last night, I simply brush it off.
I left home around 6:35am, some parts of the road looked shiny due to icing so I took cautions while I drive There are several cars ditched off the freeway, they must be from over the night. The sky was getting brighter while I drive close to the airport, I could see some planes coming in for landings. I arrived to the parking around 7:15am. The lots are getting full as the holiday season starts. I parked my car, passed my bags to the shuttle bus driver. There are a couple more people coming in. One person is going to Phoenix for the holiday, nice... After a short ride on a van, I arrived at the terminal for the check in, it was not so busy but the next one, Southwest had a long line. I guess budget airlines are doing pretty well these days.
I passed the security at 7:45am, walking toward the gate. I pick up a bottled water, and magazines requested by my coworker. I arrived at the gate by 8:00am. The place is pretty much empty and the gate nearby was boarding for another Chicago flight, AA4317. The agent at the counter made announcement that there are some seats available, in case we are in hurry, but I did not feel like it. (I never thought this could make a big difference later...)
AA4347 at DTW
The boarding for the flight should starts from 9:10am but the plane did not arrive until 9:05am, so the boarding began at 9:20am. It was quick and made on time departure, no need for deicing process helped, too. It taxied to 22R behind of three other planes. I saw a line of snow plowing machines coming from the other direction, so I guess now the runway is clear of snow. The plane had to wait for its turn, then took off at 10:00am to south then headed to west. The sky was clear until reaching Lake Michigan, then clouds covered the ground so I could only see a part of the lake, and Chicago downtown. The plane landed at 9:45am local time, to west at the north end. As we taxi, I saw a B777 belonging to American Airlines, is surrounded by fire engines and ambulances. I was just wondering what's going. on, and never imagined that would be the one to Narita at the time. The plane came in 15 minutes early, so it shutdown the engines on pavement and waited for ten minutes before restarting them to move to the gate.
|Shortly after taking off, looking at Lake Erie||Plane heading to west|
Passing by Chicago downtown under clouds
After I get off from the plane, I walked to an information board to find out the connecting gate. The boarding should be starting very soon but only to find out that the flight is delayed until 4:00pm. On the next line, Japan Airlines to Narita is now in final boarding. I have a bad feeling, so I pulled out my cell phone and tried to call the customer service at O'Hare but somehow I cannot call or use internet. Funny, because the reception seems to be good. Anyways, I'd better get to the gate to find out.
11:05am to 4:00pm? No way!
When I arrived to the gate, the plane was there but the it was surrounded by ambulances and fire engines. About 100 people lined up at the counter. They made an announcement that the plane is down due to mechanical malfunction. Soon they made another announcement that the backup plane is also down so they are waiting for the plane coming from London, so 4:00pm is the earliest. They gave me a meal vouchers ($5 for breakfast, $10 for dinner) so I had no choice, and complains but just to wait. A middle aged couples next to me was planning to spend their holidays at Taiwan. They had to call people to make reservations changed. This is a mess... In addition, some Japanese passengers do not understand what's going, so I had to translated for them.
|People lined up||Does a broken down plane needs an ambulance???|
I walked in to a restaurant nearby, and used the vouchers to get water and salad. On the TV, NFL game was on. I was not really paying attention. After I was done, I took a seat nearby to spend time until 4:00pm. Next to me, a passenger with his wife and two kids sat next to me looked tired. They were trying to go back to Miami, after coming back Switzerland to New York. A bad weather cause them to be sent to Chicago and they spend the night here. Because it is weather related, the airline company will not cover the hotel charge, so it must be a blow to their wallet.
Because I cannot do anything on the schedule, I spent time working on company stuffs, and some email exchange with friends on my iPhone. The connection of my cell phone is sometimes okay. I waited until I waited until 3:30pm then rechecked the gate information. Now it is departing from K-12, which is the next one, so I just walked up there. The boarding will be starting soon, so checked the time, which is 6:30am in Japan so my dad should be awake. I found a pay phone and called my dad to let him know that the plane is delayed and I can only make it to Narita today, so do not wait for me.
|to be flight AA135... (Third try!)||Finally taking off from Chicago.|
I then walked toward the gate, which soon make it available for priority boarding. I was in the cabin around 3:45pm, hoping the travel will be okay, and hopefully the plane will land earlier than they are expecting. The boarding and others are taking very long or that's how I felt. The plane finally starts moving at 4:45pm, and taxied to a runway. It departed to west at 5:00pm, then made a right turn. I tried to use the entertainment system on the seat but it seems to be broken... The clouds covered the ground quick so I could not see where we are flying. When the altitude is high enough, the captain of the plane made an announcement, apologizing that their two B777s were both grounded due to some issues. I guess one of those days. Hahaha...
|Meal #1 Beef and Rice||Meal #2 Pizza|
Some unknown city, looks like a zodiac on the ground
Moon over Narita
Coming back to shore for landing
I guess I don't have much things to see, I picked up a newspaper, seeing that JAL (Japan Airlines) may be joining the SkyTeam... I guess I have to switch my primary frequent flyer company. The dinner was served around 6:00pm (CST). My entertainment system does not work. Finished eating the meal in 30 minutes, Beef & Rice was not that good (as usual). I decided to sleep after that... I woke up at 3:40am, the plane was flying east of Sakhalin Oblast. We are almost there. The dinner was served around 4:00am, flew over Sapporo, Hakodate and Aomori? around 8:00pm JST, then Sendai in 30 minutes later. At 8:20pm the plane preparing for the landing. The plane flew next to the Narita Airport, then move to the ocean once before making the turn to the final. The plane landed at 8:35pm at local time, reached to the gate.
After getting off the plane, passengers were lined up by their destinations. I waited for my turn, then received a piece of paper for the hotel for tonight, and a another for tomorrow morning's flight to Nagoya. Passed through immigration and the customs, I pulled my bags to bus stop #33, which is to the hotel. I waited only for few minutes then a bus came, and about 20 others getting on.
|Hotel reservation ticket||Ticket for tomorrow's flight|
|It's past 9:00pm in Narita.||Getting on a bus to the hotel|
The bus left the terminal at 9:30pm, and drove through a road which the bus had to make many tight turns under dark. I am always amazed how Japanese large vehicle drivers can take the challenge. Arrived at the hotel in 10 minutes then everybody had to lined up for the check in. I was chatting with other stranded passengers, one guy is going to Sasebo for the Navy station, other is going to Korea for vacation from Canada. At the check in, I received a key and a couple of meal coupons. I was not that hungry so I just bought a rice ball and water at the convenience store. Arrived at the room at 10:20pm, which was very tiny; a unit bath, a bed and tiny desk with small TV... I used its internet connections to check and send emails. Nothing else I can do, so I went to bed around midnight.
Over the night, I woke up a couple of times due to a jet lag, then finally got up from the bed at 5:30am. The outside is getting brighter, I could see a part of the airport, and a mountain far away. I stretched my body a bit, took a shower then went to the first floor of the hotel for breakfast buffet around 6:15am. The restaurant is open from 6:00am and I used my coupon for a free meal. They had meals in many different styles. I picked Japanese style. (Nikujaga, Kamaboko, Ika, Gemmai Rice, Miso Soup) While I was eating, I saw a couple of U.S. service members in uniforms. They had in their way, American way, of course... Bacon, Eggs, and Toasts. I finished in 15 minutes and went back to my room. On the way back, I saw a sign advertising the breakfast buffet, which is 2,000Yen for adult. That's twice the U.S., I think.
|The hotel Nikko Narita||Breakfast in Japanese style|
|In case you want to check the price...||In case you want to check the price...|
After I came back to the room, I got thirsty so I tried to get a water from a vending machine in the floor but the price was ridiculously high (like 300yen), I ended up coming back down to the first floor, to buy water at a convenient store for only 105Yen. Packed back whatever I pulled out for the night, and went to downstairs with my bags for check out, which I needed to sign off a paper. At the outside, there were the guys I was talking to yesterday so we decided to go together. Took a bus to the airport which had to pass through a check point. We had to show our passports. We arrived at the terminal 2 in less than 10 minutes around 8:00am. I can finally go home.
The guy was going to Korea so we bid farewell and another person and I proceeded to the check in counter at the first floor, because the flight to Nagoya is a domestic one. Passed the security, and for the time we wait for the boarding, I talked with her, finding out that she is having trouble contacting with her friend who supposed to pick her up. So I helped her by giving some ideas on how to get to Toyama by train, and also providing power to her iPhone via USB cable since it was dying (Man, I can do plenty...) The boarding time is arrived so We get in the airplane at 9:20am, I got one of those comfort seat, Yay. The plane was pushed back at 9:30am, and taxied to the runway. As the plane taxied, I saw an A380 parked. We took off at 9:40am, and flew over Narita at 9:45am then changed heading to west. We flew over south of Tokyo and also mount Fuji. Tokyo was mostly cloudy, and Mt. Fuji was covered with snow. The plane continue heading to Nagoya. Flying over Toyokawa, Toyota's Tahara factory, then Himaka Island. The plane turned to north for the final. Landed at 10:30am. The sky is sunny. Looks like not too cold.
Passengers getting on board
|Departing from Narita||Passing Shinagawa||Mt. Fuji|
|Toyokawa, Aichi||Toyota's Tahara plant|
|Himaka Island||Noma city by the airport|
Plane landed at Centrair
After getting out of the plane, I walked to the baggage claim and waited for the bags to come out. I found the girl who needs help so we walked to the exit together. Oh good, there is the guy who supposed to pick her up waiting at the exit. Now she does not have to get a ride to Toyama by train. My work is done so we shook hands, and I walked to a counter to pick up my rental cell phone. I worried that since I disputed a claim on my credit card, mine may not work, but it did, great. I start walking toward the exit to catch a train to Nagoya. I called my dad to let him know that I arrived safe, and planning to come home from now. I walked up to ticketing counter and get on the train at 11:10am. There is a train leaving immediately but the ticketing sales are finished, so I pick the next one leaving at 11:17am. Meitetsu MuSky 313 left the airport at 11:17am, and made several stops before arriving Nagoya at 11:54am on time. I was watching outside which is sunny and calm also seems pretty warm, too. Walked to a bus terminal at Nagoya, got on one leaving at 12:10pm. I arrived at my home around 1:00pm. The very first thing is to get my lunch so I walked to a convenience store nearby to grab some breads.
|Christmas Trees||Train to Nagoya|
After the lunch, I washed window screens, and trimmed trees. Also I walked to a DIY store to buy a new light bulb. We initially had a Panasonic one, but Toshiba one was a bit cheaper so I took the latter one. I had dinner with my dad... Nice to be at home.
In the evening, I got a call from my brother around 7:00pm, oops, I completely forgot about it. We discussed about the plan for the evening on 24th, also for the 30th and for the new year. My dad prepared a hot bath, which is very much automated now and ready in about one hour. Went to bed around 10:00pm.
[A Japanese astronaut, Noguchi arrived at ISS]
Woke up at 11:30pm, then 3:30am and 5:00am... I just cannot stay sleep...
Got up from the bed at 6:00am, had breakfast with my dad. Get my stuffs organized then went out to get haircut at a nearby barber shop. There were already two people in the store when I arrive at 9:00am so I had to wait for a while, came home at 10:20am. Since my grandma asked me to come before noon, I had to hurry. My dad told me to take some oranges with me so I walked up to the orange tree, took about 20 pieces and hurried to a bus stop. I got there around 10:35am and waited for 10 minutes until the bus come. On the way to Nagoya, I saw many stores are closed, and I wonder why until I realize today's is Emperor's birthday (holiday)... Arriving to Nagoya station at 11:15am then took a train leaving at 11:22am. I got off at Narumi. I walked to my grandma's house around 11:45am. When I get there, my aunt and uncle were there, we had sushi for the lunch. I had some tea after that and stayed until 3:00pm. I walked back to the station while feeling a few drops of the rain. I think it's going to be rainy. The train came within a few minutes, after arriving to the platform, and I got off at Kanayama station at 3:38pm.
Beer, Sushi, and Chawan-mushi
I transferred to Nagoya Public Transit to Sakae. Bought some CDs at underground shopping mall and come home. It was raining and I had to wait for a bus for about 10 minutes. I come home around 5:00pm, had dinner with my dad at 6:00pm. I washed the dishes after that. Started to plan on what to do for the rest of the days I am here. Hit the bed at 9:00pm.
Woke up around 11:30pm then again at 1:30am. I could not go back to sleep so I was up until 6:00am. I had a breakfast with dad, did the dishes. My dad asked me to get some papers for my insurance, so I need to go to the local ward office today... I left home at 9:15am and get on a bus, arrived at the terminal at 9:30am. Took a subway train just arrived to the platform. but I had to be careful not to get in women only car. The train took me to the east. The train stopped at several places, but now I cannot remember the location to get off. I made decision to just get off once. I can walk. Arrived at Meito Ward office. The process did not take too long. It took only 10 minutes. I headed back to the subway station, somehow there are many people waiting for train at the platform... I came back to Hoshigaoka by 10:00am.
Meito Ward Office
I wanted to go to Yamada Denki but they won't open until 10:30am, I need to wait. So, I walked to a library nearby to check out some travel books. As I walk toward the library, I walked passed a high school where I used to go. I could hear The bell to tell the start/end of the sessions. It brought back some memories, in good and bad ways... I wonder the school is still in session??? At the library, I made some copies of the material I was interested in. At library, I have to fill out a form to get a permission to make a photocopy, then I pay 10Yen for each page. Stopped by at Yamada Denki, I found out that they changed the layout a bit, I could not find the software I wanted so I decided to head home. I guess it was sold out due to bargain pitch for the Christmas present. Arrived home around 11:45am.
For the lunch, my dad burnt another lot of bread. He complained that the timer of the toaster is not working. I suggested him to replace it but he does not want to think about it. People get stubborn as age. (but I still need to do something about it.) I went to a short jog for the afternoon then I opened up the toaster to see if I can fix it, it was a timer unit with clutch is stuck, so it won't shut itself off. I told my dad about it, but he still does not want to do anything about it. Okay then... Took in my cloths around 4:00pm the sun comes down early in the winter...
Left home around 6:00pm with my dad, used a bus and a train to visit my brother's house. Had a Christmas party with brother's family. For the dinner, we had chicken, soup and other sides. This is the first time I am meeting with my brother's family since I came back home. We chat a lot, then my dad brought a song book from his work (photocopy still use some funny method, so all the pages are blue, I wonder how old are they...) and we sang a couple of Christmas songs. Well, I guess it's time! I turned myself into Santa, and gave my niece a picture book (Thomas the tank engine).. He did not like me at all but liked the book... It had a couple of buttons and tools that kinds can hit it or screw it. I guess it's a bit hard to pull out the tools so he was frustrated. I guess it's a lot of learning to understand the kids' mind. My dad and I also received some gifts from brother's family.
Left their home around 8:30pm with gifts received. Come home around 9:00pm. My dad went to butsudan, I could hear him reporting to mom what happened for the day; which makes me a bit sad. Before going to bed, I set the laundry machine to have it done by 5:00am, then went to bed around 10:00pm. I need to head to Kobe tomorrow.
Woke up at 5:00am, the laundry is done over the night so I was able to hang them outside before heading out. I felt chilly in the morning, may not only the outside air. I walked out from the home before 7:00am to catch a bus, it was supposed to come soon but came in 5 minutes late. The morning outside was pretty cold so I was shivering but something wrong with my body, also...? The bus arrived at the terminal at 7:40am, bought a ticket to Hyogo on JR's Shinkansen. I bought my breakfast and got on Nozomi 3 leaving Nagoya at 7:45am Non-reserved seats were pretty much full but I managed to get a seat. I could not eat my breakfast well, I am not sure why I don't have apatite. I don't have fever. Anyway, the train arrived at Shin-Osaka at 8:43am, I changed platform to get on a rapid train leaving for Himeji at 8:55am
|Nozomi 3||Rapid train|
|My breakfast, tea, riceball (Tuna/Salmon, and fried rice flavor)||Old train (Type 183)|
Arrived at Hyogo station at 9:27am. Since I was carrying two bags of chocolate, I was walking slow toward the company. I called up my coworker and we met at the entrance I got an ID, Amazingly, I did not feel like going to eat lunch so I Stayed in the room over lunch break. I was catching up on the work and was pretty much over by 5:00pm
We left the company after 5:00pm, my coworker and another got in a car and start heading to the house. In the car, I heard of news some people being reprimanded for an incident by an employee, I agreed that some of them are not related on the matter. Anyways, we stopped at a meat store. The car was parked at metered one but the stopper did not come up immediately. When my coworker came back to the car, we could still go but the other coworker was out of the car buying a pack of cigarette, so while we wait for her, the stopper came up... Now we have to pay 200Yen. We then stopped at a liquor store, bought some wines.
After arriving to the house, I dropped off the bag and joined the party, we had a total of 7 people. The kamo nabe was great but my appetite has not recovered yet so I could eat only a little. At least they were good and I enjoyed it. At last I become a Santa Clause (again), gave host's daughter a box of fancy picture books with reading pen. (Disney's Nemo and Cars included, the pen will read out aloud when touch the pages...) Then we had a cake.
After the dinner, two of my coworkers headed home. I took a bath in the evening, went to bed around 11:00pm while others watched figure skating competition on the TV.
I woke up 2:30am and 3:30am. I think I am recovering from the fatigue finally. I got up at 7:00am, felt like I finally had a good rest. The sounds of rain is stopped by then. In the morning, we checked out the talking book I gave to their daughter. It was pretty cool, actually. We played babanuki on cards then left at 11:00am to Awaji Island. Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi is one of the world's longest suspension bridge, the car crossed to the island, and we went to a parking to park the car.
|Bridge||Kite||A sundial on wall|
Getting off the parking, we played with kites. There were several kinds and we had good time. We had to go back in to the car to have lunch at Hayashiya. We went to a location nearby, then we had to walk a street which is so narrow that no car can enter. Arrived at 1:00pm, just in time for the reservation.
|A typical roji, no way you can drive a car here||The sushi place also has a fish market.|
|Sushi batch 1||Sushi batch 2|
|Futomaki (big roll)||Head of shrimps||Tai|
After the lunch, we went back to the park again. The wind sifted and now it's coming from the changed from the morning so the turbulence from the nearby building blocked the kites to go up. When we are done, we had tea at Westin. Tea and a desert cost us 1,300 Yen per person. Hmmm? Okay, it's time to go back, passed the bridge again to come back to the main island, and kept going on the toll road.
1,300 Yen ($14) cake and tea set
Getting dropped off at Kobe station around 5:00pm. I asked my coworker if I could just hop a ride with her. I bought some gifts before getting on. I bought Kobe puddings, a bottled wine, cup cakes, and cookies. We get on an Shin-Kaisoku leaving at 5:04pm, arriving at 6:00pm at Kyoto. After that, I should take a Shinkansen to Nagoya so I got on Nozomi 180 at 6:09pm, arrived at Nagoya around 6:50pm.
Nozomi 180 to Nagoya. This is Type 300, though...?
|Light show at Nagoya Station||Dai Nagoya Building, plan to be renewed||Central towers and the moon||Nana-chan|
After coming back to Nagoya, I called my dad to let him know that I am back in Nagoya. I guess I can eat dinner outside before coming home. I remember that one of my favorite menu is revived at McDonald's so I had Chicken Tatsuta at nearby store. The coke they had more carbo than what I get in the U.S. and the fries are bigger... The burger was delicious. Yum! I did not finish the fries, which is too much. I walked out from the building, checked out certain sightseeing points nearby.
|Chicken Tatsuta Meal. Note that potatoes are bigger||This is the burger, I missed it for... 14 years?|
I went to the bus terminal at 7:20pm, get on a bus at 7:20pm, arrived home around 8:00pm. I found out on the news reporting someone tried to start a fire in an airliner bound for Detroit. Oh, man... Why they wanna do that?! I think it's going to be harder to go back to the U.S. Went to bed around 10:00pm.
I woke up around 2:30am, then 4:30am. Finally got up from the bed around 6:00am. I was relaxing in the morning since I was tired from the trip. Had lunch with my dad, then headed out to the public cemetery to pay a visit to my mom and grandpa's grave. At the site, I saw some younger and older people visiting their ancestors before the new year. I put some flowers, and burned incense then prayed. While coming home, I called my brother, is telling me that he is planning to visit home today. I also got hold of a friend from high school, who is planning to come to Nagoya for the holiday so we schedule to meet in Kanayama on 30th.
I walked back to a bus terminal in hurry, hoping that I can still catch my brother. I got back home around 3:00pm, I see his stuffs so he must be around. I started to work on the house to fix a part of patio roof secured. My brother later came back, and tried to replace a tire. I noticed that a part of the tire is deformed so I had to check on it, later realized that it is okay to be deformed since the tire was packed in folding condition. Hahaha... The outside was getting dark and he hurried back to home after a quick check. Since my dad got an sudden errand, he had to go out so the dinner was at 8:30pm instead of 6:00pm. Relaxed for the evening, went to bed around 10:30pm. Sounds like it's raining already.
Woke up at 6:00am, the rain was about to end. First day of full sleep. I looked up the newspaper and it is going to be chilly but sunny for the afternoon, good.
I walked to the senior care home. I used an alcohol spray to sanitize my hands before entering. There were about 8 people and staff was preparing the lunch. I gave a couple of boxed snacks to her asking those to be shared. I found my grandma sitting on a chair at a table. I sat with my grandma for a while. She does not recognized me after all. She was saying I look tall, and nothing else. My dad recently told me that she skipped meals a couple of times but she is eating normally now. I guess it was a temporary thing. First I thought she may not live long. I am relieved. She does not feel comfortable (well, no one wants to be near a huge guy who is not familiar, although the person is grandson...). So I took a picture with her and left the place. There seems to be no one in the room gets welcomed in the house even for the new year...
For the afternoon, I went to a DIY store to buy some fasteners, and worked on to replace a part of the roof of the storage. First I took out the old roof piece, measured to get the dimensions to match it. After putting up the panel in place, I had to make holes to put the fasteners through. The wind started to pick up so it was a bit hard to hold, and chilly. It took until 4:30pm to complete, the outside was getting darker, windier and colder. (I'd better stop whining). I had some hot tea after coming inside. I am supposed to get a call tonight for the end of the year party but???
Around 7:00pm, I walked to a restaurant called Enishi. The place had okay environment. Soon many of my old friends joined. We had up to 11 people in the room. We just eat, drink and commenting on the meals and drinks. I had two jags of beer, made me feel good. Hahaha. I also took sips of their cooktails. One of them tasted like sprite, another one had sesame flavor but tasted like a gin. The total for the day was only 5,000 Yen per person so it was not so bad. If there is only thing I can complain is that they had not much choice in the desert. I had pumpkin ice cream which the ice cream was partly melt. My friend also had chocolate which was still hot. Oh, man... The party lasted until 11:30pm. I ran back to the house. The outside was getting chill... I went to bed.
|This is not a desert, but fried Hotate||This is a desert but I did not like the taste|
Woke up around 6:00am but not getting up until 7:00am, just because I was pretty tired from drinking with my friends last night. In addition, it is pretty cold, too! Anyway, got up to have breakfast around 7:00am, my dad was already up and doing some yard stuffs so I joined with him by start trimming three trees he requested. Mandaline orange, Yuzu, and Sudachi. Sudachi is the one most complicated one because all the branches are fighting each other. The temperature was rising but the morning low was around 0 degree Celsius. A technician from a solar cell panel company came to fix a software issue but could not solved it... The sky was getting sunny and I felt good about it. I kept trim the trees. Sudachi now looks like a totally different tree. Hahaha (but my dad thought I trimmed it too much and maybe killed it... I will see that later.)
The trimming was very much over by noon, and I had lunch with my dad. I brought up my futon to upstairs to get them hanged outside. Then I headed outside again. I worked until 3:00pm by making the pieces small so I can take them out as regular trash. I had tea with my dad and brother who is visiting the home today. After snack, my brother wanted to move his old piano to downstairs so I helped him. Very much done around 4:00pm and the outside is getting darker. I finished packing the cut branches into trash bags. My brother had to hurry back to his house. I took over his left over stuffs and also organized the room a bit. I found a bible used by my mom and some papers from 1996. I wonder how she was doing on that. Had dinner with my dad around 7:00pm, I tried to play a cello for the first time. I did not have the standard tune so I had to guess from traces of my mom's finger positions. Done with playing around 9:00pm. I typed up a part of blog and went to bed around 10:00pm. I set the laundry for the night. It will be cloudy days for the next couple of days... I hope my laundry will get dried.
The sky looks so blue
I woke up around 6:00am, took out the laundry and hang them at outside. I hope they will be dried before I need them. Had breakfast with my dad. Cleaned a part of kitchen after finish washing the dishes. My dad showed me books of where he used to stay in Germany after the breakfast.
I get ready to go out then walked to a bus stop around 10:15am. The bus should be coming very soon but came in late by 5 minutes. I arrived at Ueda station around 10:25am. The subway to Kamimaezu came at 10:30am, and it was about ten minutes ride. The time to meet with the friend is at 11:30am so I am too early to go to Kanayama. I decided to walk around Osu, so I exited from the station and visited some stores for a software I wanted to buy in used. The streets were not that congested, I expected more. I guess people don't have much money left for the year. I was pretty much done by 11:20am. I took a subway down to Kanayama. It was only a 5 minutes hop so I made it on time.
|Curry from Sukiya (with a egg?)||My choice, Sukiya beef bowl and small curry...|
We first decided our plan, then took a train to Sakae. We actually wanted to stop by at Wendy's which is closing at the end of the year. (The company decided not to renew the franchise agreement). However, we could not find the place. I was pretty sure it was somewhere around there. My friend pointed out that it maybe the open space where used to be a building. (Later I checked previous blog, and it was right). So we went to Sukiya, which served beef bowl. We chat about what's going on with our lives. He thought my company is doing better since his ship build business will be making the half of the amount for the next two years. He seems surprised to hear my complains about the salary cuts, too. Well, I guess any Toyota related company do the same. We then went to a bookstore, and a music store. I bought two more CDs
My friend had to go so I also departed Sakae around 3:00pm, arrived to Hoshigaoka, but did not go home straight. Instead, I stopped at Yamada Denki to pick up a oven toaster which is a replacement for what I have in the house. That one had broken timer so it will keep it burning the contents. Arrived to nearby bus stop at 3:45pm. Came home by 4:00pm. We will be going to visit my brother in the evening but until then I will be free.
Called my brother around 4:45pm as we walked. Caught a bus going to Hoshigaoka around 5:00pm, transfer to a subway train at a station nearby my brother's. While walking down the street, I saw a boy running dropped a piece of paper. I told him so he picked it up but did not say thank you. My dad was telling me how kids these days won't greet. I think younger generation is not told by older. We arrived at brother's, my niece popped head out but immediately after seeing me, he hid behind his father. Hahaha
The dinner was a Kaninabe. It was nice chatting, but the only one, who cannot join the conversation was making big mess during the dinner time. While we ate, I told my dad that I bought a new oven toaster for him. He did not complain this time. My had a meeting to attend, so he left. Later, I used their internet connection to check company and private mails, and also updated my CD library on my PC. My niece wanted to play with my PC, so I had to keep him away. Since he does not understand it, he started to cry. Sorry... Before going home, I got the sampling on tones for the cello. My niece is interested on my iPhone so I let him play with it (with extra care!). Left there around 9:00pm after discussing the plan for tomorrow and new year, the rain was very much over by then. Arriving at bus terminal. I looked around and saw many stores are about to close. Took a bus to come home around 9:30pm. I decided to go bed.
Woke up at 6:00am, it is not too cold, but expected to be very cold for the next few days due to winter like weather trend (Japanese called it Seiko-Totei, meaning that High pressure system to West, and Low pressure system to East). Had breakfast with dad (miso soup with buri). The wind was pretty gusty from the morning. At the outside, I picked up left over tree branches from a couple of days ago. After I finished, I asked my dad about anything to buy before noon today. He did not like the way I asked, here goes American-Japanese ways of thinking fight again... Anyways, I went to Seiyu supermarket for groceries. I had to buy few extras stuffs for myself. The store was not that busy, what a surprise. I guess everybody is ready for the new year.
Came home, had lunch with dad, he used the new toaster. I went outside to take leaves off a tree, which sounded like a stuff my dad did with mom. It was windy so the leaf I picked could get blown away... Around 3:00pm, the sky got really dark and I noticed snow started to fall. It was over in about half hour but made me a bit surprised. I took my laundry being dried inside of house. My brother came around 4:00pm with his baby. He brought us dishes for the new year. Thanks. We had tea together with dad. We planned for tomorrow, and I called my grandma for the plan, and a taxi company for reservation. Continue to pick out the leaves after he left, then I came inside before the sunset. I tried to play cello, but one of the string was very old, and finally gave a way. I looked for replacement but could not find any. I think it would be very difficult to get replacement until Saturday the 2nd. I guess I might have to give it up.
For dinner, we had some bread, kamaboko, tomato, and Kobe wine (red). At the end, we had soba noodle. I washed dishes and wrap up with the meal for this year. Everything was done by 8:00pm. I typed up this part of blog, then went to bed after taking a shower.
I woke up at 5:15am, my dad wanted to go to the shrine nearby so I got up. We left home around 5:30am, the outside was -1C and ground is covered with snow. It's been a while to see the surroundings like this. As we walk, I saw a group of younger people on bicycles going to the shrine also. Walking on cold and wet pavement under dark sky. It's quiet, seems like no one else is awake at the time. I felt my dad's foot step is no longer as fast as me. We arrived to the shrine at 5:45am, I made a couple of wishes and we left around 6:00am. Walking back to the house under snow which started again. I had to buy an Expak500 envelope for my friend so went to a convenience store. I saw a electronic message board to the Nagoya express way that all the route is closed due to snow. I think for the people coming to Hatsumode will have very hard time. We had breakfast together.
Snowed at home.
|Bonfire at shrine|
For the rest of the morning, I spent time reading newspaper for the new year. We are expecting my brother's family to come. They came around noon, and first stepped out to play with snow then we had lunch together. The snow was very much melt already but I found some chunk of snow still left in the back of the house so I made a small snowman and gave it to my niece. He did not get it, though. We had lunch with traditional Japanese New Year foods. We chat for a while and my dad played a tape which my brother overwrote when he was around 3 years old. It was so funny, I could hear my brother's childhood voice, my grandma's voice and my mom hysterically yelling at my brother. Hahaha. I had to wash dishes before 2:00pm because I have reserved a taxi.
The taxi came around 2:00pm. We all head to our grandma's place. The roads nearby the house were pretty busy with the cars coming for new year's visit to a shrine. We had tea and chat until 4:00pm, while watching Nagoya Grandpas, our local football team lose in Emperor's Cup. My brother's baby was irritated somewhat, so I guess it's time to go. Took a taxi back to home, the outside was getting dark. I had to run to a mail drop off to send out a package to my friend before dinner. We had little soba around 6:30pm, since we were pretty full. In the evening, I checked internet to find places where I can buy strings for the cello. I really want to get things straight before I go back to the U.S. (My mom be angry...). Had hot bath, went to bed around 9:30pm.
I woke up with sounds of rain. I guess it must have been raining over the night. Had breakfast with dad, washed the dishes. I spent some time updating my blog, also decide what to do for the day. I only have more one day. Until 9:30am, I repack for tomorrow. I get to talk with my friend who is meeting with today. We will meet in Sakae at 3:00pm. The weather is cloudy and pretty cold so I did not get to do much for the morning. Had lunch with my dad.
I left home around 1:50pm to take a bus to Hoshigaoka. I used another New Years only Donichi Eco Kippu. I transfer to a subway train to Sakae. First I stopped at Maruei Skyle, a department store, but they did not carry the string for cello, so I decided to go to Parco. I walked down the street, this time, they carry one. Good. When I done with the shopping, the time was already 2:50pm, so I started to heading back to Sakae in hurry. I called my friend at 3:00pm, I went to a meeting spot, and I was able to somewhat recognized him. We walked to a cafe and chat to catch up. He told me about how he spent his school time, and the life after he got a job. Now he works for a bank and stayed in Nagoya for a while in the past. He know about the changes in Nagoya in the period I was away due to study abroad. We chat until 4:30pm then walked together to have him pick a snack for his relatives. I left Sakae around 5:00pm, and came home around 5:30pm. The outside was already dark. It's a night time... (Tea at Sunshine Sakae (Cafe & Dining Canaria))
Had dinner with my dad, which is a roasted chicken. I called my brother to talk with him before I leave for tomorrow. I went to bed around 10:00pm. It's going to be a big (or long) day tomorrow...
I woke up at 6:00am, had a breakfast with my dad for the last time for this trip. The outside was not that cold, and sunny I think I accomplished a bit, maybe next time I will do more. In the morning, I continue packing my stuffs, took a shower then ready to go by 8:30am. I vacuumed the room, went to butsudan and bid the farewell to mom. I checked the timetable for the bus to Nagoya, first I thought about using an Meitetsu bus but I did not have the exact schedule so I decided to use city transit instead.
I left the home at 9:00am, bidding farewell to my dad by shaking hands. Then I walked to the nearby bus stop. The bus came just in time at 9:15am, and arrived to the subway station 10 minutes later. I walked to the platform, and caught a train leaving at 9:32am. I arrived to Nagoya station at 9:50am, walked to Meitetsu station at 9:55am, bought a reserved seat ticket to the airport (I already have my boarding ticket). MuSky 300 left Nagoya at 10:01am, moving under partly cloudy sky, arrived to the airport at 10:36am.
Once at the airport. I returned my cell phone. My credit card is cancelled (since someone stole my number) so I had to pay in cash. Walked to the check in counter, some members of Japan Airlines dressed in Kimono, wow... Due to the attempt of terrorist attack, baggage screened with extra care. Oh well... There are many people flying today so I had to wait in a long line but finished by 11:15am, the person at the counter did not tell me that I have a window seat. I went up to the deck for a while then walked passed the security, I bought sandwich and tea as my lunch. I wait for boarding until 11:45am, watching Hakone Ekiden on the TV placed in the lounge.
|MuSky 300 at Nagoya station||Express Shinano from JR|
Kadomatsu at Centrair
|Looking to the south of the airport||Looking to the north of the airport, Lufthansa is departing|
|Sandwich and hot tea for lunch||Ekiden is on TV|
The boarding to the plane started around 12:30pm. Each passengers are greeted by staffs in Kimono, nice. I took my seat at 12:37pm. The plane was very much full so no free seat around me. The plane was pushed back at 12:55pm and start taxing down south. After a short taxi, the plane took off at 1:00pm. The route to Narita was smooth, and since I cannot see anything outside, I am not sure about the location of the plane. The plane landed at Narita at 1:55pm. The plane taxied to a ramp for disembarking. Took a shuttle bus to nearby entrance. For the most of the case, I can just use a gate for connection flight but they only had domestic ones. I walked toward the terminal 2, and passed the security and immigration at 2:30pm. Now I can walk around,
my JAL flight is departing from gate #5, the B737 next to MD90 at front is the one.
Departure gate, looks like my plane is on time
I walked up to the gate by 2:45pm. Nothing to do until the boarding starts. So I opened up the laptop, found a power outlet I can use, and started updating my blog. I guess there are so many people already have rights to the lounge, I did not get to use it for free. Anyways, I killed the time until 5:00pm, watching planes arriving, and the sky get darker. The U.S. bound plane arrived on 4:10pm.
To be AA154 coming to the gate
The boarding should starts from 6:25pm, I get called to the counter around 6:00pm and being notified that I will be on a business class due to overbooking. I have no complaints. Hahaha. The guy processed the upgrading wore a yellow digital watch. It gave me a strong impression. He told me that he want to make a difference while wearing uniform just like someone else... I don't mind. Before the process starts, passengers were told that there will be bag and body check. I walked up to a public phone and called my dad, telling him know that I am in Narita, getting ready to board. I boarded the plane at 6:20pm, just like being told. I had to open up my bag, then pass through a pat down.
It's nice to be sitting in a business class seat. I can just relax.. The boarding was done and the plane was pushed back at 7:00am, the plane had 6 more in front of us for departure, so the take off was at 7:35pm. I started to use entertainment system, and watch the District 9 but the contents were not suitable for meal so I changed it to the Informant!, which talks about corruptions of AD&M. It was pretty funny. The dinner was okay, much better than what I get for the economy class. I got a seafood noodle, and the last portion, which is the ice cream, was yummy.... After the dinner, I changed the seat to sleep mode and went to sleep around 10:45pm, I did not get up until 3:30am, so I guess I had plenty of sleep.
|Salad and Sushi||Seafood Noodle|
When I get up, the plane was already flying over Vancouver, Canada. The path to the U.S. continent was almost straight. I remembered the captain said not getting a favorable wind today. At 2:30pm local time, a breakfast was served, now we are flying over Dakotas. The plane started the initial descent at 3:15pm The captain announced that Chicago is cloudy and chilly at -8C. I started to wonder the condition at Detroit. The plane passed the airport and headed to east, then made a 180deg left turn over Lake Michigan and heading back for the final approach at 3:40pm, landed 10 minutes later.
The plane taxied for a while then arrived at the gate. I get off and lined up for the immigration process. I had trouble getting my right hand fingerprint read but passed through by 4:20pm, proceeded to the baggage claims. I had to wait for more than 10 minutes until I see my bags. Passed the customs then gave my bags at transfer station at 4:40pm. Going up an escalator, waited for a ride to terminal 3. When the doors to the train opened, cold air rushed into the building, I held my breath for a while... The sun was coming down as I arrived to the terminal, I could see the control tower with orange sky on the back looked pretty.
I passed the security at 5:00pm. Initially I lined up behind of more than 100 people, but a TSA guy came to the crowd, telling us that there is another screening point a few yards with no people. So I walked with others and get screened. Since I tossed my water before the check point, I had to get a new one. I did not feel like eating dinner so only water was enough. The departing time for the flight shows on time, while two previous ones showing they are delayed by one hour. Soon after I arrived at the gate at 5:10pm, I found out that the departing time is postponed by 1 hour, the gate agent explained it was due to air crew delay. So, now I have time so I went to buy a postcard for my friend, otherwise I just sat there and wait patiently. Before 7:40pm (they call it a decision time...), the agent announced of a gate change, so people moved. While I wait, I get news from the TV. There seems to be a nasty weather in northeast, and cold air mass nearby Detroit causing lake effect in NY. They also covers about a security breach at Newark Airport is is now under lockdown. I feel sorry for them...
At 8:00pm, the lady at the counter announced the boarding time is now 8:20pm then to 9:00pm. This is another nightmare. Finally they changed back the gate to G6 and boarding started at 8:55pm. Snow started, and I don't need any further delays. Since the plane was moved from the hunger, it had to get deiced then anti-icing. The flight attendant was kindly explaining that the liquid with red color is the deicing and the green one is the other. The plane finally departed at 9:40pm then took off at 9:50pm The plane headed to the north for a while then reached Milwaukee by 10:05pm, turning to east. I was quite sleepy so I was switching between napping and awake for many times. At 10:30pm, the captain of the plane announced that it is 20 minutes from landing. The airport seems to be under snowy and gusty. As the plane approaches to the airport, I could see the snow flakes flashing lights, and streams of the snow looks like lines of lights. The plane landed safely at 11:50pm. Walked out from the plane and move to the baggage claims in 5 minutes. My bags were one of the first one so I can just take off quick.
AA4309 (the third one to be) at Chicago O'Hare
Once I stepped out from the terminal, I got a ride to the parking. The driver of the shuttle told us that yesterday's low was 3F. I worried that my car won't start but Thank God that my was okay. I left the parking around 12:15am, the lady at the casher did not asked me to pay even I am exiting after the midnight, nice. The road condition was not so bad, just a little snow left on ground, but people drove slow due to gusty wind. I could see snow blew away as cars passed by. Coming home around 1:00am, finding outall the parking lot in front of the apartment complex is taken. Called home to let my dad know that I got home okay. I had to take care of few things so I ended up going to bed around 2:00am. Anyways, another trip safely finished, and need to go back to work from tomorrow.
American cars in Japan...
|Hammer H2||Dodge Durango|
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