Japan Trip 2011 - June  (Last updated on 2011/07/09)

2011/06/08-09 Going home for a break

Going to the airport

I could not sleep well due to drinking too much green tea last night. I was on and off for the whole night. I got up at 6:15am. The sky is patchy cloudy but looks good. Began washing my bed linings so they won't be stinky while I am gone, I also did an extra load so I don't have to worry about any clothes I need to take them to Japan. While taking care of them, I stretched my body, ate breakfast, took a shower. Took out the trash before leaving the apartment at 7:20am. It was already warm and humid, but okay. Dropped off my pants at a cleaner at 7:30am, continue heading to the office. I checked emails, shook hand with coworkers and I left to the airport at 8:00am. Driving under some stormy causing look clouds and arrived at the parking in 25 minutes. Get on a shuttle bus which had to pick up many more people before leaving the facility so my clock was showing 8:50am, 2 hours prior to the departure time, as it head to the terminal E. Arrived at the check in counter, dropped off my bag but the boarding pass did not come out from the machine. They had to reprint them for me.

Morning in Houston, on the way to work...

Lined up for the security screening, which was not so crowded so very little wait. After buying water and some magazines, I walked to the familiar gate, the E7. I get my passport check at 9:05am. I have about 2 hours until departure. I powered up PC for catch up work. The wireless network is open for American Express cardholders. Although I did not see many people around the gate, the flight is expected to be full.

Flight to Narita: CO7 IAH(10:50am) - NRT(2:20pm, 9th)

Getting onboard the CO7

The boarding began around 10:00am and I was allowed in about 15 minutes later. I took a seat at 10:20am. The plane departed on time at 10:50am, taxied, and took off to south at 11:05am. The plane passed Beltway 8, turned to the right to change heading to north then began flying along with I-45 for a while then changed heading to northwest.

Taxing on the pavement Crossing on Beltway 8
Turning right at south of IAH Climbing above the clouds

The plane gained the altitude, and continue to cruise. It flew by Dallas at 11:30am, as I was watching a movie called Adjustment Bureau. It was funny yet thrilling, one of those what if big brothers is, kind of the story. The lunch was served while the movie was on (12:45pm CDT). After that, I very much have nothing to do. So I changed to Green Hornet and continue watching it.

Dallas Farm Land
Lunch Flying over Colorado?

The plane flew over looks like a part of Colorado, then kept going. I took naps and wake up as the plane passing by Alaska. Night snack was served but I did not want it. So I kept taking naps.


The plane kept flying and safely reached off Japan's main island. As it fly by Fukushima, my thoughts are toward those people who got affected. About 1 more hour to Narita, breakfast was served and monitor began showing the procedure video for customs and immigration.

Flying east of Fukushima Breakfast

Plane entered Japanese soil at 1:45pm by flying south of Kashima stadium. The plane proceeded to the west and turned left to Narita's runway 16R, approaching from the north. The plane landed at 1:55pm. Taxied to the gate in 5 minutes. I am back in Japan.

Flying over Japan's soil Landing at Narita

Getting out from the plane and proceeded to the passport check. Passed without an issue and got down to pick up my bag. Unlike last time, I was able to locate mine very quick. The only thing I had trouble with was with the customs agent, since I filled out an English version, he checked all the pages inside the passport... I exited through a door to make a drop off of my bag for the connection. I was hoping to get on one earlier flight but kindly declined. I guess there is a high demand and I did not buy ticket from ANA...

Flight to Nagoya: CO4487 NRT(6:05pm) - NGO(7:15pm)

As I was walking toward the connecting gate, realized that the entire building is a bit dimmer than usual, then I remembered that Japanese companies are asked to save 15% on electricity due to shut down of nuclear power plants. In addition, the security screening for the domestic flights are not open until 3:00pm. I arrived at the entrance for the screening about 30 minutes before they resume the operation. I guess, this is another way of conserving the electricity then. Passed the screening and arrived at the waiting lounge at 3:15pm. The room's air was humid and not circulated well, in addition to the dimmed light, it make me feel a bit sick. The good (bad?) thing is that all the electrical outlet are still available to use. I used it to charge my PC and iPhone. I do, felt guilty, a bit but at the same time, they could actually seal them off.

dimmed light and uncomfortable air

It was quite a pain to just sitting and waiting in this kind of environment. Watched people called to get on another plane going to Nagoya leaving at 4:30pm. Too bad that I cannot change the flight to that one. Nothing else I can do, so I waited for my turn by typing up a bit of the travel log and also bought bottled sport drink and rice ball (150 + 140 Yen) as my dinner. While I was waiting, I saw some high school students from the U.S. making a trip to Okinawa. An instructor was telling them all the rules they have to follow, after it was done, he sat down and started to drinking beer with coworker. Oh, man. It would never happen in Japanese school, though.

The boarding for the flight started around 5:45pm, people get on a couple buses and moved to the spot. The plane left the spot on time and started to taxing toward the same runway which my previous plane landed. After letting a Lufthansa cargo plane land, the plane took off at 6:20pm to south, passed south of the Haneda at 6:30pm, flew by Mt. Fuji shined down by the sun setting, at 6:40pm. It was a pretty view. I had to take pictures.

Lufthansa landing Departing Narita
Mt. Fuji      

Since the wind was coming from south, the plane took a northern route and flew over hometown area at 6:55pm, then over downtown to Nagoya, turned toward the airport near Nagashima Spa Land. Plane landed at 7:00pm, I walked out from the plane 10 minutes later, called my dad to let him know that I am back in Nagoya. Picked up my bag at 7:20pm. Time to head home.

Flying over hazy Nagoya, I could see Shirakawa park Nagashima Spa land

Arrived at Centerair...

Coming home

Pokemon themed MuSKY

I walked to the train station. There is a MuSky 251 scheduled to leave at 7:36pm, so I paid 1,200Yen and bought the ticket. I had about 10 minutes before the train departs, so I bought a bottled water, but instead of tea. Taking caffeine may not be the good idea right now if I want to sleep. When I took seat, I felt finally relaxed. The ride to Nagoya was only 30 minutes then I just need to take a bus to home. The train started to moving under twilight then soon the outside turned to dark. It only stopped at few stations before arriving at Nagoya. I saw people lining up at platform for their train home. Arriving Nagoya on time at 8:05pm, then I walked out from the car and proceeded to the bus stop. When I walked up to the bus stop, there is one leaving at 8:20pm. I get on it and watched Nagoya downtown under night light as it cruises, soon the bus reached to the stop I need to get off. Walked to home around 9:00pm. The front yard is taped off because they already did measuring. At home, chat with my dad for a while, took a shower and brushed my teeth. Going to bed around 9:45pm.

2011/06/10 Traveling to Hyogo

Morning: Taking down old furniture

I woke up around 3:30am, it was because of the jet lag so I cannot help it. Decided to get up at 4:20am. The outside was getting brighter and I could felt the difference from the last January visit to Nagoya. Had breakfast with my dad, started to check mails kept while I was away and then proceeded to break down a kiri dansu of my grandma. Since I have not called my brother last night to let him know that I am back, I called on his cell phone because he should be at work by now. I thought taking down an old furniture is easy but the thing was build to last. It only had total of less than 20 iron nails and majority of them are nails made from bamboo. Only other metallic parts used were locks and handles. These kind of tansu are said to be passed down the generations. Too bad that there is no daughter or granddaughter in our house. I put the broken pieces in combustible trash bags so the sanitation department can take care of them. However, before it was all finished, a sanitation department truck came and picked trash up for our area. I guess I have to put the rest on the next week. Had lunch between the work and finally finished taking down the tansu at 2:30pm. I have to take down a bookshelf also but I guess I can do this far today. Called my grandma to let her know that I am back in Nagoya. We now plan to meet up on Monday.

Afternoon: Going to Hyogo: Hikari 475 Nagoya(4:11pm) - Nishi-Akashi(5:30pm)

Took a shower to get myself refreshed, and changed my clothes to a regular one. Packed for the trip and headed out at 3:15pm to catch a bus arriving at 3:29pm. I had to wait for the bus to come until 3:38pm. The bus was going to Nagoya terminal straight so I guess I saved some time. Walked in to the JR station and bought a round trip ticket at a vending machine. When I get up to the platform, a Hikari 475 leaving Nagoya at 4:11pm was arriving so I get on it. The car was not filled so it was easy ride. I did not have a chance to buy drink before getting onboard, so I bought a bottled tea from in car service. The train stopped at Kyoto, then I saw a blimp in the sky, which is pretty cloudy. I was told that weather may become rainy, even severe in the evening. Stopped at Shin-Osaka around 5:00pm by that time I saw some rain drops on the window, short stop at Shin-Kobe, and finally arrived to Nishi-Akashi at 5:30pm. Walked out from the train station. I wanted to walk around before the rain really starts but I also needed to check company emails, so I checked in at a hotel by the station. Turned off my PC, checked emails, downloaded a software on my IC recorder to update the firmware. Having no internet connection at home makes things difficult.

Hikari 475 arriving at Nagoya A Metlife blimp

Evening: Drinking Party

At the hotel, I was able to checked emails, and the weather on the web. One of my coworkers picked the place for drinking so I left Nishi-Akashi around 6:45pm to go to Akashi by a local train. I saw one of them in the crowd as I was walking out from the station so we walked under slight rain together toward the restaurant. There were total of 7 people and we stayed for 2 hours there, giving them American candies and some other company goodies, then moved to another Yakitori place for the second session. We all left around midnight under heavy rain. The trains are all late because of an accident in Yamashina in the evening. Come back to the hotel room, turned on the PC and checked email. Called coworkers in the U.S. office for the follow up. Finally going to bed around 1:40am.

2011/06/11 in Nagoya

Morning: Walking around, Coming back to Nagoya

Woke up at 3:00am, but stayed in bed until 4:15am. I then got up and turned on the PC and recorded materials I need to pick up online for my self study. Went outside at 6:40am and walked out under rain to take pictures of the apartment I used to live and also the laundry I used a lot last year. The rain was unpleasantly falling hard so I had to cut my plan short and came back to the hotel. Ate breakfast at the 2nd floor, returned to my room and began packing my belongings for the returning trip. I took shower and checked out from the hotel at 7:40am, I think I can catch one leaving at 7:47am to Nagoya.

The apartment I used to live back in 2010 Laundry I used many, many times last year.

I walked up to the entrance of the station under rain, bought a gift for my relatives at the only store open in the morning. Passed the gate and walked up to the platform. The Hikari 462, scheduled to leave Nishiakashi at 7:47am was just arriving as I reached there. The departure was on time and the train started to leave Akashi under rain. Since this train stops at Maibara and Gifu-Hashima, I guessed that I should switch train at Shin-Osaka so I can get home earlier. The train stopped at Shin-Kobe before arriving at Shin-Osaka at 8:11am. I got out from the train and waited about 6 minutes to change to Nozomi 112. The train passed the Hikari as it was passing by at Maibara at 8:50am, then arrived to Nagoya on time at 9:07am.

Hikari 462 at Nishi-Akashi Raining outside
Switching to Nozomi 112 Rain is over

I walked out from JR station and proceeded to city transit's subway station. Thank god that I am not carrying a lot of stuffs now. Caught a train leaving at 9:17am, and it arrived to the station nearby my house at 9:35am. I had to wait about 10 minutes before the but going to my home's direction leave so I waited under cloudy sky. Took a bus back, found out that the property where a Royal Host restaurant was there is now demolished and an open space. Getting off from the bus and walked back home just before 10:00am. For the rest of the morning, I attended my dad talking with a cable TV company representative about the internet and phone services for the new house. Because of the fiber optic networks available today, we can bundle them together, it could result in a saving. The rain stopped by noon.

Afternoon: Moving trees by three men

My brother came to the house around 1:00pm then we decided to move two trees. My dad did most of the work already so trench was dug around them. One was a rose tree, always gave us flowers in time for my brother's birthday, which was not so bad. We inserted a wood board under it and used cantilever to lift it. Carried it to the place use to be a compost. The second tree was bigger, and the building planner even told my dad that he needs to use a small excavator to take care of it. Well, I guess we cannot afford that for only one job. Three guys tried for 30 minutes but could not move. I did full workout on my brain, and found a way to move it by using two sets of smooth wood panels and a vinyl cover. I used them as sliding boards, which was a success. I have to say I am as smart as an ancient Egyptian! I guess the job well done.

Evening:  Three victors(?) at Chinese restaurant

For the evening, went out with my dad and brother to a Chinese restaurant nearby the house around 5:45pm. There is no people in the store. We ordered some dishes and started to drink. The beer tasted better than anything before maybe because I worked out very hard in the afternoon. Disappointing thing is that the all the plates were salty. The sign on the store say, family style, I guess I have to agree... Come home around 7:00pm. My dad was watering the trees to keep them alive. In the evening, I had no desire of working on my projects, so I set timer on washing machine, took care of dishes then went to bed around 8:00pm.

2011/06/12 in Nagoya

Morning: Community Cleaning and Home project

Woke up at 3:30am, stayed in the bed for a while but had to get up. Took out the laundries out for drying and get ready for the day. I had to join community cleaning between 9 and 10 then I went back to my project to remove rusts on the poles. Because of the concern over the rain, I had to move it under a covered area. I walked to Hi-Ace, a local DIY store, to buy drill sander bit, rust-stop paint and a small wire brush. As I was walking toward the store, I found that one of the convenience store is closed. Things changes as the time passes. I finished to remove most of the rusts, and applied a coat of rust-stop on them.  Had lunch with my dad at home, then I went back to my project.

Afternoon: Taking down another furniture

Continue painting two pole stands for the drying bars. I applied the first coat without diluting the paint with water so it did not come out good. Waited for the paint to dry until 2:30pm while taking down a bookshelf from the second floor, which my dad said it was one of the oldest furniture in the house. After finishing the work, I took a shower and get refreshed with new clothes.

Evening: Dinner with friends

Walked out from the house at 6:00pm with an umbrella because of the slight rain. Began walking toward a restaurant called Furaibo nearby Hoshigaoka. Total of four people from elementary school had fun just chatting over our everyday lives, everybody seems to be still single after all. One of the common issues we had was mystery about newly hired employees does not last for 5 years. They tended to switch jobs. However, non of us know where they went, since all we know is none hiring them. So where do they go? Finished the party with eating ice creams at 10:00pm, we all went home under slight rain. I got home at 10:30pm, went to after brushing my teeth.

2011/06/13 in Nagoya (Last day)

Morning: Going to see my grandma, uncle and aunt

Woke up at 3:40am again. Rain was still falling but stopped around 4:00am. Got up at 5:00am, stretched my body and reorganized my stuffs a bit. Had breakfast with my dad, washed the dishes. Updated my blog for about 30 minutes in the morning. I have nothing to read since today is a no newspaper day. Took a shower, then headed to a bus stop around 9:50am. The bus was late by 13 minutes. I guess they never be on time anymore. Running in downtown in weekday traffic was not so much trouble, arrived at Nagoya terminal at 10:35am. Walked down the stairs and got to Meitetsu station. Had to wait a bit but get on a train leaving at 10:45am. On the way to see my grandma, the view from the train was a familiar one. Getting off at the station nearby my grandma's house. Arrived there around 11:30am. Chat a bit while waiting for my uncle to show up.

Sakae, downtown of Nagoya

Afternoon: Shopping at Sakae

We took a car and visited a newly built shopping mall by a subway station. We had a Chinese food. Get a ride to my uncle's house to check out their home improvements. Well, it's time to go. My uncle took me to a nearby subway station. I could go home straight but today I wanted to buy items before heading back to the U.S. Getting on a subway train at 2:07pm, changed the train at Imaike at 2:20pm toward Sakae. I had a few minutes on transit.

Arriving at Sakae around 2:40pm, I bought textbooks, for the program I was studying, at Maruzen. I needed to buy some shirts but most of the department store was selling them for more than 5,000 yen per shirt to I used iPhone to locate a Yofuku no Aoyama, where I can save some money. Because of the upcoming father's day, they had many items on sale. I was able to buy three shirts for 10,600Yen, about 2/3 the price. Walked out at 3:20pm then headed to a cell phone store to see if they have any good deals. I wanted to switch my phone plan from prepaid to regular one but the issue was I had to buy a new phone to get the cheapest deal, which is around 1,000yen per month base fee. I gave up this time but bought a 10,000yen worth of credit which should be good for another year. I felt like I wasted 30 minutes at the store. Now it's time to go back home. Took a subway back to Hoshigaoka but had to stop by at couple of places before I head home for good. I walked to Mitsukoshi department store first to buy toy construction machines then to Yamada-Denki appliance store for groceries. Took a bus back to home around 5:00pm. I guess I need to pack them so I can come back to the U.S. Had dinner with my dad, went to bed around 10:00pm.

2011/06/14 Coming back to the U.S.

Morning in Nagoya

Woke up at 4:00am, I guess I never got rid of the jet lag for the entire time I was in Japan. Had breakfast with my dad, did the dish and started to clean the rooms. I do not need to leave until late in the morning so I tried to do whatever I can do to help my dad. While I was walking around the house, I found that a couple of locations I missed to paint on the bars I did yesterday so I took care of it. Crews from a construction company came in around 9:00am and started to work on the yard. I guess today is the day one for the new house. After I get done with most of the house works I can do, I took shower to get myself refreshed for the returning trip.

Going to the airport

 I shook hand with my dad, and left around 10:40am to walk to the nearby bus stop to catch one to Nagoya. I hopped on one at 10:52am which was three minutes behind, then arrived to Nagoya terminal station at 11:25am. Took an elevator and walked to the Meitetsu train station. I seems to miss 11:31am one just like the last time, so I was there at ticketing window, paid 1,200 Yen to buy one for MuSky 26, departing Nagoya at 11:50am and expected to arrive at the airport at 12:18pm. The train departed on time and stopped by at Kanayama and Jingu-Nishi. After that, it was a non-stop ride. Riding on the train under a bit hazy sky, it was a familiar scenes. After arriving at the airport, I proceeded to the check in counter.

MuSky 26 at Nagoya Arriving at Central International Airport

Flight to Narita: CO4488 NGO(3:10pm JST) - NRT(4:25pm JST)

Since I bought plane ticket from Continental Airlines, the code share flight needed to be checked and confirmed. I asked if I could get extra time on connection at Narita, the receptionist bumped me in one flight earlier, this is lucky since I only had one hour. Now I will be flying on NH340 departs at 2:25pm, arriving at Narita at 3:30pm. This is good. She took care of the whole process smoothly, and now I can let my bag go. I like Japanese customer service. Walked to the security and passed with no trouble, walked up to several stores hunting for my lunch and gift to coworkers. Called my dad to let him know that I got to the airport safe around 12:50pm. My dad seems to be okay dealing without me. For the lunch, I bought a sandwich and water. In addition, I bought a boxed snack for my coworkers. There are many foreign visitors trying to go to Narita waiting by the gate just like me.

Ebifurya, a joke snack which is a cream filled one, originally a shrimp fries, 1050Yen Water and Ham sandwich (120+260 Yen)

NH340 at Centrair

Boarding at 2:10pm, getting ready to push back by 2:20pm. Took off in the air at 2:30pm to the north. The plane turned to left and circled around the airport before heading to east. The plane flew over Toyota's Tahara plant, which's parking for new inventory was very low, I guessed which is due to lack of parts arriving to the factory. We flew south side of Hamana lake then kept going, passing Nijima by 2:55pm, turned toward Narita and feet dry at 3:20pm, flew east side of the airport then turned toward south, landed at 3:30pm. The plane had to stop at a lamp so we took a bus to the terminal.

Leaving NGO Toyota's plant. Parking not filled due to lack of parts from earthquake Hamana Lake Niijima
Reaching shore by Chiba Turning toward

Safely landed at Narita

Flight to San Francisco: CO4458 NRT(5:25pm JST) - SFO(10:45am PDT)

Get off from bus at 3:40pm and proceeded to the screening. Waiting in a long line, even had some people needed to get priority so they will not be late. At 4:05pm, I passed screening and walked to passport check. Walking out from the screening process at 4:10pm. Now I am inside the terminal gates. Checked the gate information to make sure I will be at the right gate and timing. Since I arrived here earlier, I have some extra time to be around. I walked around and bought magazines for my friend in the U.S.  before coming to the gate 55 at 4:20pm.

NH8/CO4458 at Narita Lined up for the boarding, this is going to take a while...

It was All Nippon Airway flight code share, so it is called a NH8. The boarding started at 4:55pm, I had to wait for the people with priority to get in first. The flight was almost full and I took a window seat at very last row. I know this seat will recline only a bit but I have no choice and the flight is shorter than going to Houston, so I decided to bear with it. However, lucky with me that there was a woman, guessing the wife of the guy sitting next to me, wanted to switch the seat and she had a window seat. Well, I have no complain, I just agreed. Good for both, or all three then? The plane took off to south at 5:40pm. Let's go back to the U.S.

Leaving Narita Leaving Japanese soil

Sun is still high but soon it will be dark...

The flight back to the U.S. was not a bad one, the screen at the seat was pretty outdated so not much fun around. I simply enjoyed the music. There was a program for Fripside and AKB48, both are now pretty popular in Japan. Dinner was served at 7:20pm (JST) and the plane kept going. I wonder how much rest I got, but I woke up for the breakfast 8:30am(PDT) and opened up a window shade to monitor outside. I saw a first grips of west coast shore line at 9:30am, plane flew along the shore, and over by San Francisco at 9:50am. The plane took a course to fly by Stanford University then made a left turn to head north toward the airport. The plane landed at 10:05am.

Dinner Breakfast

Arriving the U.S. shore north of San Francisco.

San Francisco, CA Stanford University...

Landed at SFO

After getting off from the plane, I proceeded to the immigration and customs. The line was pretty long and ended up waiting for 20 minutes before I get my passport checked. Walked to baggage claims and picked up mine, passed through the customs and headed to the bag transfer for connection. I dropped it off and decided to go to the Continental counter to see if I could come home on an earlier flight.

Flight to Houston CO1869 SFO(5:50pm) - IAH(11:30pm)

I did not want to wait too long, so I walked up to the front desk around 11:15am for Continental and negotiated. There is an opening for earlier flight but they cannot issue me a ticket since I already checked my bag when I walked out from the customs. I waited until noon then I got a call and received a ticket. Now my flight is CO1669, which leaves here at 2:20pm instead of 5:50pm (and scheduled to arrive at 8:13pm). I was so happy when I received the ticket, I can come home early. I gathered my stuffs and proceeded to the security screening for the gate, which was a one long line...

Another long, long line of wait.

While I was waiting, I thought why this airport is so congested and I am pretty sure that some people will be late. Soon a part of the waiting line, including me was transferred to another check point so we can proceed first. The people supposed to follow the staff but many got lost, so I was able to skip crowds and passed the security quick. It only took 5 minutes and pretty sure it was a lot faster than just staying in the line. The catch was the long walk to the gate. It took a while and finally arrived around 12:30pm. I had plenty of time until boarding but there is no free wi-fi available, in addition, my left eye hurts so waiting here for the flight was not so pleasant.

I guess I must have lost track of the time, when I realized, the plane was letting people in around 2:10pm, so I approached to the gate and get on board. I got a window seat again waited for the departure. The plane took off to the north at 2:45pm, turned to east then kept going. Not much to see and I was tired so I took naps while the plane is in the air. Approached to stormy clouds which is a huge chunk, even a plane took precaution so it maneuvered around.

Leaving San Francisco Seeing snow covered mountains in distance

Stormy cloud

After passing the stormy clouds, the plane kept going but the last portion was something I was not sure how it flew around. I see the plane making turns but only realized where I was at where the plane headed to the final. I saw the airport facility and landed at 8:30pm. Taxied for a while then arrived at a gate. My trip is over. I just need to drive home.

Returning to Houston under twilight Safely landed at IAH

Coming home

Picking up my bag, tried to get on a shuttle bus for the parking but it was leaving as I come out. I had to wait for maybe 5 more minutes. One of the passenger forgot where he parked so all other people had to join a fun ride until he finds his car. I get on my car and left the airport as the sun was coming down. Since my left eye is irritated, driving under dark was easier than driving under sunny sky. Arrived home after buying dinner at Kroger around 9:30pm. This is much better than coming home around midnight. Called my dad to let him know that I got home safe. Went to bed after taking a quick shower.


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