Japan Journal: Day 0- Lost in the Airport
Updated: Jan 25, 2018
Where does an adventure begin? Does it begin when my plane takes off? Shaking and jittery at it begins it's near Mach 1 speed flight to the other side of the world?
Does it begin when my alarm goes off that day, and I wake up after only two and a half hours of sleep on a couch that's approximately half the size of my body, and on which, all things considering, I actually slept pretty well? Does the adventure wait patiently until I've showered and slipped out the door, feeling guilty that I didn't wake my cousin and his wife to tell them I was going? Or at least to tell them to lock the door behind me?
My amazing, talented cousin Cody.
Or does the adventure begin at 3:10pm the day before the flight? When the bell rings and all my Freshmen rush eagerly out the door. One or two yell, "Have a good time in Japan, Mr. Rhodes!" and another one chimes in, "Bring us candy!" Does it begin when the loose flesh of Mr. Rhodes crackles and flakes away from me like a molting snakes skin, and I walk out of my classroom, not as Mr. Rhodes, but as the real me. The adventurer. The wanderer. The wonderer. The writer. The silent observer. The guy who creates too many names for himself. With a camera and a notebook and no one to talk to, probably because of that names thing. Something both sadder than Mr. Rhodes and greater. But more importantly, truer.
Maybe it begins that morning, with a rising ball of nausea welling up in my stomach as I search for Sightglass Coffee. I get a cup of coffee and two slices of their gluten free almond cake. If I would have known that would be the only thing I'd eat for the rest of the day, I would have gotten more. Like, a third piece or something.
One twelve-hour plane ride, and four movies later (Midnight Diner 2, The Good Morning Show, Moana, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), I land in Japan.
I write in my journal along the way. About my fears that the trip's going to suck. Or that I'll be lonely. Or that the plane will crash . Or how amazed at how fast it's going. Or how I can see the Alaskan peninsula from my window seat.
But mostly, I try to figure out the time difference without Googling it (it took me hours and I got it wrong because MATH.)
When I land, I'm tired and sweaty. The airport doesn't feel air conditioned. In customs, a voice overhead says in English (and presumably other languages), if you have any flu like symptoms such as upset stomach, fever, or excessive sweating, please report this to customs immediately. Yeah, that's going to happen.
I got through customs then I got lost. I had arranged for a ride to take me to my hotel. They are supposed to be standing in front of the escalator with a sign but they are not. (Turns out I went down the wrong escalator.)
Also the sim card I bought to work in Japan doesn't work. I can't figure out why. I can't get a hold of anyone. I can't find my ride. I can't find anything. I can't even go on instrgram and send a selfie to tell everyone I'd arrived and how jealous they should be of me. I just got to Japan and I'm beyond fatigued, confused, no one speaks English, a giant Pikachu is laughing at me, and I'm lost as fuuuuuuuck.
I try to find the airport information kiosk, but they don't speak English. Also, since my phone won't get signal, I can't even pull up the name of the company who's supposed to give me a ride. So I go outside.
It strikes me then that I really am in a new country. A divine breeze is cooling my sweaty brow and I am so thankful for its touch.
I recompose myself. I'm in a new country. Even if I'm lost and exhausted, I'm going to have fun with it. So I do what I was always planning on doing once I got to my hotel anyways: I wander.
I start walking around, not caring where I'm going. I find the JR Rail office and pick up the train pass I'm going to be using while I'm there. (I also see the train station and it looks like the busiest, scariest thing I've ever seen!) I wander over to a vending machine and buy the weirdest looking drink I can find in it. (A dubious looking drink called "Pocari Sweat," that tastes just like you'd imagine), and then I wandered around to every counter in the terminal saying, "Drew Rhodes?" and pointing at myself like I was unsure of who I was and needed them to confirm it.
Then finally, mercifully, I got to a booth, pointed to myself, said my name, and they eagerly said back, "Andrew Rho-des!"
Thank -fucking- God, I'd finally found my ride. I mean I know I said all that shiz about just enjoying myself, but I was starting to get legit worried!
This pic really captured my state of mind at this point.
It was a longer trip there than I thought, and though I tried to enjoy the city scape and country sides of this odd new country I was in, I was so out of it, I was barely conscious of it for any of it.
Finally, we pulled into this crazy crowded street that was super well lit up and bustling with foot traffic. it looked like we had parked in the middle of an outdoor mall. The car stopped.
Surely, this couldn't be it? In the mall??? But there it was, larger then life: Centurion Hotel Cabin and Spa. My home away from home for the next few days.
I checked in. Shoved my bigger bag into the tiny locker provided. Took my camera gear into my cabin, curled up with it like it was a baby, and went to bed.
Then I got up! Because there was one last thing I had to do! I broke out my camera, stuck a flash on that bad boy, stuck it on my selfie stick, and then snapped a picture. My very first night in Japan, sleeping in my coffin hotel. Tired. Beat Up. Starving. But I'd survived. I'd kept a cool head. I had fun.
And I fell asleep.