Thursday, December 12, 2013
A Gaijin Returns to Japan
Traveled this time via AIR CANADA and I can't say enough good things about them. From the completely on time flights to the friendly staff-- not one of which uttered the words "eh" they showed what quality service is all about.
Months ago when we got the tickets, Veronica requested low fat meals due to my new diet and unlike the American carriers we've flown with before not only did they remember this they actually served high quality low fat food.
We left Boston at 9am and arrived in Toronto at about 1030 and then caught the flight to Tokyo at Noon.
It's thirteen hours on the plane-- with three meals, several snacks and in seat movies to keep you entertained. I watched Hitchcock's PSYCHO (twice), THE BIRDS, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, several episodes of PARKS AND RECREATION and THE BIG BANG THEORY, DRACULA (1931), a good portion of WOLVERINE, enough of IDENTITY THIEF to write the ending myself and several other films both good and mediocre.
I'd also brought with me several hours of old time radio loaded on my iPod and episodes of KOLCHAK and THE OUTER LIMITS on my iPad. I had several books loaded and sketchbook materials with me to occupy my time.
I did manage to sleep about two hours combined over the course of the flight and if I can offer advice to fellow Gaijin traveling to the land of the rising sun take a daytime flight which will get you there just as the evening is settling in-- you'll have been up nearly 24 hours but can basically go to sleep around 10pm local time (around 8am Boston time) so you get over the jetlag relatively quickly.
I tried it the other way last time-- taking a night flight and arrived in Tokyo seeing blue gargoyles who came and told me I should get some sleep. Not a good thing. We were only in Tokyo about two hours before leaving for our last hour long flight to Nagoya.
The Tokyo Airport is one of the nicest I've been in, but it can't hold a candle to the Nagoya Airport which is laid out like an vintage Japanese village on the second floor and in full Holiday decor in December. It's really beautiful. The mascot appears to be a stubby little flesh colored fella, I'm not going to ask what he's supposed to be, but he's all over the place and available as a stuffed animal and several different figures.
There is enough here to keep you entertained for hours-- if I lived here I would volunteer for nonstop airport pickups. Why can't Boston recognize people want something to do while they're waiting?
The roof of the airport is decorated with thousands of lights-- really an amazing sight. You can walk up among them and even though it's December and night time it's about 30 degrees, cold but not frigid like the weather I left which was hovering around 12 degrees.
Last time I was in Japan I almost had shorts FedEx'd to me because I was so hot (mid-October) this time I may have someone send me a hat!
Hot off the plane we were hungry and spotted a Subway-- now I'm NOT one of those people that goes to New York City and then eats at Wendy's -- but all of the American chains are completely different here in Japan-- as evidenced by this sign;
Yes, SUBWAY Japan has air cooked potato wedges-- something I've been harping on for YEARS about my favorite American sandwich chain. I like Subway, I like that they have very healthy options, I like that the food is kind of fresh and they make it the way you want it-- but I've always whined that they don't offer a decent side- and I don't like chips.
Air Fries, like you can get near Fenway Park would be perfect-- and of course Japan has 'em. They also have better sandwiches;
Scrambled Egg Beef Pastrami Sandwich is out of this world. I would order this everyday if it was closer and unlike America the ingredients seem completely fresh. I've had one too many cold eggs and stale flat breads at my local Subway, but I keep going back-- I just wish they could offer this in the USA.
The following morning I was up about 5 and decided to visit my old friend MISTER DONUT-- I like a donut shop that demands respect, and I'd like to think Sidney Portier would handle the voice of the cartoon mascot "Call me MIIIISTER Donut!"
Sadly, we've parted ways. I walked in and was hit with a cloud of cigarette smoke-- MISTER DONUT has a glass partioned SMOKING area right out of 1967 but they appear to have removed the doors to it and forget that smoke doesn't honor open boundries, so I was out of there as quickly as I walked in.
Have I mentioned my vehement dislike of cigarette smoke? Not only do I think you look like a fool with one hanging out of your mouth, and I recognize its YOUR choice to smoke, but I find it gag inducing and prefer you do it somewhere away from me, preferably on an island somewhere. Oh wait, I guess Japan is an island somewhere-- so I prefer that you do it on a deserted island somewhere, okay, I prefer that you just quit and keep us both healthy- but that's enough of my fascist tendencies for today.
My new favorite drink while I'm here is Calpis-- yup pronounced CAL-PISS -- might have something to do with its inability to break into the US market. It's delicious though, tastes like oranges and I don't know, maybe watery milk? Yes it sounds hideous but it's quite good.
Nearby where we're staying with my brother and his wife is the Lawson 100 Yen Store-- I absolutely love this place-- you can get fresh chicken, steamed and charcoal broiled hot potatoes and black Q-tips all in one place. They've also got pots and pans and like every store here in Japan, art supplies.