Every journey must start at the beginning, so that's just where this one will begin.
The whole idea of a trip to Japan started as a discussion between my friends Tim and Jason about a year ago. As time went on, school became more of a focus in Jason's life and thus Tim brought the idea of the trip to me. I immediately agreed that I would join him on this adventure. However, Tim was a bit worried that I wouldn't commit. It's easier to say you're going to Japan than to actually get up and go. I'll never forget his words as we talked about Japan, "If you say you're going I'm holding you to it!"
That was about all of the motivation that I needed. After more planning and discussion we presented the idea to our friend Patrick who, despite the predictions of Tim and myself, agreed to the idea and followed through. Months passed and the trip was only a couple of days away. Now, it seems that no matter how well you plan or prepare for an event, something always goes wrong. Usually it’s just a small something. Maybe you forgot to bring a toothbrush, maybe you couldn’t get a ride to airport, or maybe you lost your luggage. For me, it was two days before our flight had to leave. In an effort to take care of some last minute things around my house, I decided it was a good idea to try and fix my garage door. While in the process of putting things back together, I must have twisted the wrong way and pulled a muscle in my back. I’m not really sure that it was a pulled muscle- maybe something was twisted or town – either way, I was in some of the worst pain of my life. But, I believe that our emotional and physical state in 90% mental, 8% physical, and 2% spiritual. The spiritual part may play a great role for some than others, but in my case, 2% about does it. So, on a steady supply of Robax and hot pads, I've been keeping a positive mind as myself and my friends head to the airport.
We arrived at the airport with time to spare, so we decided to grab a quick breakfast at Tim Horton’s. This would be my last Tim Horton’s coffee for the next three weeks. A small part of me was sad. We then sat down at our gate number only to find out that it had changed. While we waited, I spotted a sparrow inside the airport. I thought it to be significant somehow, but I’m not too certain as to why.
Our flight began boarding almost twenty minutes late. While we waited for our row number to be called, we were all a bit surprised when our names were called to inform us of a seat change. At first, I was a bit ticked off since we booked specific seats. However, I was in a better mood when we boarded the plane to discover we each had a row to ourselves in the tail end of the plane.
Take off was pretty smooth, which is good since I honestly don’t like flying. Were it possible to drive to Japan, I would do it. As the flight went on, our empty end of the plane began to fill up as people from the other sections migrated to the back to stretch out a bit. During the first six hours, I probably didn’t stretch enough. My back was still quite sore and stiff, but I knew that it would be feeling better with some more time.
The fortunate thing about our flight was that we had a good selection of movies. I was finally able to watch James Cameron’s Avatar, a film which I had missed during the theatrical run due to tickets usually being sold out. For a Hollywood blockbuster, it was pretty good. Classic story retold in a new and exciting way. Also, Sigourney Weaver still has it going on. Mm-hm! Also had the chance to watch Up In The Air, Couples Retreat, and most of Fantastic Mr. Fox.
After a grueling 12+ hour flight we finally arrived in Narita where we began the long process of waiting to go through customs. It really only took about 30 minutes, but it felt like ages. After that, it was a quick wait to get our JR passes and tickets for the next train to Shinjuku. It took about an hour on the train from Narita to Shinjuku, and I actually saw a fair bit of graffiti once we got to the Shibuya. The ride was smooth and we caught the right connecting subway train without issue. After a short walk, we found the hostel in which we were staying for the first couple of nights.
Our room was on the 18th floor looking out over part of Shinjuku. The people running the hostel were all very nice. The old gentleman was the coolest one, though. His hair was dyed this grayish blue color and he spoke to us only in English. He gave us directions on where to go if we wanted burger joints or Japanese food. We grabbed some food a convenience store and ate in our room. After our dinner, Tim decided to take a bath, Patrick went to check out how well the Wi-Fi here works, and I sat down to type all of this up. Also, we’re sharing our hostel room with this older Japanese fellow. He speaks no English, but seems like a cool guy. Every time he has come into the room tonight, he’s been greeting us with ‘Kombanwa.’