24 hours, is a long time to travel.
We flew to Chicago from Louisville, but got delayed on the runway in Louisville; so we had to run in Chicago to make it to our connecting flight to Tokyo… we made it though, and started our ~11.5 hour flight.
The plane ride was fine, in that really long and tiring kinda way. We were good and stayed awake (mostly) in order to sync our sleep cycle with Japan which is almost exactly the opposite of our timezone. The flight was an interesting social experiment (for me at least). People were walking around barefoot, and happy to talk to each other. A few of us made laps around the 747 (airplane) and stood around “at the water cooler”. It was kinda neat to see hundreds of people decide that we were all in it together and to let down some of the normal social guards…
So, we got off the plane, got our Rail Passes, and got on the train to Tokyo (the Narita airport is outside Tokyo). We then swtiched trains to the Shinkansen, taking the green line up to Fukushima. — It sounds so simple when I write it down here, but I assure you it was a bit disconcerting, because after the airport, though the signs all had english in them, the people didn’t speak english and would often avoid trying to help you so they didn’t have to deal with not being able to communicate… better to fake that you don’t exist than to create a situation of posible embarassment. It was most pronounced when I was trying to buy a phone card at a Kiosk (actual company name there) and it waited in line 3 times, to have thet cashier stop working the line and start stocking and fidgeting in the back until I left the counter. Eventually I didn’t leave the counter and made the international telephone symbol with the thumb and pinky on my ear, which got me a phone card without problem.
So, we made it to the Shinkansen and rode that for ~1.5 hours. At this point, we were fairly blithering. Anita and Karen were napping heavily and I dropped for a few minutes… I enjoyed looking at the city on the train from the airport to Tokyo, but by the time we were on the train to Fukushima it was dark and I couldn’t see much. I listened to some “learn Japanese” for a while and some music… and tried to remain lucid with varying levels of effectiveness.
We made it to Fukushima and April was there waiting for us. We said hello, but didn’t have time for a 6 month absense greeting as we had to run to catch the connecting train to Koori-Machi (an outskirt of Fukushima). We got the 15 minute ride over with (standing room only) and walked ~4 minutes from the Koori-Machi station to April’s apartment. We unpacked and said hellos and hung out.. trying to put off sleep for as long as possible, to ensure we were on a more normal cycle. Anita and I crashed and burned around 9-10pm local time (8-9am in Louisvlle) and slept like rocks. Karen and April were up until almost midnight. Anita woke for a few hours around 2am, but was able to get back to sleep and everyone feels rested.
We are packing for our overnight trip to Nikko and (hopefully) getting some food real soon. I’ll update when we get back to Koori-Machi with more pictures and story. (I’ve got a few pictures posted on my Japan trip photo album.)