On my flight to Frankfurt I met a Japanese girl who had been studying Spanish in Japan for 7 months but got motion sickness from digging in my bag and turning to talk to her was making it worse so I had to stop. I was very anxious, motion sick, tired and just wanted to land already so I could eat and lay down a few minutes anywhere there was some available floor.
I found a less in-the-way place and laid down and was as relaxed as i could get then a group of German or Russian guys sat at the table beside where I was laying and started talking loudly. when i sat up to grab my stuff and board the plane they were asking me something in their language but i had no idea one kid tried asking where I am from in Spanish then they offered me a shot of vodka from their coffee thermos, spilling it all over the floor as they sloppily poured. another guy was saying something about drugs and did the universal, snort-line -of -coke-gesture and i peaceably made my way to the plane; luckily they weren’t headed to Osaka.
This flight, being 10 hours had me even more Anxious and I almost didn’t get on board but I couldn’t let my worries get in my way; japan was going to prove to be a great trip.
Even after encountering turbulence at maximum cruising altitude i just had to accept it and slept as much as possible, which wasn’t much. I got my bag which i checked to find my jacket wasn’t secured in the bungee like net on the outside like I had left it and i was scared my laptop was smashed to pieced after watching the crew load luggage earlier. Turns out someone took my jacket and stuffed it inside.
Since I arrived at 9 and was still sick from the turbulence I chilled out in the airport for about an hour then tried to catch the train to Tennoji Station in Osaka where I was going to meet my buddy Josh from The USF College of Education.
The machine that you use to buy tickets has about 25 buttons and all of them are in Japanese; I gave up, laughed and said, “I guess ill met josh there once I learn how to read Japanese. but i heard someone say Tennoji and pointed up to a big map, from there I figured out what was the Japanese symbol for Tennoji and found the corressponding button…but I still didn’t know how to work the machine but a lady explained to me… in Japanese but with some gestures which worked good enough for me.
I wasnt really sure if i was on the right train but the Japanese american accent of the trains PA system gave me some certainty. The airport is on a man made island; as we crossed a bridge and then rolled past rice field after rice field intermittently spotted with a small vegetable patch. modern houses roofed in traditional, Japanese ,ceramic tile style. along every street was a bike parking area loaded with bikes.
I wandered around looking into stores and restaurants, making my way to the Shittenoji temple. there were some bells being rung which drew my attention so I followed the sound and found a small shine to the dead where people come to honor their lost loved ones.
There is a huge Eiffel toweresque thing on a street that had tons of flashy lights and glittery signs; I was like a mosquito staring at the buzzing zapper lamp. The streets were lined with shops and restaurants serving Kushi Katsu, basically tempura everything on a stick and there was also some porn shop with naked women pictures all over the windows. I was tired but didn’t want to just waste more time sitting in train station so i wandered through a park but turned around to not get too lost.
On the way back a flat bed truck puled up and three guys jumped out and started frantically loading bikes into the back of the truck. i cant read Japanese but i think the paper taped to the floor where the bikes said, “DON’T PARK HERE!”
I was tired of walking so I just sat for about an hour, half dozing, half looking for interesting pictures to shoot. Some gardeners came and in 5 minutes flat tore out old plants from a huge tree planter in the station and dropped in new ones.
Finally I saw josh come through the exit so we headed back towards his place on a different train. He said I was the first guest that he didn’t have to baby and pick up directly from the airport. we talked all the way home for me like there had been no time since we left college.
At his station, Horuji, we had to go to the bike parking garage or covered lot and pick up his bike and we walked about 15-20 minutes crossing raised paths between rice fields, hearing periodic shouts of “Ja-Shwa”. One of the students we stopped and talked to was from Spain but had been living in Japan for 5 years.
We dropped my bag and checked out the neighborhood shrine and went to the convenient store to grab a snack. 7-11 is huge here and the convenient store culture is thriving.
I stayed up as late as I could watching a Tai movie Josh downloaded but my eyes were too heavy to finish. finally at 9 Josh said I could go to sleep; he had been keeping me awake so I don’t screw up my sleep pattern.