Acazia Official Japan Blog – Land of the Rising Sun

Before I could make it to Japan, we landed in Russia. Playing ‘Katyusha’ the moment the wheels hit the tarmac seemed right. I had a full day layover in Moscow (such is the counter for such a cheap flight.) For over 14 hours, I wandered about the airport. Firstly, the wifi was sketchy, and not in the bad connection sort of way. To log on I was asked to upload a picture of my passport and agree to the “storage and processing of personal data.” Yeah that’s going to be a hard no. Maybe I could have left, but I didn’t look much into it. I may have needed to pay for a Visa to leave, which would have been pointless for so little a venture, and then go back through security to reenter. So I napped, wrote a bit and powered through my playlist. One last note about the airline I flew with; I was almost surprised. The flight was fantastic (would fly again) and dayum dem Russian flight attendants nice.

Over the horizon, the powerful Mt. Fuji came into view. Playing ‘Ignite’ the moment the wheels hit the tarmac seemed right. Security was no problem, and after passing the sign Welcome to Tokyo, I may have squealed a little. Ok time to find my- crap, I didn’t download my offline map. Thankfully, the wifi at Narita Airport didn’t insinuate I would be stalked by the secret police. Right, there’s my place, got the route saved, let’s go catch the train. With Suica card in hand, and quickly getting off the wrong train before it left, I rode the rickety rails and hour into Tokyo.

Something kicked in on that train ride though. It may have been culture shock, but it felt more than that. I was scared. I’d been nervous going to other countries before, but this feeling was totally different. I was an obvious foreigner; a tourist. In Europe I could blend in, but here in Asia, I look- what’s the right way to say this- out of place? And that feeling stuck with me for days. Luckily, my first place gave me a warm reception.  

Tak, the owner of the bnb, was super chill. It was outside greater Tokyo in more of a suburbs area. We talked a bit and I felt a little more comfortable when I had somewhere to rest my head. At the little mall down the road, I replaced my headphones with cheaper yet better ones. I hopped between a few stores and got my first taste of authentic Japanese food. The company at the bnb was pleasant too. A trio of Asian guys from Australia I said hi to every morning, an older gentleman that moved around at a greatly reduced pace and a few others in passing.

Down the road opposite of the mall was a river traced by a jogging track. It was a short walk away and past some temples, so it was nice to go to every few days. There wasn’t a ton else to do, save from taking the train into town. I knew I’d be there in a few days, so I took this as more of a period of adjusting. I had work and writing to catch up on and besides I slept away most of the first two days; jet lag and all.  

I didn’t see another Caucasian person for the whole week which was strangely unsettling. When I was checking out, I briefly talked to a lady from the US before Tak insisted I get my picture taken in front of his sign. Thinking back to the whole Russian passport thing, I was initially skeptical, but I shrugged it off. I smiled, strapped that stupid heavy bag to my back and started on my way. I could have taken the train but chose to walk. It was only 3 hours and I’d get to see a lot more of the city; no problem. It’s not like I’ve made this bad decision before. (See Hangover Hannover)

One Comment

  • Your Biggest Fan

    It is too bad you were not able to see a little bit of Russia during your layover. I know it is not much time and if you ever plan to go there, it would have been a waste. It is such a vast country, it will need weeks to explore. That is a straight up hells no to access your personal information. Good for you to resist temptation. Russian flight attendant, eh? Did you get a number 😉

    Mt. Fuji! WOW and so cool. I remember seeing Mt. Everest from the plane. It took my breath away and left me with goosebumps. These are beautiful moments to hold onto and cherish for not everyone will get to see the wonders you have, some not in a lifetime. I can imagine the squeal as you finally arrived in a place you have longed to see. Exhilarating right? Secret police, hahaha.
    It can be very difficult when you feel you stick out like a sore thumb. That can also be a great thing. People may stop and talk to you, ask what you are doing on your travels. A conversation started for sure but I bet the introvert in you did not want the extra attention. It is an interesting perspective. Maybe you can imagine how others who sense they are different feel. Funny though, you are not different. You may speak a different language, have different features, different cultural and religious beliefs, but you are human just like them. You laugh, cry, get embarrassed, fall in love, have two eyes, a nose and a mouth and strive for success just the same. Quite a lesson! It is about acceptance.
    Sounds like your first stop helped you in the transition. Friendly people always make the uncomfortable less so and I suppose when you are the only Caucasian, that fear of being misunderstood as both a foreigner with different customs and one who lacks the vocabulary skills to know a taxi from a cow, it is sometimes overwhelming. Thank goodness for Tak and the other visitors. Taking the time to adjust with a little help was probably a very smart first week.
    You, a three-hour walk and that hefty bag o’ burden had me laughing, Oh Ty, I can just imagine the sore feet, sore back and heat generated from that exertion, but hey at least you have amazing Japanese food to ease the pain. Tanoshī!