Land of the Rising Snow

Things photos couldn’t tell you about my trip to Japan – Part 1

If you’ve been following me on your choice of social media (can we call them ‘So-Me’ for short.. let’s make that a thing), you may have noticed a change in programming, as the content switched to Japanese. True story.

I arrived at Narita International Airport on January 8, with nothing but a backpack filled with clothes, an iPad, headphones, and a phone. Oh, and a couple of friends. Fun fact: discount airlines really like to nickel and dime you. We had a 7kg max weight for our carry-on luggage– and they check. If you plan on travelling discount airlines you should probably invest in a luggage jacket of some sort, and opt for a light-weight backpack instead of a suitcase, as backpacks have more give. A not-so-fun fact: there is no über or crowdsourced taxi-services. And they are expensive. Narita is far removed from everything, so if on a budget, you’ll need to get a transit pass and take the subway. This is another reason just to bring a backpack. So either take transit or if you’re fortunate enough as we were, have someone come pick you up. And then have them take you out for dinner. We were treated to some food at what I’m guessing was an Izakaya (居酒屋) which is probably best described as a Japanese pub. Dinner was a series of small dishes comprised of tempura fried delicacies (maybe not delicacies), barbecued and deep fried chicken, seaweed salad, and other deep fried and battered meats. A heart attacks wet dream, and also very delicious.

We returned to our AirBnB shortly afterwards, but it wasn’t without making a couple of observations. First, was how cold it was. While there was no snow, the weather was windy and bone chilling. Perhaps it was a mix of the wind and the cold radiating from the concrete jungle of Tokyo, but I was freezing, despite it being above zero. The second observation was how foreign I was there. It wasn’t because of the colour of my skin, but more that I kept walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk, or any where else for that matter. It’s not just driving that’s done on the left side. This began my brain reprogramming to walk on the left side. It’s harder than it sounds.

The AirBnB itself was decent and a good size. I’d hate to try and estimate the cost. It was a single bedroom flat, with the living room turned into a second bedroom/living space. Something I had forgotten about the Japanese, is that they separate bath and toilet. The washroom was felt like a tiny closet and would cause a claustrophobic’s panic attack. What was missing from the bathroom was the fabled heated toilet seat / bidet. That would have to wait for a couple of days. What the bathroom did have, was kind of genius. Instead of having an individual sink and toilet, the toilet reservoir had a faucet and sink on top. Instead of wasting water, you could wash your hands with the same water that filled the well. Water conservation for the win.

All this was just the first 7 hours after my arrival. Keep watching this space for next time it will be Us vs. Transit!

Second book in the series.

The early morning sun is shining on the deck outside my mother’s rear patio doors.  It’s Sunday morning and all three of us are quiet, TheWife™, TheMom™, and myself.  TW gazes on taps away on her phone, likely sending messages back and forth to her sister using WeChat, and TM is probably falling through the click-bait rabbit holes.  I am sitting in front of my laptop, clacking at its keyboard and sipping away at my weekend morning coffee treat.  It’s the same routine that we have gone through every weekend since I arrived back in June.  The only difference is that in 17 hours, TW and I will be on my flight to Newold City (my new pseudonym for where I’m living–check the Cast and Errata page for a list of other pseudonyms I am using) via Guangzhou.

Of course, by the time you read this, I will have already been in the air for presumably six hours or more, flying for a total of fifteen hours and twenty minutes for the first leg.

So it’s finally here.  Any sense of anxiety I had is pretty much gone, which to me is indicative that I’m ready.  It’s a long list that I really don’t want to create new names for, so instead I will give a blanket, yet earnest thank you to everyone who took time out of their daily lives over the past seven weeks (SEVEN WEEKS!?!) to spend time with TheWife™ and I.

Preparing for Book Two!

I know, given our penchant for vagabonding, that being our nearest and dearest requires extra effort and while maybe not heartbreak, a certain sense of melancholy every time we show up and then leave again.  This is not lost on us, and for these efforts, I am truly grateful.
I was out with Lyle (see Cast) yesterday, discussing this very topic.  And while it sucks being away from each other, it is also demonstrative of the strength of the bonds that have developed between us.  During college, after we completed the taping of our last class project, I was feeling a little down knowing that this may be the last time I would see these people as we were now free to go out into the world.  I expressed these thoughts to a classmate of mine.  He had a different perspective which has carried with me ever since.  He said, “Andy, those who really truly matter will always continue to be in contact with you.”  He was right, of course.  And to me, these people who have been with me over these past 15-20 years are my family.  Whether biological or not, these bonds are far more important to me than any blood that runs through our veins.

Thank you, with all the love and appreciation that you rightfully deserve.

With that, I think it’s time to cap off this chapter.  For that matter, I think I’ll leave this as a cliffhanger for my first book.  Book Two: Version 2.0 begins…