Almost a year after moving to Japan, I was finally able to go home for a visit. I had some things to take back, some things to bring back, and some things to buy while I was gone. I also wanted to spend time with my mom and see as many of my friends as I could. My high school reunion and a massive anime convention I like to go to were on consecutive weekends, so I chose a time that would allow me to attend both.
My flight there started early in the morning. My school’s 受付 had booked me a taxi (with great difficulty) that would pick me up. I had leftover cold symptoms, primarily a cough that had begun some two weeks prior. The taxi arrived, we loaded my bags into it, and off we went. When I came to Japan, I took the airport limousine bus from Narita to Haneda, and it cost 3100円. A coworker had told me about a different bus — the Keisei Bus — that would go between Tokyo Station and Narita for only 1000円. My driver was new by his own admission, so he got me to the station okay, but missed the bus stop and had to drive around the block a few times before he could drop me off. Because of that, my fare had climbed much higher, and I pointed that out. He apoligized and gave me back 2500円, saying he really wasn’t allowed to do it. (That still dropped my fare to only 5000円.) I quickly hit a nearby Family Mart for a drink and a restroom break, then boarded the bus.
As always, I prefer Narita Airport to US airports. The luggage carts are free, the security is much nicer than TSA, and the convenience stores’ markup is far less atrocious. I grabbed a quick hot dog and Coke from the last store before my gate (500円) and waited to board. I ended up with an aisle seat in the middle section near the restroom (which is my preferred location), seated beside an older Japanese woman and her son (who was mentally impaired and very pleasant the whole time).
Since both of my carry-ons were fairly large, I devised a trick to keep a few things in my seat: I put a few necessary items into the little backpack I bought years ago in Osaka and stuffed it into my large duffel bag, allowing me to take it out before sitting down. (I know this isn’t a new idea for frequent travelers, but it was new to me.)
The flight was pleasant; I killed the eleven hours by watching a couple movies (Divergent and Insurgent, both of which were entertaining) and taking a restful, four-hour nap. As always, we didn’t want for food or drink, with dinner, soft drinks, wine, bread, and snacks. Our second meal was a branded one, the same as any flight from Japan to the US: Air MOS Burger. This one was different from the last couple times, though; it had diced onions and a packet of meat sauce as well. Really messy, but delicious as ever.
We landed in Chicago in the afternoon. After two movies and a nap, the flight went by pretty quickly. My luggage popped up in record time, and even customs and TSA were remarkably hassle-free. I will say that it was weird to hear announcements in English, and my first instinct when asking for information was to use Japanese. Even though we were well-fed on the plane, I still needed something to eat. Polish sausage on a bun with mustard and jalapeños and a Coke: $8.00. (As a side note, I still had the forty cents I arrived with, but it was easier to use plastic and not change money.) After a modest layover, I caught my flight to Pittsburgh. I dozed, landed, met my mom, and got my luggage without incident. A quick drive later and I was home.