The First Day in the New Year
Jan 1. Midnight, the new year had begun and my flight to Tokyo that morning drew near. I’d like to say that I was really excited, but I was mostly scared. I’ve never lived in a country so foreign on my own. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know the language and I wasn’t familiar with the culture. There was just too much to be unsure about. Still, I knew that my move was inevitable, so I pushed my fear aside, and spent the rest of the morning planning for my grand adventure ahead.
Saying My Goodbyes
I was so immersed in my trip planning that I didn’t notice the time and how quickly it passed. It was 5 in the morning and it was time to leave for the airport. I ran up to my little sister’s room to wake her up for a brief goodbye. After that, I was on the road.
At the airport, my parents stayed with me for all of the airport logistics before heading to security. Saying goodbye to my parents is a regular ordeal for them. They’re familiar with me leaving for school and work every four months. But still, saying goodbye has always been somewhat hard for them. My mom teared up, which made me really sad. But I didn’t quite understand what she was feeling. I trust that it’s something I’ll empathize with in the future. They prayed with me for a safe trip, we hugged, and that was our goodbye for now.
Flying with Andy
I hate flying, especially long flights like these. Airplanes aren’t particularly comfortable, not to mention that you’re up in the air, which is unnatural for a human. But, flying with Andy made things much better. I met up with him at security and for the entire time afterwards, we had tons of fun flying to Tokyo together.
On the airplane, we mostly slept. But we did wake up to eat some decent food! Japan Airlines has surprisingly good airplane food, bento style. I got the vegetarian option since I was still on my vegetarian diet back then. We also played some Tetris against each other and watched two movies, The Other Woman and Minions.
Arriving in Japan
Jan 2. The next day, we arrived at the Narita airport. After going through immigration and collecting our begs, we stepped out of the doors filled with confidence and pure excitement. We made it. We were on our own in Japan! That was when our adventure in Japan began.
After figuring out how to get some cash, data sim cards, and tickets to Tokyo, we finally had a few minutes to collect ourselves at the airport. Everything started sinking in, we had traveled halfway around the world in half a day and now we’re outsiders in an unfamiliar place.
Before getting on our bus to Tokyo, we decided to get some food from a convenience store. We bought salmon onigiri, tuna onigiri, and a peach drink. Andy chose the peach drink because he thought it was cute, but it actually ended up being a 3% alcoholic drink. I didn’t know it was alcoholic, so I drank it like a normal juice drink. I passed out on the bus.
Finally in Tokyo
The bus dropped us off at a hotel not too far from my apartment, but it was still a struggle to find our way since it was dark, colder than expected, and we had huge luggage bags to pull. The railroad tracks in front of my building confused us for a while, but we finally found it. Neither of us knew any Japanese, so we actually spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to open the front door using the code. In the end, we made it to my tiny Tokyo apartment.
We were both starving so we put our items down, set up the bed, and we were out again on the search for food.
Our First Meal in Tokyo
Stepping out of our building and towards Shinagawa was a crazy new experience for us. It’s such a surreal feeling to be in a completely new country, surrounded by different kinds of people and even different kinds of buildings. Immediately, I could feel that Japan was going to be very different from what I was used to.
Using Yelp, we found a ramen place called Tetsu, about a 5 minute walk away. This was a small restaurant with bar seating only. When we got there, we were so confused as to how to get seated and order. Eventually, a nice waiter from inside the restaurant came out and helped us order using a vending machine outside. We chose our order and it printed out a ticket, and then the waiter seated us.
At this point, everything excited us. I remember I had a huge smile on my face through this entire experience. This restaurant was small, but so cute, and it seemed authentic since we were the only foreigners. Andy ordered tsukemen, which is dipping noodles, and I ordered regular ramen. Both were extremely delicious and filling!
After that, we just went back home and slept in our tiny bed meant for one person. Our sleep schedule in Canada was really messed up, so it was perfect for Japan.