And now for the last installment in my 2014 trip to Tokyo! … Finally my one-month trip to Japan had come to an end, and it was time for me to return to the US. My fiance and I had spent the day before at the Imperial Palace 皇居 and Meiji Shrine 明治神宮, but now it was time to make the 3-hour drive to Narita Airport 成田空港.
The day had come for me to return to the US. It was a sunny Thursday, but I was feeling pretty sad. My fiance and I woke up that morning and loaded the car for the trip to Narita Airport 成田空港. We headed first to my fiance’s parents’ so I could say my goodbyes. Japanese parents aren’t big huggers, so there was no hugging or tearful goodbyes, but I thanked them profusely and bowed a lot. They invited me to come back anytime, and I hope I will be able to visit them again soon! They were so kind and we got along so well that I hope I will be able to see them more often in the future.
I wasn’t leaving until the afternoon so we had time, but we weren’t sure how busy Narita would be so we planned to be there about 3-4 hours before my plane would take off. Also, the shopping at Narita is amazing and extensive, and I wanted time to look around. The last time I took off from Narita I didn’t have enough time to see all the stores, so I wanted to finish up my last bit of gift and personal shopping.
Before we got on the freeway to Narita, we picked up brunch at Mos Burger (that’s short for Most Delicious Burger). As usual, we had the yasai burger and melon soda combo with fries! We also stopped at a conbini or convenience store to pick up some snacks for the airplane ride back.
Mos Burger yasai burger & melon soda – photo by kei
It took us only a little over 2 hours to arrive at Narita, which is in Chiba Prefecture 千葉県 (not Tokyo proper), because traffic was much lighter than the Friday night that I arrived.
On the way to Narita Airport – photo by kei
When we arrived at Narita, we did some shopping in the extensive stores that lie outside of security. First we checked my suitcase, which was overweight by at least 2 kg, but they didn’t charge me for it! Usually in the US they will charge you for overweight suitcases (over 50 lbs), but in Hawai’i and Japan I have never been charged for being a little over the limit. They always tell me to make sure not to be overweight the next time… I don’t learn, do I?
Odaiba viewed on the way to Narita – photo by kei
On the way to Narita by car – photo by kei
After we finished shopping we were hungry again, and so we went to the food court and chose a restaurant that had omurice gratin (omelette rice with a creamy sauce) and, of course, melon soda.
Omurice gratin at Narita Airport – photo by kei
Melon soda at Narita Airport – photo by kei
After shopping and dining together, we finally decided it was time for Aki to head back to Tokyo, before rush-hour traffic got too bad. He walked me to the security line and we said our goodbyes. It was very difficult to do, but I knew I had to return to the states to finish up my thesis and work towards the time when he would join me in the US. The security check was very quick, and they only asked me if I had any scissors (is that a common question?), but I didn’t have to do the full body scan thing they do in the US, just a simple metal detector.
I spent the rest of the time in the international terminal, looking at some of the stores within the secure part of the terminal. I bought a Japanese book and magazine for the flight, and worked on my thesis a little bit before the shishimai 獅子舞 or Japanese lion dance came snaking by. The lion dance consists of two performers under a mask and cape who perform a traditional dance to music. I watched the performance, and watched them take photos with tourists. The Narita Airport often has unique cultural events both when you land and take off, which can differ by the season. You can find upcoming cultural events on the airport’s website. This is another reason why you should arrive early before your flight takes off!
Departing Tokyo – photo by kei
I boarded the plane, watched the sunset from the plane, and then watched Japanese movies until I briefly fell asleep on the 13-hour flight to Seattle. When I arrived in Seattle I was exhausted from the jet lag, but I had to shuttle my carry-ons to customs.
Even though I went through the American kiosks and answered that no, I had not been on a farm or received any goods from farms during my trip, I was not given a pass and I had to wait in line for a tete-a-tete with the customs agent. Half-delirious and cranky, I tried to list the items in my suitcase and explain what I was doing for a month in Japan. Then, I had to pick up my large suitcase and wait in the huge line to go back through security again. (Yes, even though I already went through security in Japan and had not left the airport).
Despite the fact that they tried to hurry me along so that I could make my flight, and despite that I had a 3-hour layover, after running through the terminal, riding the terminal train, and running up two flights of stairs, I just missed my connecting flight. I got the next flight booked, which ended up getting delayed because flights across the country were being delayed due to storms. So I ate, slept, slept some more, and then eventually flew home. My bag had arrived before me, so it was waiting for me, which was great news after all the Seattle trouble.
What is the lesson here? Don’t fly into Seattle from an international destination (try Los Angeles instead), and if you must, make sure to allow a 5 hour layover just in case…
So, that was my month in Tokyo, Japan. I met the in-laws, took wedding photographs and a honeymoon, visited my Japanese hometown, and met old friends. I also got to spend a month with my fiance in his hometown! Thank you for reading any or all of my diaries! If you missed anything, you can catch up on my Diary Index.
Is there any particular trip that stands out in your memory, even years later? What is your favorite place to visit, even more than once? Also, have you had any trouble with Seattle Airport? I’d love to hear any travel joy or horror stories!
Thank you again for reading my diaries! I appreciate all your comments ^^