Non-Fiction

My Trip to Japan | Day 1, Rock Bottom

Previously: I had just landed in Tokyo after a 14 hour plane ride. I was incredibly cranky. 

November 2nd

I went with the crowd to the baggage pickup and waited. An Air Canada Japan worker was walking around the carousel with a sign. I saw my name on it, but I told myself “I’ll wait till my luggage and then go approach her.” She looped around and because I’d been waiting so long, I talked to her.

Turns out, because of my transfer from Ottawa to Toronto, Air Canada forgot my bags.

I nearly erupted.

Just recounting this makes me so mad. I was so tired and extremely pissed off and I expressed this in a passive-aggressive, short-tempered manner – the only way a Canadian can.

So I go through an asinine process of filling out documents with an airport worker who had a loose grasp of English. Because I would be about 5 hours south of the airport, I wouldn’t get my luggage until November 5. As you can imagine, that’s absolutely ridiculous. I tried asking about compensation money but basically gave up because of the language barrier.

I crossed customs and approached the domestic flight desk, producing my flight papers for Osaka. The woman at the desk asked for my passport and confusion ensued.

Again, there was a language barrier, but it was a lot worse. I only half understood what was happening, but it sounded bad. Something about how I wasn’t assigned a seat – but I did have one. They handed me a weird tag – the type you’d see picking up dry-cleaning in 1999. I was told I can go to the gate, present said tag, and I would get a proper ticket with an assigned seat.

I was in absolute disbelief, but I didn’t have the energy to argue.

I walked about 20 meters to the security check for domestic flights. The staff there asked for my passport and ticket. I presented the tag and they looked at me like I’m crazy. I was so tired and frustrated I just pointed back at the domestic flight desk and shouted “They sent me here! They gave me this! Go ask them!”

Unsure, they did just that.

One of the employees went over and confirmed my sad story. I got through the security, walked through the airport to the bus stop and rode over to Terminal 1 for my flight to Osaka.

I tried calling Air Canada to get to the bottom of my luggage but gave up because I didn’t want to waste minutes being on hold. I got to my gate and the crew there were, thankfully, aware of my situation. I didn’t get the ticket immediately; rather I was told to wait and only just before boarding did I get a sleek looking ticket that granted me passage.

I got on the plane, middle seat in between two Japanese business men, and passed out. By that point I had been awake for at least 22 hours – I was grateful for the sleep.

I wake up just before we touched down in Osaka and filed off the plane. I followed the crowd to the exit: the airport bus terminal. Since I had no luggage, I skipped the carousel.

Using local wifi, I checked Google Maps and learnt the bus I needed to take to get to my hostel. The tourist desk helped me out too. I bought my ticket, got on and just zoned out.

I didn’t fall asleep though, fearing I would miss my stop. I kept an eye on the Google Maps GPS to ensure I was on the right route.

I arrived at the hostel around 10pm. When I was trying to check in, I got a phone call from the Tokyo Airport.

Much, much, MUCH to my dead-tired, frustrated annoyance, Japanese people make a sound similar to a western negative “mmm,” when listening to a person talk. E.g. their “uh-huh” sounds to me like they don’t understand.

So, I was on the phone with this airport lost-luggage woman and I was trying to spell out Jessica’s (my blessed English-teaching JET friend) last name to ensure delivery. There was a lot of back-and-forth where I was spelling out Jessica’s surname and mine (there was a lot of confusion) via the old method of “A as in apple, J as in Japan, etc,” and I kept repeating myself because I thought she didn’t understand me.

Eventually we figured each other out and confirm the luggage will be delivered November 5th.

I ended the call, checked-in, and got my key. I went up to my bed, I lied down and just sighed. I typed an angry email to my mom (see below) detailing my troubles. Thankfully, Japan and North America have the same electric plugs, so I didn’t need an adaptor to charge my phone and tablet.

Screenshot_20161102-085804
Basically everything detailed in this post

I hadn’t eaten since the Toronto-Tokyo flight’s instant noodles. I somehow transcended hunger during my luggage pilgrimage.

I needed to eat something, but I didn’t have the energy to try some Japanese food; I just wanted to stuff my face and not think.

I quickly showered, got back into my gross clothes, and ventured out into the Osaka nightlife for something to eat. I retraced my steps and entered a FamilyMart. I stopped in to buy a pair of panties since I was without luggage. I also grabbed a drink.

I promised myself I’d come back for food if I couldn’t find anything else. I say the same thing to a gyoza place, but I probably wouldn’t have gone there anyway because I was very intimidated by the idea of ordering at Japanese restaurants.

Wondering around and generally sticking out, I eventually came across a McDonalds. I nearly praise the Lord. I was just so relieved to see something familiar. It was late, so I only grabbed an order of chocolate fries.

20161102_225832
The first picture I took in Japan. I was surprised THIS movie was being imported. Found just before I found McDonalds.

I got my order and took a seat. Another group of foreigners came in and gave me the stink eye. Two guys, one girl, all white and English speaking. Americans? Australians? I did’t make conversation. I ate, took a couple photos and left.

20161102_230406
They were okay.

I moseyed back to the hostel, a bit more awake but still devoid of energy. It was near 11pm.

There were three bunkbed sets in my room and only three of the units were occupied. I climbed into my top bunk, checked my email (for response from mom) and social media (to update friends), and then climbed back down to brush my teeth. Without pajamas, I slept in my undies. Funny enough, the provided sheets and blankets were very warm and I had the best sleep of the whole trip.

My first day ended with a backpack and the stuff inside, paperwork for hotels, my stack of Japanese Yen (locked away safely along with my passport), a down fall jacket, and a deep unshakable sense of loneliness.

I remember thinking, when I got to my bed for the first time: I miss my family. I want to hug my mom and dad.

I was emotionally drained, but I had a small mantra that kept me going.

“It’s only up from here.”

Next time: I make my way south to meet a friend in Naurto

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