Flying into Narita aiport (Tokyo, Japan)
It’s a small world until you sit on a plane for 13 hours sitting as an uncomfortably captive time traveler. I’m too cheap to swipe my card for in-flight entertainment, even for a travel so long. I had stayed up the entire night before my departure day and kept my goal intact – remaining sleep to reduce jet lag and peek up at the interactive flight map every now and then just to see how much longer until we arrived. But even with a few good naps, you just can’t cheat time.
Just realize that these are the opposite of complaints though. 18 days were spent taking in a new country and language, spending more life than you’d think on public transportation (even the old folks play portable handheld games to pass the extra time), lots of pantomiming to communicate, discovering Chu-his in all of their wonderful varieties, LOTS of noodles + sushi, and last but not least – my first squatter toilet experience.
Which, after checking out the above link, I realize that I totally used it backwards the 3 times I used it.
But I mean whatever, right? I MADE IT WORK.
Three perfect days in Tokyo. Akihabara during the day + night.
But before you shudder at the thought of squatting into a porcelain hole in the floor, I mean how nasty are usual restrooms right? I usually squat and hover anyway in public restrooms, but obviously not as low of course (TMI?) They are arguable considered more sanitary because you are not sharing bare-booty germs with another person. Plus you get a workout out of the deal.
Please realize I’m not an advocate, I’m just saying.
Actually bidets are more prevalent there though. Friends, this is a toilet that is plugged into the wall. And they’ve got mad features such as controlling the pressure of the *ahem* water stream (it’s optional to use, but I was terrified every time), electronic flushing or other more “pleasant” sounds to mask “other” sounds, a seat warmer, and an air freshener. Sometimes they have a sink included on top (where the tank is) that dispenses water when flushed so you can wash your hands immediately. It’s not gross. In fact it’s eco-friendly and smart, especially seeing as though toilet water is actually potable (or drinkable). My architecture background taught me that.
But, thank the heavens it is clean water! Because I used a bidet toilet in a public restroom around day 12-13 of my visit, and I had convinced myself that I would try once more to use the feature. It was at nice coffee shop connected to an even nicer office building. So after business was done, I adjusted the stream to a med-low setting and hit the Go button. But something in me didn’t want to do it anymore, so I quickly shot up and looked down at this apparatus that was slowly peeking out from the back of the bowl. Pants down and no longer committed to this decision, I panicked and before I could figure out what picture icon could be the Cancel button, water shoots up as I furiously try to dart backwards in the stall. Yeah, of course there’s nowhere to go though right? Bidet water on the floor, some on my shoes, and dribblings on my jeans. This was straight I Love Lucy style. But I washed my hands, grabbed my purse and my dignity and told not one soul when I went back into the coffee shop.
This wasn’t the highlight of my trip, but is it fair to admit that it kinda blew my mind? And like who else is going to give you the dirty details like me.
Exactly. So you can thank me later when YOU visit Japan.
Overlooking the neighborhood from the apartment I stayed at in Sasebo.
Westerners Bar (all senior lady bartenders in cowgirl gear!)
Sasebo, Japan (Naval Base)
This is where I end up spending most of my time. Sasebo is a definitely a slower pace than the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and other major cities in Japan. It’s also home to a U.S. Naval base that I was able to visit. It was just so strange to step over base lines and feeling like being in little America. Obviously everyone on base speaks English, they’ve got their own movie theater and a few popular American chain restaurants (the last time I’ve eaten Taco Bell was in Japan!), and their major box-type store even carried black hair care products. That last fact alone was awesome, because it’s not like I was going to find them anywhere else!
I met some really great people. Some of which I could successfully talk to, and others I could not. But I did learn a few basic Japanese words to use along with my arsenal of over-exaggerated, yet universal, facial expressions. I had morning/midday/evening greetings, please, thank you, and water DOWN. That’s about as far as I got. But just as it’s fairly common to learn Spanish as a second language here in school, it’s the same there for English so many people are pretty darn helpful. Lots of menus have at least some English translation, and many restaurants I came across had plastic food displays of the meals offered on the menu in the windows along with prices.
So, I’ll just stop there. It’s just getting so long, and I could definitely ramble on more about it all. If there’s anything specifically you want to know though, even if it’s more about bathroom stuff, don’t hesitate to ask! I seriously had an AMAZING time, and I actually wanted to extend my stay. I would recommend to anyone to visit there and create your own adventures, because I definitely plan to go back someday. My wanderlust is just getting started.