I stayed up pretty late the night before leaving for Japan. I was pretty excited about it for a few reasons. I finally would get to leave Korea; as much as I love the place I am more than ready for a change. I was thinking it would be cool to compare the differences in their culture. I have always been quite interested in Japanese culture, from the neat and orderly fashion of their daily lives to the geishas to the sushi to the samurais and so much much more. I was finally in my final stages of preparation to go and experience it first hand. My flight was scheduled to leave around . So I set my alarm for about . This gave me time to have breakfast, shower and walk to the local bus stop which had a direct shuttle to the Incheon-airport for 12,000Won. It took about an hour to arrive and it left at 5am.
I arrived at the airport shortly after 6 and began the tedious check-in process. This was a perfect of example of why you should arrive at the airport about 2 hours early for your flight. I was a bit worried because I saw one of the longest airport check-in lines I had ever seen in my life. Apparently, there were a few people going to Japan from Korea as well. I look at one counter and there was no one in line so I asked the attendant why no one was in that line and he said it was for those flying to Osaka. Great! I marched right to the front of the line with a big smile on my face since I was flying into Osaka and not Tokyo. I handed the clerk my itinerary and passport. She asked me for my Alien Registration Card. Shit!!!! I didn’t bring it. I thought it was just one more thing I could lose. I had to go wait in line at the immigration office for about an hour. While waiting and exchanged my money (Ouch!!! The won is not so hot right now and the yen is). My number was finally called and the guy at the counter gave me grief and then said it was fine and told me to go back to check-in. Hell no!! “I need some sort of stamp or signature or a note. Anything that says I was here and it’s okay. I’m not going through this again.” He wrote out a little note on scratch paper and stamped and signed it. I was handed my boarding pass promptly and then moved on to the security check point. With everyone there wearing the face masks to help protect against all the foreigners with their deadly viruses I felt at ease to know such precautionary measures were being taken to prevent this incredibly widespread disease (please insert sarcastic tone). I did the usual procedure, empty everything, slide off my sandals, and push the bags through. As I was waiting for my bags to come out the other side, there was a long pause for intense observation. I wondered to myself quietly what could be taking so long. My came through finally but the guy asked me if he could check my bag. “Of course,” I said to him. He started looking through things and was digging real deep. He asked if I had any weapons in there. “No sir,” I responded. He then put the bag back through the machine. Again, they inspected the machine for awhile and were pointing to an object. Again, the bag came out and he dug real real deep this time and he pulled out some hiking spikes the art teacher had lent me for hiking Mt.Fuji because we thought there may be snow still at that altitude. I had totally forgotten about those. I ended up having to check my bag. After all this I made it to the terminal just in time to sit down at my exit row window seat. I put back a few complimentary Asahi’s on the plane and turned Japanese in no time.
Some guy Alex who was a friend of a couchsurfer went out of his way to meet me at the airport. I was very grateful for his generosity to go out of his way to meet me at the airport. It made getting to town really easy, plus he told all I needed to know about working the train system. We hung out had lunch and then parted ways. I toured the city of Osaka a bit on my own and met a Japanese friend for dinner. She helped me get onto the night bus for Hiroshima where I unfortunately left my Korean phrasebook (I planned to study some while I was there so I didn’t lose what I’ve learned) and my Japanese travel guide which I borrowed from a friend here in Suwon. I had ten minutes between the time we arrived and the time of the bus departing, talk about in the knick of time…
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