Thursday, May 03, 2007

On Seeing Japan for the First Time

When we broke thru the clouds after 14 hours, my heart was beating so fast. Queena and I kept saying to each other "oh my god! We're actually going to Japan!"... i mean there it was right outside the window. it was real. a real place. not just on the news or in a magazine. or a sweepstakes. or an idea. or an itinerary. or a map. it was FOR REAL. Just thinking of how as little girls, we would sometimes drink sugar water and pretend it was juice or soda or something else we couldn't afford...and now we're on a plane to Japan, a place that most people in world never get to visit.

If i ever make an album it's gonna be called "From Sugar Water to Sake"

ok so anyway, we're standing around clueless in a foreign country, signs everywhere that we couldn't read. of course some were in English but still..."Follow the crowd" was my advice, so we did. Immigration was easy...there weren't many foreigners on the flight so our lines were short. We got our bags then made our way to the main area to look for a guy holding a sign with my name on it. As we were coming down the elevator, we spotted our driver. My heart lept when i saw my name on the i got closer, i noticed it said "Veronico"...we all busted out laughing. Close enough, i guess.

the airport looked more like a shopping mall. it was NOT CUTE. all one floor and long as hell

Our van driver (who was wearing a suit, hat and white gloves!) held our bags while we exchanged our money. In Japan, you can't just walk up to the window, hand over your money and get yen. First you gotta fill out this form. Name, amount of money, where you're staying, the phone number...i was like damn! then after that, you take your money and form to the counter and they do the do. PLUS you don't just hand people money hand-to-hand...there's always a shallow tray (this is at all stores in Japan) put the money in the tray, they take it, then put your change in the tray. I had a hard time remembering this teeny piece of etiquette throughout the trip. (among a couple others)

So after we got our money, we met up with Yumi. she informed us that the drive to Kyoto would take about 2 hours so we'd better go potty. (she ain't say like *that* but you get the jist). The bathrooms were fantasically clean and you didn't really have to touch anything. The handryers were dope. it was this open oven looking thing on the wall that you stick your hands into...once you do, it glows red and your feel this hot air on your hands till they "bake" dry. it was weird, creepy, fun and efficient all at once. But my favorite bathroom feature was this:

A Baby seat!!!! Yes can take the baby in the stall and strap them in while you use the bathroom!! Brilliant! If you only knew how many times Marius crawled out from under the stall and away from me while i was trying to pee and there i am, pants down, trying to run out there and bring him was crazy. they need these in the United States...stat!!!

ok. midnight. i'm turning into a pumpkin. but first, the 3 ladies have something to say about the airport bathrooms...


Piscean Princess said...

Ok, I am freaking out right now 'cause you have some YouTube footage & I have to sit here & look like I'm working so I can't watch the critical review of Japanese airport bathrooms.


Anyway, I am puzzled at the rationale behind the whole don't touch the money thing.

And that in-stall kid holster is pretty nifty. I've never had to make water while managing a toddler or an infant by myself. Perhaps I should get on your bandwagon so that by the time I have a wee one, I won't be so troubled.

I'm sure i'll have more to say after I've watched the video clips. (wow, "Veronico", that is so 2007 of you - I'm jealous!)

Damali said...

they are very short videos so you're not missing too much. i was trying hard not to use up alot of space on my memory card all at once cuz i really wanted to just video EVERYTHING.

girl we need to start a lobbying group to get those in bathrooms right next to the baby changer!

and i will NOT be changing my name to Veronico. LOL

Damali said...

oh and about not touching the money:

Japan's society seems to be built on extreme politeness so that's a part of that. just like bowing instead of shaking hands. they are next level with everything. after being there, i've sadly realized that however polite i thought i was, i'm really an ogre.

Piscean Princess said...

Cute videos. I'm tripping that your travel companions let you record their pre and post bathroom time! That makes me laugh - I kept waiting for one of them to tell you to turn off the camera.

Surely you are not an ogre....not that there's anything wrong with ogres.

Damali said...

they told me the other day that they didn't realize that i was recording. i'm slick like that.

Piscean Princess said...

ok, you might be an ogre!