Exiting the train, we stepped out into the airport where Koji-san and I loaded our luggage onto a handcart. He had come specifically so he and Naoko-san together could watch our departure until the very plane itself vanished into the skies.
Within the airport, we sat on a bench where strange kites hung from the vaulted ceiling.
Naoko-san asked me if I liked Japan.
“Watashi ni wa nippon o totemo daisuki desu yo! For me at least, I love Japan very much!” I replied. “Soshite, Hisachan no gokazoku mo suki desu. And I also like Hisachan’s family.”
Truly, I had experienced the most wonderful time, and Japan is a marvelous place. If you have not visited, Dear Reader, I urge you to make a point of visiting soon. You will not regret it.
“Yokatta, ne! That’s great!” replied Naoko-san, and smiled warmly.
Hisachan and I stood in line for an exceedingly long time, awaiting an agent. Apparently the computer was taking a shit (utilizing only the most advanced pooping techniques, I’m sure), and couldn’t be bothered to be of assistance to anyone. We were apologized to repeatedly, and at long last ushered to the counter after they managed to get the computer cleaned up and ready to go.
Lady Agent: “Is the computer taking a shit again?”
Guy Agent: “Yup. It’s taking a shit.”
The weight limit on our checked bag was twenty-three kilograms—yet fortunately I am an expert packer, as evinced below.
|Right on the money!|
The bag checker refused to allow me to carry on my guitar or my ninja umbrella. Even with a hardshell case for my instrument, this was deeply alarming—as it should be to anyone else who has ever flown with checked anything in the United States. Yet after some deliberation, the attendant personally reassured me that my items would be safe.
I distinctly recall him asking me in English, “Do you mind cooperating?” (Such a contrast with Stateside security!)
With little other choice, I reluctantly agreed, at which point the attendant carefully placed my items aside with an air as if he himself would remain personally accountable for their safety.
Hisachan, Naoko-san, Koji-san, and myself, with an hour or so to spare, went to the food area and settled on a traditional noodle shop. I had a bowl of soba noodles with kinoko, or mushrooms, as well as a strange, ridiculously delicious tofu pocket with veggies inside.
|This thing was so good!|
At the gate, Koji-san and Naoko-san stood by to bid us farewell. “Arigatou gozaimashita! Thank you so much for all you have done.” I said with a bow, “Osewa ni narimashita! I am indebted to you!”
“Kochira koso,” replied Koji-san, “As we are to you.”
As in English, there are many ways to say goodbye in Japanese, and “sayonara,” the best known of Japanese farewells in the West, is in practice only reserved for formal occasions, or those times when a long journey or a lengthy space of time must pass before you can see one another again.
Hisachan and I stepped into the security area. Koji-san and Naoko-san both called out “Sayonara,” which Hisachan and I echoed back to them. During all my stay in Japan, this was the only time when I heard or used this word.
We passed through security—an old fashioned metal detector—with ease and comfort. Upon taking off my shoes, an apologizing attendant stepped forward to hand me a pair of slippers (of course!) which I gratefully accepted.
“A! Wasureta! Oh! I forgot!” I uttered to the attendant, “Arigatou gozaimasu! Thank you very much!” All the security in Kansai Airport was hassle-free and very civilized.
Hisachan had a jar of peach jam from our car trip to Hiroshima, as well as a jar of strawberry jam from Teshima which were both too large for international regulations. The guard not only apologized profusely, and double checked with his superior if we could take them with us, but upon being told that the strawberry jam was okay (due to its smaller size), he kindly took the jar of peach jam, and brought it personally to Naoko-san and Koji-san who still watched us from the gate.
With this done, we thanked the guard and moved along, waving all the while to Koji-san and Naoko-san until they disappeared from view.
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