Peter Chordas with luggage in Narita Airport

Why Are You Here?

In Tokyo’s Narita Airport, we pulled our carry-on luggage down a long corridor, onto an even longer flat conveyor belt, and at length into a large room which served as the customs checkpoint.

To those of you who have traversed only the airport security of the States, the scene which I encountered could not have been more contrary. The Princess and I were, of course, separated into “Citizens” and “Non-citizens” lines, however both processions moved quickly, civilly, and without the need of armed guards.

Shocking, I know.

Airplane bathroom window over the Pacific

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Curry

We scurried down the corridor toward the monolithic masterpiece of modern engineering which would usher us more than nine kilometers into the sky on our way to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

With a staggering width of nine seats trisected into three groups of three by two aisles running the length between, the 787 was nothing so much as an enormous flying hotel.


We boarded our plane, reluctant to leave Japan, and at length took our seats. As it turned out, we were magically selected to operate the emergency exit in the event that our chances for survival (and also possibly the plane itself) should take an unexpected nosedive.

Cultural limbo / Winning points / Magical thing

Headachey, and very tired. Excitement for our arrival mingles with delirious travel stupor.

Now that we’ve been on this plane for six hours or so, it has dawned on me that international flights are essentially a species of cultural limbo. Multiple languages, multiple cultures, multiple peoples all homogenized into the experience of jet travel. Neither here nor there. Weird.

Ten Thousand Shrines