Hijiyama Jinja, Hiroshima

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

We landed in Osaka’s Itami Airport on the evening of December 31st, collected our ridiculously voluminous luggage, and prepared to make the final leg of our epic journey—this time from Osaka to Hiroshima by shinkansen (bullet train).

If all went according to plan, we’d be joining the Princess’ parents for their annual midnight shrine visit to celebrate Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year.

But things rarely go according to plan, do they?

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.

Fortress America

Stepping off the plane, we were ushered to the gates of Fortress America. Amazingly, as we gathered into two immense, concentration-camp-esque ques down a seemingly endless airport hallway, an airport staff woman with a Chinese accent so thick you could fry dumplings in it, continuously shouted into the crowd, “Don’t worry! Be happy! You’re in America now!”
Ten Thousand Shrines