Day 36: The Voyage Home

I was debating what to call this post.  The Odyssey, The End of All Things... I think this one is the least dramatic.  Bonus points if you get all the references.

I went to Book Off as planned, and ended up buying two mangas: a Love Plus book, and Hidan no Aria-chan.  They were both pretty cheap, and I made sure to only buy ones that had furigana so that I would be able to at least read if not understand everything.

That shopping trip took longer than planned, so I made it back to the house a little after 11:00, and we grabbed my bags and set off for the station.  We did have someone take our picture together, which is the only picture we got the whole week, and the train pulled in a few seconds later at 11:13.  I said a very hurried goodbye and jumped on.

When I made it to the main Yokkaichi station, I couldn't find the ticket machine for the next leg of my trip, so I had to ask the person at the counter.  He helped me and gave me a ticket for the 11:59 Limited Express to Namba, which cost 150 yen more than I had expected, but that was still within my planned budget deviation.  I went up to the platform and waited for about 20 minutes before accidentally boarding the 11:55 Express train instead.  They shouldn't name their trains so similarly and have the times so close together.

How it actually happened is that I asked one of the station workers if the train that was just pulling in matched my ticket, but he was hurrying on board and just took a quick glance at my ticket before motioning me inside and examining it more fully.  As soon as the doors closed and the train started moving, he said it was the wrong train.  However, he was kind enough to help me figure out what to do, and he talked to the conductor and informed him about my situation.  He got off at the next stop, though, and I got passed along through a few different workers on the train until we got to the stop where they told me to get off.  During the ride, I saw the train I was supposed to be on pass by us, which was pretty discouraging.  However, at least that meant that I was heading in the right direction, which up until that point I didn't even know.

When I got off the train, the conductor spoke to one of the workers at that station, who passed me along to someone else, who finally got my ticket changed to the Urban Liner instead of the Limited Express.  I had some trouble understanding what everyone was saying, because they were generally speaking really quickly.  Plus I don't know train station lingo.  I understood that I would be getting on another train that would get me to Namba about 20 minutes later than I'd planned (meaning I'd miss my desired connection to the airport), and that I wasn't actually in the system but would just have to take whatever seat was free.  Usually the express-type trains have assigned seating.

I then waited at that station for about 20 more minutes until the Urban Liner train came by, and got on near the front.  Fortunately, there was a big enough space to fit myself and my luggage all together.  So we sped along, making no more stops until we got to Namba.  I guess the Urban Liner is even faster than the Limited Express, or at least stops less.

When I got out, I looked around the station and asked a couple of different workers for directions to the airport line.  The first guy wasn't very helpful, but I think I may have asked the question wrong.  The second person was much more direct.  The airport train ticket cost about 800 yen less than I expected, which more than made up for the earlier ticket costing more.  In all, I have roughly $30-35 in yen right now.  And in the end, I finished my trip $3.22 under budget (not counting the yen I had left over, because I haven't converted that back and in the US it's useless, so it's basically just an expensive souvenir at this point).  Back to the story.

I got to the platform with my ticket, and asked one last person to make sure it was the right place, then waited until the next train came and left.  Since Namba is the end of the line, it was waiting at the station for quite a while before departure, which made me a bit nervous, since I'd already missed the one I'd planned to take.  Finally, after stopping at every station along the way (the train I'd wanted to take would have been the faster express), I arrived at the airport with about 85 minutes until my plane left.  Usually you're supposed to arrive 2 hours early, and 3 or more hours early for an international flight... but Japan's airports are faster.  I made my way through, checked my bags, and got on the plane with no hassle, no difficulties.  It was really smooth.  I didn't have much extra time at all, and if I'd missed that last train I probably wouldn't have made it, but still, it went quickly enough that I wasn't really worried about missing my plane anymore.

The plane rides were mostly uneventful.  I noticed that all the food on the way home had Japanese labels instead of English ones, even though the crew was mostly American.  The flight was also a lot more crowded than when I went to Japan, and a much higher percentage of Americans than Japanese, whereas it was the other way around on my way there.  Another interesting thing is that during my flight across the Pacific, night passed — in about 4 hours — and the sun rose again, and it was still Saturday.  Long distance flying is so weird.

During the plane ride, I tried reading the manga I bought.  The Hidan no Aria book is incredibly difficult to follow.  It's in 4koma format (4-panel comic strip, basically), but I can hardly understand half of it, even with the furigana.  I gave up after just a page or two.  Then I switched to Love Plus, which was much, much easier.  I read the entire first chapter (about 30 pages) and understood all but 3 or 4 words.  Frankly, I'm amazed.  If only the game were as easy to understand.

I stopped in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Baltimore before finally meeting up with my family and driving home, arriving shortly after midnight on Saturday/Sunday night, concluding the longest day of my life (37 hours, 26 of which were spent traveling).

My sleep schedule is still a little messed up, obviously, but I'm doing alright.  My next semester of summer classes started today, and I made it to my 9:30 am class just fine, but my eyes are hurting from lack of sleep, or sleep at odd times.  Still, it's surprisingly easy to readjust, just like it was when I arrived in Japan.  I guess I'm naturally suited to resist jet lag.  I'm sure it also helps that I was staying up super late the last few nights before I came home.

Well, that concludes this post.  I'll post a few final pictures soon, but I don't have them on hand at the moment; they're still on the camera.  I'm not sure how much use I'll make of this blog in the future, but I'll probably keep it up a little for the more interesting events in my life.  I doubt it will be as detailed or as frequent as it has been up until now, though.

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