Welcome to Japan! – (Surviving the flight)
Now, I’m sure that you’ve imagined every possible scenario for what it’ll be like to step foot off airplane, it’s actually time to board your flight. Make sure you didn’t forget your passport (and certificate of eligibility if you’re not on a tourist visa- available at your local Japanese embassy which is likely a 2-5 hour drive away).
Oh, and plane ticket, that’s pretty important. Be ready to not sleep for however long your flight is and arrive in Japan looking like you just lost a roshambo challenge to a weed-whacker.
No matter how nicely you dress to arrive, an overnight plane trip is going to make you look like you’ve lost a fight to a very persistent mongoose. Don’t even try to sleep if you’re not in business class. What, you think airlines try to make you comfortable? Pretty sure I wouldn’t spend my flights strapped into a carseat if that was the case.
But if you’re ever feeling angry at being the last to get off the plane, last in line, crappy economy seat- just remember that those in business class are the most likely to die in the event of a crash.
Take a moment to realize that you could be paying more to end your life in a fiery flame and then settle in, feeling more confident that yes, aisle 52, seat C is exactly the safest seat on the airline *(not actually proven to my knowledge.)
Most airlines will provide you with two meals and a snack. Alcohol is also usually complimentary, but I can’t speak for every airline. I like popping a xanax and chasing it with two beer so I can get that golden four hours of sleep before I realize I’ll have to watch Gone With the Wind two or more times to fill out the rest of the flight time. I’m not complaining. Rhett Butler is hot. Still, in-flight movies are also hit-or-miss, and I have the attention span of a peacock during mating season. Unless there’s a hot guy in front of me, I’ll be spacing out contemplating if Lindsay Lohan has actually been replaced by her evil twin. You know, the one that starred with her in the Parent Trap.
Assuming you survive the flight, congratulations! You have made it halfway through the battle. Give yourself a little pat on the back while you wait on the plane to empty out because then it’ll be time to hit up immigration. This varies on the time of day and if there were other incoming flights landing with you, but it usually doesn’t take too long. As someone who has a re-entry permit, I get to go in a special line that takes approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds to process. Sweet. If you’re completely new to Japan and feeling nervous, sometimes a foreigner in line might seem friendly and have some good advice. You’re bound to fuck-up, but give them their moment. They’ll be happy to share information with you like they have their ph.d in Japanese culture.
I came to Japan wide-eyed and bushy-tailed knowing nothing. You know what I mean- It was like a squirrel after hibernation. You want to stuff all those Japanese nuts into your mouth. Learn from my tale. I’d ignored all language in line resembling the English sounds, eager to make it through customs to get to my friend who was so generously waiting on me (thanks, Lynn!) But I’d never actually went through customs before. How did it work? The most I’d ever seen was on tv shows where someone fucked up and got cavity searched. My anus was not prepared.
I had fucking ten-truple checked my list to make sure I had no contraband on me. Yet, I still got stopped. Probably because I had like 5 bags and a stuffed animal with me (and the age on my passport said 23- ps. the alpaca got his own seat on the plane). So as this little Japanese woman was opening my bag, I started submitting myself to strip search.
By that, I mean more of submitting her to a strip tease. First came the belt, then the jacket. I was finally about to take off my shirt but then- “NO NO NO NO”
I’ve never had someone to tell me to put my clothes back on so fast before- well there was that one time- except I couldn’t understand Japanese, so I kept up trying to take off my shirt until she grabbed me and stopped me from burning her virgin eyes. I could only utter out a half-formed “soo-mee-ma-sen” before she zipped up my bags and sent me on my way. I don’t think she checked anything, so in retrospect, I could have totally gotten away smuggling in that extra pack of peanuts the flight attendant slipped me. It’s fortunate for all of Japan that I’m a good person.
Though to this day, I’m not sure if my pride was wounded or if she just saved me from becoming the next porn star on Midnight Train.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES?
IF ANYONE IS OUT THERE THAT LIVES IN JAPAN, HAVE YOU HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES? DIFFERENT ONES? FEEL FREE TO SHARE! IF YOU DON’T LIVE IN JAPAN, WAS THIS INFORMATION USEFUL? LET ME KNOW (BUT BE NICE. I’M A SENSITIVE SOUL)!
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