I love flying. The first time I flew on a plane by myself I was 12 years old and going to Chicago for a few weeks to visit my family. I had a chaperone to take me onto the plane and to take me to my family on the other side but for 8 glorious hours, it was just me… and the projected screen with Indian films. Since that holiday I have mostly flown alone and I love how I can just disconnect from everything and zone out for a flight. I know they have wifi now but I refuse to pay for it. I love watching endless movies and getting food all separated by compartments in trays. I drink endless amounts of apple juice and I sometimes make friends with the people around me. Japan Airlines didn’t let me down with any of this. They have super big seats and lots of legroom, they have delicious food and they had a lot of movies to choose from and a big screen to watch them all on the back of the seat in front of you.
Everyone was asleep about 5 or 6 hours into the flight and the lights were off. I’d managed to keep my window open and was watching the sunrise. I don’t think I’ve ever really watched a sunrise properly before, from when it’s night and it slowly creeps up on you till everything is brilliant and glowing. It’s truly magical. What made it more so was that I could clearly see a crescent moon on the horizon that looked like it was set aflame. It wasn’t the sun, we were flying directly at the sun so the pilot could see that but not me. The moon, however, was breathtaking. I watched it sink lower in the sky until the attendant pulled down my shade. When we reached Japan we had this outstandingly surreal view of Mount Fuji. It wasn’t a clear sky, but the dust and mist cast a purple-pink shadow over the landmark and it rose above the city. It was breathtaking, one of the greatest things I’ve witnessed from an airplane window and unfortunately something I couldn’t catch on film.
Haneda was simple to navigate and super easy to get through immigration, quick and efficient the complete opposite of the American immigration at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. We were all scanned with a thermal camera to look for fever, a sign of CoronaVirus that, which made me slightly nervous because I run hot all the time. All was fine, I grabbed my bags, got my JR pass, booked a seat to Osaka for next week and got a Suica card and my pocket wifi. Then I braved the subway at rush hour with a small suitcase and a large, heavy, messenger bag. The first train out of the airport wasn’t so bad. The sun was setting behind Mount Fuji and it was this brilliant blaze of a sky silhouetting the giant volcano. An old man came and stood next to me to take some photos and then showed me them. I can say some basic stuff in Japanese so I told him they were very pretty pictures. But I am totally sticking out, my train/bag etiquette was totally all over the place because one of my bags was so damn heavy.
Honestly, the traveling was super straightforward just with Google Maps. I got to my Airbnb in no time. It’s an old studio apartment in a quiet residential area run by a couple who have a judo dojo downstairs. I accidentally called the older guy Hisao-Chan, and was immediately super embarrassed. I don’t know what it is with me but I always end up saying the things I don’t want to say. It’s been a chill evening since I’ve arrived because I’m exhausted after the lack of sleep yesterday. I raided the nearby 7/11 and YES SANDWICHES ARE AMAZING HERE. They are also STUFFED with filling, none of this filling at the front empty bread behind it nonsense. It’s so clean here, and I was walking around alleys and very quiet roads in the dark and never once felt unsafe. If you’re looking for a first-time solo adventure I would highly suggest Japan for this reason. It gives you the confidence to do more and adventure more!
I’ve settled down in the Airbnb and think I have managed to figure out the control on the heating machine. But I have Japanese TV on, which I don’t understand and am going to sleep so well tonight I hope. Tomorrow is a big, action-packed day. Bring it on.