Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 15 (final day)

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The final day was pretty subdued – we had a bit of a sleep-in before tackling packing everything away and making sure the weight was distributed evenly between the bags (at this point we had also paid for an additional bag of luggage for the trip home). Luckily we had one of those hand weighing devices you hang your bag from and it then calculates the weight, and we were at about 20-21kg each, which wasn’t too shabby when you consider the max we had was 23kg per bag (and we had three bags, plus carry-on luggage!).

After that we took the monorail back to the Bayside Station to grab a couple of things for Wifey from Bon Voyage we missed when we were at Disneyland. The trip was eventful (as always!) due to my misfortune of slipping on the pavement while walking to the store. Thankfully my fake leg simply folded underneath me at a freaky angle and took the brunt of the fall, so apart from a bit of water on my jeans and the horror of the girls behind me – from what I could understand they were a little freaked out due to the angle and speed of descent, and my apparent lack of concern upon standing up – no worries. Proves that it can be handy being an amputee sometimes ?

Anywho, we made it to the store without any other difficulties and grabbed some more gear to take home. Once we had finished we dashed back to the monorail station one last time to grab some ramen from one of the restaurants on the way, then it was back to the hotel to kill some time to wait for the shuttle bus (as we had arranged for late checkout, we could take our time with everything, which was a really great way to finish up the trip). Since the hotel had a Segafredo caffe in the lobby we enjoyed something light to kill the time – we’d oddly book-ended the trip when you consider the first place we grabbed a bite to eat and a drink from was a Segafredo near the Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku!

The drive back to Narita on the shuttle bus was a little different compared to last time – when we first arrived there was an eponymous thrill seeing Japan unfold for the first time that I was in close physicality to its environment. As we exited the concrete jungle it was with the experiences that helped mold our understanding of the country and it’s people, even if seen through an undergrad anthropologist with an undiminished fascination and enthusiasm for the country.

With a distinct lack of pickups and comparatively light traffic as far as Tokyo goes, we got to Narita in plenty of time, which came in handy since we had a prolonged conversation when checking in our luggage as I was bringing back a wakizashi iaito sword pilules de viagra. The process was reasonably straightforward as my combination of English and Japanese helped explain the situation (I ended up describing it as an iaito no ken in case the attendant checking us in wasn’t aware of what an iaito was), and at that point we had to wait for a customs official to come over, look at the sword and test it before giving us the all-clear; as we walked off I noticed another staff member plonking on a big warning sticker advising of the suitcase containing an imitation sword. Handy.

Next up was getting through security, which was another interesting experience as my prosthesis sets off the alarms on metal detectors. Again, a combination of my Japanese and a little English saw us get through without too much trouble, and I have to say that the Japanese security personnel were fantastic with how courteous they were during the lengthy process. Customs followed, but that was nice and easy, then it came down to killing time in the duty free areas before settling in the lounge area next to the terminal gates and watching a soccer anime that seemed somewhat interesting. On the way through we also jumped into the duty-free stores and picked up some boxes of unusually flavoured Kit-Kats – matcha, hojicha, strawberry and I think something else… Japanese sweets are the best ?

Soon enough we were jumping on board with the other passengers bound for Sydney, with the flight being completely full this time around due to the sizable group of high school students on board for an exchange program with some lucky school back at home. The flight actually seemed to go a little faster this time – we had a very rocky and turbulent start, but after about 45 minutes we were generally pretty stable. I ended up killing some time watching a couple of TV shows on the in-flight entertainment system before settling in for some Chrono Trigger on my DSiXL, which happened to be my first time cranking it out since I bought it just over a month back to complement our launch-model DS – the improved screen size and clarity made it a joy to play.

After churning through some CT I played a bit of Sonic Rush before turning it off for being too punishing for my taste and loaded up Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, and then stopped playing that after about 15 minutes of running around not really remembering where I was up to with my old save data. The rest of the flight is a bit blurry – I managed to get a bit of restless sleep in here and there, watched a bit more TV, ate a little bit of food, that kind of thing. Props to the staff on the flight, too.

We arrived in Sydney only a little bit later than expected, grabbed our gear and headed through customs, where my baggage once again proved to be tricky as the Australian Customs agent had to take a look at the sword to test that it was okay to go, which also involved talking to a number of other personnel. The staff were courteous and polite though, and it helped that I could explain everything in my native language!

Once that was sorted we were off through the final stages of entering the country to put our luggage through, so we got to go through baggage inspection all over again as we transferred our luggage to our connecting domestic flight, but props to the Qantas staff for being really nice through the whole thing. Thankfully the sword was easily accessible underneath a pile of nerd stuff wrapped in bags and a couple of t-shirts bought in H&M in Osaka.

From there it was off to the domestic terminal to kill some time (and we also managed to catch up with my Dad, who happened to have some time in Sydney airport between flights the same morning owing to some work commitments), then before we knew it we were boarding the domestic flight, which seemed amusingly minuscule compared to the larger aircraft you jump on for international flights.

In a couple of hours we were back home, safe and sound, with all our luggage and the usual fatigue and smelliness inherent to traveling over a period greater than 24 hours. Nothing a shower and an early night couldn’t fix though ?

… and that’s about it! Japan was an amazing adventure and certainly fulfilled my ongoing desire to visit a country alien yet pop-culturally familiar. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the journey in blog-form, and maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough to visit again ?

If you’ve enjoyed the blog and want to view all the images in one spot, the full gallery is at Image Galleries – 2012 Japan trip. I’ll also be going through what I have and put some 1080p wallpapers together too, but I’m not sure off the top of my head how long that’ll take me to sort out! I’ll be sure to update the blog once I’ve uploaded them.

I’m also planning on doing a follow-up post containing some general tips for fellow gaijin who haven’t traveled to Japan before or are considering planning a trip. It certainly won’t be definitive, but will contain a good chunk of some things I learned throughout the process that others may find useful too.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

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