11 hours and 43 minutes went by surprisingly fast. I was in the middle seats of the triple seven so if I wanted look out the window I had to go to the emergency exit and peek out the little porthole. I watched a funky movie called Smash His Camera about a paparazzi named Ron Galella. I wouldn’t run and put it on Net Flix but there was this quote, “…many more photos are taken of celebrities than of famine, war, or other important things happening around the planet.” He added that this makes it the most important type of photography. I strongly disagree and am proud to be part of a group taking pictures of those other things. It was a fairly uneventful flight. I could see the snack cart in business class. An older man with a big coat kept getting up and filling his pockets with chips and pretzels. The guy across from me opened his window somewhere over Japan. I got a pretty good look at Mount Fuji. We circled in just before sunset and got to see the fog in the hills just like in the paintings. The sunset over the terminal was stunning. I stopped to pull out my camera but thought I should continue the march toward immigration.
When we first got off the plane, it really didn’t feel much different than the international terminal in San Francisco. Even the voice on the train was similar. Only here, the Japanese is first. Once we got off the train and headed down in to immigration, it all changed. The huge room was as stark as most all immigration entry points but English was very rare, like just “Foreign Passports.” Which makes it very easy to navigate; you just follow the words you recognize. Weaving through the line I wondered if I was seeing any other guardians. We need a hand gesture or something. I got to practice bowing with the guy queuing everyone up. Often I left too much space between me and the person in front of me. Bow. He smile and laughed a little.
I picked what would become the longest line at customs. I do that to lines. I should have moved when 3 other men joined my agent to talk with Osama bin Laden’s cousin. Then there was the woman that had to empty her luggage cart to find her passport. The guy in front of me gave me a look. I told him it was my fault, I do that to lines. He said, “I do too.” We were doubly doomed. When it was my turn, I think the guy was f’ing with me. I could not hear his broken English under his muffled voice. He gestured to my bag and asked me to open it. He then flipped through a binder with pictures, found the one with the marijuana photos and asked if I had any of that. So far this has all been very bizarre. I can’t imagine being stoned too. I said, no, we packed up my bag together and I entered Japan.
I need to pack for the train and am bummed because I wanted to tell you about the table of Businessmen, smoking and drinking and the one that looked like Elvis (hair, sideburns and boots) with the wall of blue shimmering Christmas lights behind him. And the plastic food. And how most of the women look like little girls (helo kitty?). And my hot can of coffee this morning… Tully’s from Seattle. But instead, I’ll suggest that you go read Elora West’s speech to the Japanese Media.
For the souls of the Ocean