My first glimpse of Japan came in sparse intervals between the massive rain clouds. I spotted a river running south, barely visible through theovercast, but it was enough to get me thinking- I'm actually going to Japan! One hour and a 35,000 foot descent later, I had a full view of Tokyo...well, of the airport at least. Sitting in the middle section of a big plane doesn't allow for much viewing, but I was able to crank my neck far enough right and just enough left to take in the rainy day outside. It looked like, well, New York.
The first signal that I wasn't in New York came when I departed the plane, crossed the bridge, and finally entered Narita International Airport. It was freakishly quiet...sure, there were hundreds of passengers filing briskly this way and that, but they did it in an efficiently polite way never seen on our side of the Pacific. And so I wandered on to locate my connecting flight to Taipei. This proved easy as the billboard-sized departure screen alternated between katakana, kanji, and the Roman alphabet. I was on floor 4 and, needing to get to 3 pressed a nearby down button. Without a delay, clean pistons visible beyond the glass elevator doors churned and, within 5 seconds, and elevator had arrived. In Japanese it greeted me, asked where I wanted to go and, when I pressed the open door button, announced, "matte iru" (Waiting).
After locating my gate and getting my bearings together, I saught a restroom...
In America we have a wide variety of optinos when it comes to bathrooms, but nothing compares to what I saw in Narita. Everything was clean, and so clean...I mean, the white urinals (made of some kind of synthetic) were almost reflecting everything. Also, as was the case with the elevator, everything was quiet. The flush was smooth, not a gluspsplash, and made me think soothing thoughts (really!). Even washing my hands was an experience! Of course, everything down to the soap dispenser was automated. But on top of that, I could control the precise temperature (in actuall degree measurements) of the water coming out! The hand dryer was so powerful (yet, again, so quiet) that my hands dried almost instantly.
Right now, I'm sitting across an 70ish Japanese lady (who must be 4 feet tall by the way) playing a game on her cell phone. Which reminds me, I forgot to talk about the elderly Japanese folk from the flight! Okay so that isn't true...I'm actually in my Taipei hostel. I just recorded my thoughts as I was sitting in front of here. Nonetheless, reminds me to mention the following things next time:
1. Japanese folk exercising on plane
2. My adventure getting to the Taipei hostel
3. What I saw tonight on a Taipei street fair tour
Thanks for reading everyone!