Notes on a flight…

(This was written while on the plane from Tokyo to Fukuoka)

  • The flight from SFO to Narita is remarkably pleasant, and goes quite quickly. ANA is a pleasant airline, save for the fact that food is somewhat scarce. Pack sandwiches next time.
  • Narita airport is not, in fact, in Tokyo, but in BFE about 60 kilometers from Tokyo. Traffic getting from Narita to Haneda is manageable but I’m glad my flight was about 40 minutes early.
  • On the way in to Tokyo, we passed a truck carrying swine. Now, I’ve seen many such trucks before, but never while heading in to a major metropolitan area. I suppose they must like their food very fresh. (Think Restaurant at the End of the Universe fresh…)
  • Speaking of which, Tokyo isn’t at all like I imagined it – somehow I expected an enormous number of very densely packed skyscrapers. The overall urbanization density here seems somewhat lower than that of Tel Aviv; it’s just big, stretching out all over the place.
  • For no apparent reason, I’ve been placed in business class on the flight to Fukuoka. I’m not complaining but I have no idea why this happened or how. (The fact that I don’t speak Japanese may have contributed to this latter phenomenon)
  • And speaking of which, I’ve started to study Japanese, on the theory that I’ve got about 15 hours of travel, how hard a language could it be? [/sarcasm] As of now I can construct simple sentences, the most useful of which so far is:

    Watashi wa nihongo o naraimasu kara kyo no asa. Anata wa eigo o hanaserimasu ka?

    (Which means either “I’ve been studying Japanese since approximately this morning. Any chance you speak English?” or “My aardvark is very ill, do you have any eligible daughters?” I’m not quite sure, which means I probably need to work harder on the language.)

Published in: on December 16, 2002 at 12:31  Comments (5)  


  1. A few of comments:
    0) I suppose the plane flight would seem short… If you’re used to flying to Israel.
    1) A bizarre thing about Japanese culture is that it does not appear to have the concept of ‘suburban’. There is the city, the country, and no middle ground. Inuyama (the town I stayed in for about a week) had a level of urbanization somewhere between that of Palo Alto and Atherton (about the same population density as PA, but more apartments, so fewer, larger buildings), and it was in the ‘country’. I would be willing to point to this as the reason why there are trucks of swine that close to the city.
    2) Don’t worry too much about telling people you don’t know Japanese. If you say “I don’t know Japanese” in Japanese to a Japanese person, chances are they’ll be amazed that you know Japanese and refuse to believe you if you say otherwise. This happened to Hans. If you want them to try English, simply stare vacantly and try to mime what you want. This is the Japanese phrase for “I am a clueless foreigner. Be amazed at my ability to use chopsticks and please, for the love of god, try to talk to me in English.” To be fair, I’m not sure what this approach will do down in Sasebo, where I’d imagine they’re fairly used to Americans by now, at least around the base.
    3) Say hi to Sabrina for me!
    4) Eat some Okonomiyaki for me!
    5) Bring back pictures of Engrish!
    6) Heck, just bring back lots of pictures. I really can’t vicariously visit Japan enough. 😛
    7) Is it possible to cram eight comments into “A few”? Oh well. 😛

  2. Perhaps I should stick to using this handy phrasebook.

    Watashi no hoverukerafu wa unagi de tsumikomareru.

  3. The only word I know in that sentence is “unagi,” but I like it for that reason alone.

  4. My hovercraft is apparently laden therewith.

  5. *laugh*
    Given the Douglas Adams references back there, I should have known.
    Still, unagi. Yum. 🙂 I think it was to I was recently expressing an urge to eat my way through Japan.

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