Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Commercial Perfect

Locked.  The car doors were locked.  We were in our workout clothes standing outside the gym.  We stood in the lite drizzle staring at one another and the car doors.  We had closed the doors and locked them.  Good.

However . . .  Our keys were in the car.  Jessica's were in her purse on the front console.  Mine were in my assault pack sitting on the back seat.

20 minutes latter we stood outside, huddled under a small, multi-colored umbrella watching a Corporal from the Provost Marshal's Office (military police) use a slim jim on the car door.  As we stood there, in the rain, a woman in gym clothes came out to her car.  Her car was parked next to ours.  She did not have any purse or keys.  She walked to the hatchback door, put her thumb to a small reader on the handle, unlocked the doors, pulled a bag out and ran back into the gym.

I will be buying a fingerprint car when I get back to the states.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Haneda Domestic Airport, Tokyo, Japan

After a 13 hour flight from Newark, NJ, USA, to Narita International Airport, Tokoyo, Japan, I gathered my two bags and bought a bus ticket and almost immediately walked onto the bus.  On my previous trips through Narita I did not need to leave the airport to catch the flight to a domestic airport or from one.  This time I was not lucky.  I had to leave Narita to catch my flight to Hiroshima.

The bus took me from Narita to Haneda Domestic Airport.  If you’ve ever been to the National Capital Region (DC area), then this will help.  Haneda is the National Airport as Narita is to Dulles.  They are about the same distance apart, too – an hour’s drive.

The big difference between Haneda and National is size.  I have been to at least a dozen airports in the US ranging in size from 11 gates to “Oh My God! I can’t find my wing of existence, much less my gate” (Chicago-O’Hare).  National has three terminals and only on busy days (usually holidays) are there throngs of people.
I don’t think today is a Japanese Holiday – I could be wrong – but Haneda has more people than Narita in it.  It is has about the same number of gates as National, but National only has this many people on Thanksgivings Day Torture flying days.  Part of the mass of bodies probably has to do with the six floor mall in Terminal 2.  Most the shops I’ve seen are food shops of one sort or another—mostly the Japanese equivalent of the normal airport stores.  I bought a water bottle from a vending machine instead of fighting through bodies to buy something.  I found a bench along the four story glass outer wall to sit at and type.

Yes, I’m back in Japan.  I’m a head taller than most everyone I see – including the few white people (I’m not going to assume Americans).  The signs are primarily in Kanji (I think) and have secondary signs in English (thank goodness I still read).  And I’m loving the fact that most the airport workers have passable English, which far surpasses the 15 Japanese words I know. 

Back to feeling the giant in the land of homogeneous, dark haired, pale tan skinned short people.  Back to being illiterate and dumb.  Jessica and I noted in December that we went from highly educated professionals with great communication skills to uneducated and stupid.  The thing that works in our favor is our ability to put 1 and 1 together and get 2.  That helped us when we went to Hiroshima by ourselves.  It helps now when getting through a non-internationally oriented airport.