I can hardly believe we were in Japan this morning... oh wait, it's actually yesterday morning.... oh never mind.
This was our last free Toyoko Inn breakfast. I wish I could eat like this every morning. This was the first morning they didn't serve rice balls. They served rice, just not musubi (flavored rice balls).
Tomorrow morning, I'm back to my usual oatmeal with cranberries.
After breakfast we talked to our son, Jon in New Mexico via Skype. Our daughter and granddaughter also called to wish us a safe flight. I had to smile when I heard Jon's parting words, "Talk to you again when you're state-side."
We left Toyoko Inn behind us and headed toward the train station. We had 6 carry-ons and 1 check-in luggage that we were pulling along. I kept counting our items at every stop. Thank goodness we had auntie to push mom.
Since we left Toyoko Inn at 9:45 AM and our train did not leave until noon, we had quite a bit of time to kill. Auntie was able to do some more "omiyage" (present) shopping with mom while we made use of the comfortable wheelchair.
Our next stop was to buy our bento (box lunch). There was such a huge selection we had the hardest time choosing. There were three kinds that I was ready to buy for myself. Not to worry... I controlled myself.
Auntie commented that eating three big meals with rice a day for more than two weeks was going to have us all gaining weight. I weighed myself when I returned to Hawaii. It was incredible! I lost 4 pounds.
There are very few overweight people in Japan. I think it's because they don't eat a whole lot of fried, fatty foods. A lot of their diet is mostly seafood, vegetables and soybeans cooked in myriad imaginative ways.
Once on the train, I could see that the day had turned cloudy, dark and rainy. Since we would no longer be outside, we were quite comfortable.
The Shinkansen or bullet train has very spacious seats and tons of leg room. We really made use of our 2 week JR train pass. You can only buy this pass if you are a visitor to the country.
And then it was time to break out our bento lunches. Yummmm... I'm going to miss these. We have something like it in Hawaii but it's doesn't seem quite as wonderful.
Oh yes! The sisters really enjoyed it.
I wish I could fall asleep as easily as these two. It would make the time go a lot faster. Oh wait, maybe they're doing their zazen (meditation)?
Our friend, Sam had asked if we could change our train schedule to meet him in Shinazawa. It worked out perfectly. Otherwise, we'd have had to spend more time at the Osaka station buying things we had no more hands to carry with.
Sam treated us to some scrumptious dessert and coffee. I know he kept up with my blog but we couldn't help gushing over all the things we'd seen in his country. Sam had helped us immeasurably with making all our reservations for the Shinkansen and travel information inside Japan.
The two hours with Sam sped by and he led us to the train assistant who took us to our next boarding platform. Sam gave us omiyages of the most delectable rice crackers we've ever tasted. Oh yes, we already ate some. We're going to ration them in the next few days.
The Japanese really are so incredible creative with their rice crackers and mochi (glutinous rice). It doesn't sound amazingly delicious but trust me, it is!
Back on the train, auntie and mom had fun reading the magazines that Sam had brought for them.
Very quickly, we arrived at Narita Airport (outside Tokyo). We kept our fingers crossed that our three bulging suitcases had arrived safely. Not a problem. I'm so amazed at how efficient their system is... and economical. How do they do this?
We started walking toward the Jalways check-in counter on the far side of the airport. Art saw the long line of people and started to rush toward it. A uniformed woman came over to us when she saw the wheelchair. She said she would take care of us. I had to call Art back.
Good grief! She handled everything efficiently, with kindness and courtesy. They took care of our suitcases, attaching handicapped tags to them and collected mom's wheelchair, She was given an airline wheelchair to use.
Listening to them, Art and I felt wonderful that we were able to do this.
The flight had several movies to choose from. We got to see Avatar again, It's Complicated and the Sherlock Holmes movie. The time really went by quickly.
Back in Honolulu, I saw that what the Big Island woman said could be true. I'd filled out the immigration paper for all of us as one family. The passport person said quite testily, "How are you related? Do you all live in one house?"
On the other hand, we had an airport assistant help us along taking us to the front of lines to lead us through the maze of returning from a foreign country quickly. He showed us that our luggage had even been already collected for us and he took us out to the curb where my cousin and brother were waiting for us. They could hardly believe all the things we were carrying with us. I have to admit it was pretty amazing that we didn't lose anything.
We got back safely to find out that the water main had broken down the street! We've been without water now for 8 hours. Arrrghhhh!
Looking back on this trip, it's hard to believe that we wondered if we should cancel it when mom hurt her knee the Saturday night before the Monday morning we were scheduled to leave.
Busy day tomorrow. I'd better get to bed. It's almost midnight! Thanks for coming along with us, everybody. It made it that much more special that we were able to share this experience.