After 33 hours of travel: pulling an all-nighter, two airplanes, and one van ride. I am finally here in Japan. Our team is staying in Ishinomaki, Japan which is about 8 hours north of Tokyo. Being in Asia right now is so surreal. I still can’t believe I am basically on the other side of the world from my home.
The international plane flight wasn’t too bad. Since traveling to Finland a few years ago, I’ve learned that in order to combat jet lag, I must sleep on the plane following the sleep patterns of the country I’m flying to. The lunch they served us was chicken, rice, and airplane sushi. Yum. I’ve noticed that the airplane food on an international flight will consist of something typical of the place you are traveling. This case being sushi!
The first impression I got of Japan was not too long after we first got off the airplane and my old roommate, Julia, ran up to me and saying “Rachel, you have to come to the bathroom with me!” I followed her into the bathroom and it was pretty much a porcelain hole in the ground. There were instructions nearby that were in Japanese, but going off the pictures you basically had to squat above it. Our whole Japan team probably came off as silly Americans because we all then were in the bathroom being chatty girls about the toilets.
After landing, we met up with our missionary contact here, Jim. And then they got three vans for us to travel to Ishinomaki in. I was praying the whole time for safety since some of our guys drove the vans and the steering wheel was on the opposite side of the car. And they drove on the opposite side of the road.
The ride to Ishinomaki was quite a long one! It took us about nine hours to reach our destination. We stopped on the way to get dinner and I was so confused about how to order. Instead of going up to a cash register, you pick from a machine (kind of like a vending machine) what meal you want, then you insert money and they give you a ticket. You then took the ticket up to the counter.
Dinner tonight was miso soup with noodles and fried rice. We went to a food court-type place and authentic Japanese food is better than anything I’ve tried in a Japanese restaurant in an American food court. I was reminded to not blow on my soup (because that is offensive) and to feel free to slurp my soup loudly! While there, I also bought some melon bread which is amazing! Not as good as Finnish dallas-pulla but definitely close!
The theme of the conversations of our team so far have revolved around the interesting toilets. Aside from the one that was a porcelain hole in the ground, the ones that are actual seats have buttons on the side. You can choose to have a heated seat, press a button for a bidet setting, or you can press a button for “music” which is the sound of a toilet flushing (I’m not really sure the point of that one).
When our team finally arrived to our destination, we were greeted by Noah, Yoshi, Yato, Luke, and three others that I can’t recall their name at the moment. All are Japanese except for Luke and they spoke English pretty well. We had to take off our shoes before entering the facility (custom). For our group of 25, we have two bathrooms, but only one shower! I’m going to wake up early and hopefully beat some people to the shower. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera cord so pictures will come after I get home. But until then, I’ll add the ones I can! Good night!