On Friday, August 4th, I boarded a delta flight en route to Japan (Nihon or Nippon in Japanese). I had a short layover before the long haul, which I usually hate, but spending a little extra time in the US just seemed right since my whole life was about to change. Both flights were pretty comfortable and I took a few naps during the trip to relax myself for what was to come.
The next day, I arrived at Narita airport in Tokyo. Going through immigration and getting my residence card was a breeze. While waiting in line, I chatted with another couple who were on the same flight. They were also relocating from the US and had recently taken teaching jobs. We talked about being both nervous and excited about our new adventure. After getting my card, I wished the couple well, and was off to baggage claim for my two suitcases. Moments later, I was greeted by a sign with my name on it at the gate. One of the veteran teachers from my school was there to pick me up and escort me to my apartment. We took a shuttle bus to the next terminal where we picked up another new teacher. That’s when the journey really began.
Of the two main airports in the Tokyo area, Narita and Haneda, Narita is the furthest away. We were told that with a lot of luggage, it made more sense to take a charter bus to the metro in Shinjuku. The bus ride would be about an hour and a half and cost ¥ 3100 ($27). The other options would be to take a taxi for ¥ 35650 ($314) or the metro directly from the airport for ¥ 1480 ($13). The direct metro was the cheapest option but it was over a two hour ride with multiple changes. We took the bus to metro option. Although the ride on the metro wasn’t too long, I immediately experienced the extremely crowded trains of Japan that I have seen videos about. I lugged my heavy bags, with help of course, through the crowd and stood the entire ride. I was hot, tired, and annoyed when we finally arrived at my stop. As soon as we exited the station, I was very shocked by the extreme humidity and overbearing sound of cicadas in the trees. There had to be hundreds of them and they were so loud that we could hardly hear each other speaking. We walked for a few minutes and reached my apartment. I got a tour of my new place and how all the gadgets worked before my coworkers left. I didn’t stay inside too long after that. I needed to let my family know that I made it safely but I did not have Wifi. The McDonald’s across the street seemed to be the only place with free Wifi nearby so my first night, and many after that, was spent there reconnecting to the world.
I’ve heard that moving is considered a top stressful life event and I definitely agree. It’s been almost 6 months since I’ve been in Tokyo and I only recently started to feel like I can call it home. The first few months were really difficult due to bad experiences but I am not going to let those stop me from living my life.