Moshi, moshi



Moshi, moshi JAPAN!
The wing opposite Shinjuku Train Station. View from my hotel room by day & night.

THE pilot gave the double ping signal then the routine voice over came on air… “In a short while, we will be landing at the Nagoya International Airport…. Siguraduhin po lamang na nakasuot ang sinturong pangkaligtasan….” came in Nipongo as well.

Goosebumps!

The geisha (in his past life, reincarnated as a semi-Bisaya Pinoy, who transforms into another Japanese, Sadako, once a year on a full moon or on the last evening of the tenth month) is almost home. It would have been easier to come crawling out in some local’s TV set but that would be breaking and entering or illegal entry, both are criminal acts, and that would mean deportation. It’s best to enter a dream destination with propriety.

Through the plane’s peephole, the shoreline of Japan approached, passed the manicured pastures, then the runway.

Touchdown.

Sa ilang sandali ay lalapag na tayo sa pandaigdigang paliparan ng Narita…
It was a good choice to take the flight that arrived Japan by noon. I was traveling alone and still bore my apprehensions of “what ifs”, getting lost in bustling Tokyo and in translation, were on top of the list. Daylight will be a good companion should I have to search of my hotel.

Clearing Japanese Immigration (I noticed the officers were quite young. Well the Asians’ looks can be deceiving) went without any hitches. I got cleared after a couple of questions where one was if I had food and cosmetics in my luggage. Huh? I was void of the Kabuki keshou, if there was any trace of the white oshiroi since I took Sadako’s form, it’ll be astounding if she detected it. If she did, she can be an asset to the CSI. Tokyo edition. With the only flight arriving from abroad (I think), no immigration snags and an airport bare of arriving passengers, I cruised the distance from plane to bus in a flash.

Breezed through.
From tube to customs to arrival lobby.

Choosing the bus was a no brainer. I know this trip was an adventure, but I can’t risk being TOO adventurous experimenting on train line changes lest I hop on the wrong cab and find myself in Kyoto, which has the bears the same letters as Tokyo. Taking a taxi, on the other hand, would probably be like shelling out for a plane fare from Manila to Hong Kong, and the hotel transfers pretty much cost the same. So it’s the bus for me, and not just a bus, a limousine bus! It resembles a bus, in fact it is one, but offering a non-stop the trip from Narita to town, so it’s special.

Fare – Y3,000. Travel time – 11/2 hours. Shinjuku here I come.

Bus ride to Shinjuku- Y3,000
Road trip- PRICED LESS!
It could have been the famous shopping district of Ginza, but a friend suggested I stay in Shinjuku where Tokyo business mixes with shopping. So I booked a hotel in the area, nearest to terminus of the bus ride. The idea made me feel secure.

The bus ride was a journey on its own. The roads were spotlessly clean, green clusters sprouting every so often, and bridges offered refreshing sights of water, alternating with the concrete groupings of buildings.

As the structures got taller, I knew I was in the city. The streets got busier with cars zooming by, the pedestrians in dark suits by the hundreds zipping with quick small gaits. I was in the central business district.

Busy, busy Shinjuku.
Exactly 1 1/2 hours later, I alit the bus in Shinjuku beside the massive JR Train Station. My hotel was supposed to be beside this stop. I don’t see it. Even with the printed map on hand, I was disoriented. Panic?

No. I got used to asking for directions all the time and the Japanese who came to my aid even offered to show me to the hotel’s doorstep. And he did and after several small bows and domo arigatos he went his way. Hallelujah to Japanese hospitality!

Want some good news? I got upgraded to a bigger room! Apparently they overbooked, and luckily, I had a confirmed booking with requests on a high floor with a great view of the city. I got all.

From my window I yelled out, “Moshi, moshi Japan!”

This was going to be one fabulous trip!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 02, 2011.


# 1. Where I was.


Peddling along Shinjuku’s  Electric Street.

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