So, I decided to take the RFID passport out for a spin, and now Neibi and I are in Sapporo, Japan, sequestered in a business hotel opposite Hokkaido University. Outside it’s a bracing -6 degrees celsius.
I will now relate to you the tale of day one.
On the first day, December 14th, we flew from Sydney to Narita (Tokyo international airport). We flew JAL and it was pretty good: the flight left late yet arrived early, we got vegetarian food, and the headrest entertainment screens were absorbing. The chick who checked us in was like an angrier Lee Lin Chin, but she got the job done.
I spent my eight and a half hours playing go (on the headrest: victory by resignation), watching movies (Stardust, enjoyable; and Ratatouille, a competent entry), playing Travel Blokus (with Neibi… we tried to play Ingenious Travel Edition but she dropped the pegs), reading Nabokov (short stories), eating (rice crackers), and playing shogi (on the headrest: defeat by checkmate).
When we landed we got into a tiny train (my head touched the roof) which took us to honour systems customs (“I’d like to declare…” “No, just go through.”). From there we took the famous airport limo bus to Haneda (Tokyo domestic).
So, the first day was most spent sitting down, but after checking into our hotel (which was nice) we strolled through the industrial ghetto seeking dinner. We found an extremely Japanese street, which was laid out as follows: curry house, medical clinic, hana-ya, yakitori stand, level crossing, McDonalds, Lawson konbini, karaoke bar, soba restaurant. The soba place had a kana / primary school kanji menu so I thought I had a decent shot at ordering our dinner.
We got ooki yasai soba o futatsu, which for some reason had spam in it (“spam, spam, eggs and spam, tenpura and spam”, etc). The patrons mocked us in a friendly fashion. “Dozo”, they said, gesturing to the counter as I fell over trying to remove my shoes. The proprietor was a fan of Australia and kept mentioning Kingusu Kurossu, which he was keen on.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel (an East-West buffet with fruit salad and cold miso), then flew to Sapporo, Hokkaido.