Departure day. I woke up around 6am and enjoyed my last looks out the window of the Prince Hotel of room 1020. Looking at the skyscrapers of Tokyo all around, looking at the temple and shrines just below and to the right. Quickly, I got cleaned up and dressed. Shoved the final bits into my suitcases, now knowing that these little pieces are going to make my bags 1 kilogram overweight! I certainly didn’t have any more room in my hand luggage, so I’ll just wait to see what happens. I put my bags outside my room with red ribbons tied on them as we were instructed. Different departure times from Narita Airport had a different colored ribbon with different colored luggage tags. My bags had to be outside my room at 8:10am. It was now 7am and I went down for a final giant buffet breakfast. Oh, how we have eaten on this adventure! The breakfast seemed, oddly, more western than Japanese. This was part of the decompression process that they had explained to us a couple of days ago. (or maybe it’s just what I selected this morning). I visited with a few other teachers that were down early for breakfast. There are all kinds of departure times and luggage times for folks as I mentioned with the colored ribbons. Several folk were not leaving until late afternoon, so were able to run about Tokyo again. I was the early flight, UA884, departing at 3:30pm. That’s early? Well, considering that all the luggage is loaded on a special truck from the hotel, then all the passengers are loaded on special busses from the hotel and then we are transported to the airport and have to be there at least three hours ahead of time, with one hour extra built in for emergencies, well, then, I am on the early flight! After breakfast, I headed back up to my room. It was exactly 8:10am, and sure enough, there were the men picking up the luggage from outside my room. Always on time! I went into my room for a final few minutes before heading to the lobby to check out and wait with all the others. I had a cup of tea, enjoyed the view, and then headed out. I checked out, paying Y1570 for the use of the computer and Internet during this stay. I spoke with several of the teachers and also the directors of the JFMF program, including Kyoko Jones. She asked if I would be interested in starting an alumni program in Indiana for this program. I think this would be a great idea and hope to be able to oblige in the near future. In a while, Keiko, the tour guide that met us at the very first, when we arrived in Japan about three weeks ago, appeared and was coordinating everyone that would be on my bus to the airport. We had to double check our luggage in the lobby to make sure it had indeed been picked up from our rooms and that it had our name on it. The luggage was put into the truck. I am thinking, how in the world is all this luggage going to fit on this plane? Everyone has at least two overstuffed suitcases now! Well, it’s now time to board the bus. Goodbye beautiful places, things, and kind-hearted people. Those that are to be on the bus are on the bus (with the exception of one lady, who finally after 5 minutes shows up…..it is not tolerable to be late in Japan, and the organizers were not at all pleased. Her name was recorded!). Suddenly, a long line of people appears in coats and ties, dresses, uniforms. It’s the JFMF people, the hotel desk staff, the hotel front door staff, the tour operators, and several others, and then the teachers that have later flights appear in the line. As the bus pulls away, it’s waving time and everyone starts waving and waving, and still waving as our bus disappears from sight! Our journey from the Tokyo Prince Hotel to Narita Airport takes about 1 ½ hours. On our way we pass Kawasaki, Odaiba, Disney, rice patties and eventually arrive through security screening of the bus into the airport grounds. We have to wait a few minutes due to the amount of luggage still being unloaded off the truck. For my flight, there were threee busses that left the hotel together. After about 10 minutes, the luggage was ready for us to put on a catt and go to check in. into the airport and over to United to check in. the wait for a service window wasn’t too long. I was overweight in both bags by a kilogram. So I took some out of one bag, and then some out of my hand luggage and put into one of the suitcases, putting it up to the maximum overweight allowance, all for one price! I paide Y3000. There several folks that bought a third suitcase for their overweight…their cost was Y20,000 ! (Yikes). I think I did well! Now, I was hungry. I ran into Stephanie Scott from Oklahoma one last time and we found a McDonald’s in the airport to have lunch. I had another shrimp burger combo! Oh,and the price was the same as it would have been at a McDonald’s on the street. After lunch, I went to the Duty Free shop and found some more books that I was interested in. I only bought four of them. Then, the flight was announced to board. It was a Boeing 777. I had seat row 39, just a few from the tail of the plane,and sat next to a lady that had been in the Sakorojima group that went to southern Japan. We exchanged a few stories, then both fast asleep. We woke for our meals, though. We had a breakfast, then a snack of Ramen noodles which they brought a pot of hot water to soften them up with and also chop sticks!, and then we had a lunch. Several folks were aable to watch three or four movies. I think I saw four plor five bits of one movie “ Transformers”, but never saw all of it. It was time to land in Chicago. It was fairly easy getting off the plane, and after a few minutes (seemed like forever, though) my luggage arrived and then through customs and turning the luggage back into United to send on to Indianapolis. Took the tram over to Terminal 2, ran into Stephanie again and we had hot dogs, then she departed for Oklahoma City. Then after about an hour, it was time to depart for Indy on a much smaller plane run by Southwest. Within an hour, I was home, arriving in the evening. My mom was there to greet me and we picked up luggage as it appeared quickly, got it on a cart and then headed to the parking garage and out we went. We stopped by home quickly and then went to our friend Ruth’s house and all went to dinner at Golden Corral, where for the next couple of hours, I told tales of Japan! My dinner that I filled my plate with oddly looked familiar. Oh my….it was rice, with stewed vegetables, a little meat, some potatoes, and fruit….where did that idea come from?!!!!
After dinner, we watched some pictures on the computer and then it was sleep time.