Day 1- Getting to Tokyo
Before leaving for Tokyo I was actually looking forward to the flight. My sister and I were loaded up with books on my Kindle, games on the iPad, a guided meditation for sleeping and plenty of snacks. Besides, weeks of travel planning had left me yearning for some sleep and mindlessness.
The first flight to San Francisco seemed longer than 2 hours. What? We still had a connecting flight of 10 hours to go? That seemed a little cruel.
Especially when we got an older plane without those cool in-seat personal TV screens. Still there were benefits. Did you know that trans-pacific flights get you free beer and wine? And that Sake is rice wine so it counts if you have cool flight attendants? Still, all the free sake bombers in the plane can’t buy you the freedom of being able recline more than 5 degrees. So when we arrived in Tokyo, we were feeling a little rough.
But we made our way through the immigration line, the customs line, the baggage line, the ATM line and finally the train ticket line in the humid, warm airport still brimming with as much excitement as we could patiently muster. And then we finally got on that train. That high-tech, sparkling clean, roomy Japanese train. We’d landed in Narita so we settled in for an hour and a half ride to our stop in Shinjuku.
At first we oohed and ahhed over the beautiful green landscape that flashed by our big windows whenever we broke out of the dark tunnels. But then my oohs and ahhs became a little more pained as all that flashing landscape started to make me queasy. And then more than queasy.
I’d spent years as a child throwing up on car trips. Every one. So I’ve gotten pretty good at a being a polite vomiter. I can usually give some warning, like, “Mom. I will need to throw up in the next 15 minutes so please pull over when you can.” And can even usually wait till a restroom is clear to start making my “Huuuuwaaahhhh” noises.
But this was a super high-tech, though not too steady, Japanese train hurtling to downtown Tokyo with nary a stop. So all I managed was to calmly removed a Ziploc bag full of snack bars and crackers from my backpack, mutter to my sister “I’m going to throw up,” in a gruff, Batman-esque voice, and then immediately start vomiting (mostly) into this bag.
At this point I chose not to look around and my sister gamely held up a jacket to curtain me from the view of the other passengers on this crowded train, but I’m pretty sure they were all disgusted. I felt disgusted. How could I do this on such a clean, polite Japanese form of transportation? I’m sure they were all judging me too, because what I didn’t realize at the time was that between the train cars are some really nice, super-high tech, clean Japanese bathrooms. I could have walked 10 feet, locked myself in the bathroom, turned on the bidets “flushing” music so no one heard my “heeecckkkk” noises, and then used the “toilet disinfecting wipes” to wipe it all down. The toilets even have “deodorizers” just to make it all peachy.
Instead, my sister fished a Drammamine out of the bottom of her purse and told me to put it under my tongue so it’d get into my system faster, which I did, but you should never do because it burns. And I sat with vomit caked in my hair and around my face, clutching a Ziploc bag of spew. Just go to the bathroom, I’m sure every other passenger was thinking, just go to the bathroom.
The drammamine did kick in though, and helped somewhat with the naseau, though it also made me extremely groggy. Like head lolling, eyes unable to focus, stumbling groggy. Which made it extra fun to arrive in Shinjuku at an outside platform, in the rain, and then drag my heavy ass suitcase up the tallest flight of stairs ever, and then promptly fall down some other stairs.
Lesson: In a culture obsessed with saving face, you should try to avoid puking or falling on yours.