Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How are you? Will you sign to that effect?

"Welcome to Tokyo!"

Excellent, I was desperate to stretch my legs.

"Please remain in your seats to allow the health inspectors to board."

You what? I guess in the wake of swine 'flu, Japan is being careful. I attempted to suppress images of probity-probes as men wearing surgical masks, robes and gloves starting strolling along the aisles of the plane. I tried hard not to sneeze. The passenger sitting next to me clearly had more of a guilty conscience however, and a conversation in rapid (although friendly) Japanese ensued and he was handed a thermometer. I confess that having your neighbour in the tin box that you've been sitting in for the last 13 hours admit illness that excites a response from people who look straight out of the movie "epidemic" does not make for entirely calm viewing. Fortunately, it appeared that his disease was not the disease they had been looking for and we signed health forms promising that we'd not had so much as a sniffle in the last few weeks. I now really needed to sneeze.

Japanese border control has nothing on America. Maybe they felt the health inspectors were enough to scare off future tourists. Everyone was friendly, they all spoke English and the only question I was asked at customs was how long was I staying for. I guess two large suitcases for one week would look a little odd passing through the 'nothing to declare' barrier... Nice, cheerful, calm. Okay, they win. I was freaked out.

To get out to where I was staying, I had to catch an express train into Tokyo, followed by a subway and then a bus. Probability of success? I was estimating about 2%. However, it honestly was the easiest thing in the world. The trains and buses all had electronic signs that told you in Japanese and English where the next stop was and the subways are colour coded.

Then I had dinner and discovered the restaurant had whole rack of different types of loose tea you could make up in your own individual tea pot. Also, that "はし (hashi)" means chopsticks. Hello Japan, we're rolling.

No comments:

Post a Comment