Life is Full of Surprises

I leave California, Tokyo bound.

I think I have all the necessary attestations asked for by Japan but the situation is fluid with rumors of Tokyo introducing a state of emergency. Will they let me in when I get there?

Life is full of surprises. I am given a First Class ticket. First Class on ANA is heaven. I am surprised that it is not depicted in medieval paintings of paradise.

My flight leaves at midnight. James takes me to SFO early. I intend to sprawl in the First Class Lounge until I am carried onto the plane. Check in is very long; so many health papers to process. No way onto the flight unless all Covid tests have been documented. When finished I hungrily ask about lounges. “We apologize sir, but all lounges are closed due to COVID-19.” ,

The central theme of traveling internationally in these times of pestilence is emptiness. SFO is empty, the flight is empty, Haneda, when I get there, is empty.

Here is a movie about the trip.


What makes ANA better than all airlines I know is the staff. They are funny, relaxed, super efficient.

I get a separate bedroom and nice, new pyjamas. I sleep for 9 hours and am issued off the plane on arrival by Immigration Officers.

First Class vainglory starts as I am taken off first. I go through several different stations each of which has a certain bureaucratic task. I am terrified that there will be something wrong with my paperwork but I successfully arrive in a booth where I have to salivate into a little plastic tube. The sailva is tested for COVID-19.

From there I am directed to a waiting area to er await the results.

Waiting for my result. There is nobody here.

Everything has gone swimmingly but now the tide turns. I mean I travelled First Class. I have been at the front of every queue. In fact there are no queues but I am full of pomp and vainglory. In the waiting room, everyone’s number is called before mine. I am #20. In the 40’s I start to worry that everything has gone wrong. I am positive, I have the wrong paperwork. Since school days I have been naturally guilty.

What about me?

What joy when my number 20 lights up on the screen!

I passed!

I am afraid I cannot remember the number of posts I went through before I finally got my passport stamped and burst into baggage collection. There were a lot. They were all staffed by young Japanese, nearly all women. I don’t think any of them were over 30. They were smiling, welcoming, super efficient and spoke great English. I think they must have been trained up in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics. COVID-19 has made use of their skills. Thanks to you all.

Hand written!

I am driven to a bland apartment block somewhere in Tokyo.

14 days
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8 Responses to Life is Full of Surprises

  1. Alan says:

    Good to know that you managed to get past all the checks. Which is your window in that block? Will we get a guided tour to the apartment? Stay healthy and enjoy your incarceration as as much as you can.

    • Hi Alan,
      I am middle apartment on the 4th floor. It is very cold and grey in Tokyo and my exploration walks have been short. However I am not far from Asakusa so I will hike off there when the sky gets a bit bluer.
      Stay well!

  2. kasey hall says:

    Hi, How do the apartment arrangements work? Did you have it set up before hand?

    • Hi Kasey,
      Yes I did it through MetroResidences.
      81 3 4405 5226.
      They were really good. They will offer you a range of apartments. Mine is great, check the movie, and about $1000 for 14 days.
      They also organize transport from Haneda, which is included in the price.
      Contact them.
      Happy New Year and have a hreat trip.

  3. virtuallyrachelgmailcom says:

    Your missives are delightful…it seems I can actually HEAR your voice as I read them…that’s very nice. Happy New Year (from the US) etc. You probably know already (and anticipated) that it is both rainy and dreary here, with folks all hunkered-down because it is the wet time of year. Nonetheless, we had a lovely (albeit quiet) Christmas and received a gorgeous bouquet of roses from Matthew&Sawako … they are in Tokyo, as you know, and yet they accomplished this feat of flower delivery which I have had a tough time doing between Palo Alto and San Francisco! So we are off-and-running into the new year!! I’m sure you’ve read the U.S. news; suggest you hang on to your hat (as shall I)! ❤Rachel

    On Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 12:10 AM The Quiet Ripple Defines The Pond wrote:

    > spikekalashnikov posted: ” I leave California, Tokyo bound I think I have > all the necessary attestations asked for by Japan but the situation is > fluid with rumors of Tokyo introducing a state of emergency. Will they let > me in when I get there? Life is full of surprises. I am” >

    • Good New Year Rachel! Happy to see that you can post again. Invading the Capitol!!!!!
      So sorry I missed you. I was so looking forward to scrounging a lunch at the Faculty Club.
      I am in the same dilemma here, lots of friends whom I cannot meet due to lockdown.
      My study of sake is advancing well.
      Lots of love

  4. Alan says:

    Wow, the Japanese seem almost as slack in their quarantine arrangements as the Brits! My friend Helen went back to Australia at the start of last December and there was no choice other than a small cabin on a holiday resort outside Brisbane. Nothing could be ordered in and all food supplied by authorities whilst going out was limited to 100 yards of the cabin. All this for a mere £1000 for two weeks. However, Australia does have much better Covid figures than Japan, let alone the UK! Enjoy your super-mild quarantine!

    • They are very strict on who can enter Japan. I think it is only Citizens and Permanent Residents. These have to have a negative test less than 72 hours before arrival and second test on arrival. After that it is very Japanese in that the Government can only suggest behaviour.
      Tokyo tightened things a bit yesterday but again these are only recommendations. Of course everyone obeys the recommendations.
      Stay well in Stoney!

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