japan on my mind

December 8, 2010 § 4 Comments

O.T. is in Japan this entire week.  He was given a personal invitation to provide a talk on his research in semi-conductor technology.  For the second time this year, he’s been flown in, shacked up, and exploring all sorts of temples and onsens, and feasting on fresh sushi in his spare time.  Oh, am I ever green as a Christmas tree!  He knows how badly, terribly, achingly I’ve always wanted to go to Japan.  He knows it so well that he was on the brink of purchasing my flight so I can crash his stay.  I imagine I could be blogging a much different post today from an executive suite in Kyoto.  But I, regretfully, declined.  I’ve got several classes left to instruct before my programs are over and I want to be there to bid my students farewell with their completed projects.

Technically speaking, I was actually in Japan last summer.  And, adhering to that form of technicality, I can say I’ve actually been to Japan a handful of occasions.  Of course, those times were just dismal hours spent while in transit at the airports of Tokyo-Narita, Nagoya, and Osaka, unable to step outside of the gates.  At best, I surveyed all the corners of the airport terminals, clenching on to any remnant of quirky Japanese culture at the shops and food courts.

Japan Airlines is the first I've seen with a live feed from cameras at the front of and beneath the plane. You can marvel at your current geographic backdrop…or…agonize as you watch the plane plummet to the ground unexpectedly.

Tokyo-Narita, last summer. Sans make-up, looking like an utter wreck as I do when traveling. But I was cheered up after snagging free green tea mochi samples at the shops.

Of course, I had to try the sweet potato-flavored Kit Kat, though I wouldn't recommend it.

Pre-packaged soft-serve ice cream, as only the Japanese would conjure up.

The duty-free shop has an extensive toy and gadget section, as no less expected from the Japanese. Yes, they have invented everything including empowering plastic dogs (via USB) to perform some sit-ups and perverted humping.

One day, Japan, I will see past your airport gates.

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