The hour has arrived! My bags are packed, the fridge cleared out (mostly) and I’m ready to wing my way to Japan for a month and a half of touring, photography and video creation. This trip I left the travel guitar at home and managed to pack a week’s worth of clothes, laptop computer, hard disks, Nikon DSLR, video camera, audio recorder, stereo field microphone, cables and accessories into a mere three pieces of luggage.
Checkin and security was uber fast and efficient thanks to no lines a full two and a half hours early and my penchant for having all of my boarding materials ready in plastic organizers (Japanese of course). The airport was a ghost town at that hour and that’s just fine.
TSA decided to search my backpack while boarding, since my stereo field microphone looked suspicious in the scanners. I think they just wanted to drool over the video and audio gear I’m carting over to Japan, all of which has to be declared on the way in by the way, otherwise they think you’re not paying your duty on goods purchased in country.
[ First Time Traveler Tip: Make a printed record of boarding passes, hotel arrangements, your passport, and all expensive purchases so that you can declare them when entering Japan! ]
Unlike prior years I decided to splurge on extra legroom seats. I’ve also discovered that the seats over the wing are MUCH QUIETER than the economy seats behind the wing. I had originally reserved a seat to the side of the lavitory bulkhead because it offered additional legroom but I switched to a premium economy aisle seat over the wing because I figured that the lavitory would be a high traffic area… and two days prior to my departure date. Remember the days when they mailed you a ticket? Gone now and replaced with web automation.
[ First-Time Traveler Tip: Extra leg room seats, aisle seating and over the wing seats! ]
Although I did watch our progress on the real time video plot, I was disappointed to find that there was no nose cam on board this flight, depriving me of the opportunity to watch the tundra and ice flows pass beneath us. And it still feels strange that the shortest path to Japan from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States is over the Canada and Alaska, otherwise I’d be earning 12,000 frequent flyer miles not 6,000.
The Jazz channel over the in flight sound system made for a pleasent and uneventful flight. Glad I disn’t bother bringing my noise cancellation headphones as the free headphones (and over the wing seats) were entirely adequate and more comfortable. Ironically, one of the cuts on the playlist is a jazz standard that NHK uses as its theme song for their “Mark of Beauty” program. This is auspicious.
And so it begins in earnest…
My traveling companion and I have decided to schedule the next trip to Japan for this coming Fall. Again we will be based in Tokyo as the hub of our travels to Yokohama, Chiba, North to the Tohoku region, Sendai, Matsushima, Akita and back down through Gifu Prefecture.
Because my birthday is so close to the departure date, I’m leaving a week or more earlier for Kyoto, touring the Kansai region, then returning to Tokyo to celebrate my birthday before settling down in an apartment in Tokyo.
A full six weeks of documentary, travel, music, photography and video projects in Japan!