Freitag, 11. Mai 2012

May 11 - Ishinomaki, Narita Airport

My birthday started with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice in Yuki's room at midnight:-)

Then minutes after midnight Christoph called me via Skype and we talked about 25 minutes. Then it was time to continue celebrating with Yuki. First I unwrapped my presents:

my presents
I got that new purse I had already mentioned and in additon a wonderful birthday card, a kind of transparent folder to put all my papers inside and prevent them from being dog-eared. I also got special hand cream from Kyoto and a small set of clothespin for travelling plus some extra transparent foil to put my creams etc inside.

At 2 a.m. we went to bed (both of us were a little bit drunk:-) and I slept til 10 a.m. Then I had to pack, take a shower, eat breakfast and at 12:00 Yuki drove me to the bus station again. It was my moving day... I hadn't planned it very well when I booked my flights at the travel agency in Germany. I thought I could spend my birthday with Yuki and flying to Korea on May 12th without any problems but unfortunately Yuki's place was to far away from the airport and my flight too early in the morning. Thus I had to travel to the airport on my birthday to catch my flight on May 12th in the morning.

saying goodbye to Yuki and her parents
At the bus station Yuki and I were crying a little bit despite the knowledge that we would meet in Korea again....
I arrived at Sendai Station at 13:15, took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Sendai to Tokyo Station and arrived at 15:56 at Tokyo Station. There it took me some time to find my track but fortunately I had about 40 minutes to find it. The rapid train departed at 16:36 and took me to Narita Airport (arrival time was 18:09). At the well-known airport I bought some postcards (late as always) and had my birthday dinner in an Airport restaurant.
My last impressions of Japan:

rice fields
Rice fields are usuallly being planted at the beginning of May and harvested at the end of August, beginning of September. When I left these were one of the first planted rice fields (filled with water) I could see.

Sendai Station

Taxis in file at Sendai Station

my train was the first one:-)
The fastest trains in Japan are called Shinkansen. They are very comfortable but very expensive too. They have a fancy look and are quiet easy to use (compared to other public transportation systems:-) When you wanna use a Shinkansen you only have to pay attention to your train's name and the number of cars it has. Then you go to the platform and there are signs painted on the edge of the platform including the train's name that leaves from that platform and the number of the car that stops at that specific sign. So you can always find out which car number stops at what place. Then you need to know if your car is a non-reserved or a reserved car. If you have made a reservation you have to look out for the reserved cars otherwise you can take a seat wherever you want in a non-reserved car.
Signs that display the train at the track changing from Japanese to English and back. If you already know the time your train departes it is quite easy to find "your train" and wait for the display to change into English.

Thanks to Yuki, who had already looked up my train information on the internet and had written down the departure times, train names, the final destinations and car numbers of my trains I was going to take I could more or less easily follow the signs at the train station and didn't get lost:-)
fancy form of a Shinkansen (not the one I took by the way)

non-reserved sign in Japanese

non-reserved sign in English
train information in English

after changing back into Japanese

people lining up in special designated zones painted on the platform

my birthday dinner

I took the Shuttle Bus from the Airport to my hotel (Excel hotel) and arrived at the hotel at 20:00. This time I had chosen a different hotel because I wanted to have internet access in my room. It was still my birthday and I wanted to have the chance to talk with my family and Christoph. Unfortunately my sister had to work too long and because of the time difference we didn't manage to talk via Skype. But Christoph took a long break at work and we talked from 21:00 to 23:15. Afterwards I checked some emails and prepared my departure from Japan. At 1:15 a.m. (too late) I went to bed.
Of course I was a little bit disappointed when I had realized that I had to spend my birthday with travelling all day long but retrospectively I can say that it was a good day to reflect on all my memorise I had made in Japan and to bring my trip to termination.

In Summary
My visit in Japan was wonderful thanks to my friends who made my trip to an unforgettable experience. I really love Japan, especially the hospitality and friendliness of the people. I never felt scared or threatend and I could even leave my suitcase unattended and no one would take it...
Things I really like in Japan and that are worth emphazing them
1) the food:
I could die for Japanese food. My favourites are tofumilk and black sesame ice cream (very creamy and sweet) and hot Udon noodles served in a big pot filled with soy sauce and sticky potatoes and tempura prawns on the top. But I also love Sashimi and Sushi, Shabu Shabu and all the other delicious noodles and vegetables we can not find and eat in Germany. I actually never missed German food...:-)
2) toilets:
there are 2 main types of toilets in Japan: the old japanese style squat toilets and the new western style toilets. Among the western style toilets there are 3 different types: the one we know and have in Germany and then my favourite ones:
these toilets have a heated seat and a kind of console next to the toilet. There are buttons you can press and then your butt will be washed and dried automatically. You can adjust the water pressure and the water temperature and you can even press a button for extra deodorizing:-) If you wanna muffle your toilet sound there is an extra button to play music or imitating the flushing sound of the toilet (these sounds will cover your toilet noise:-). The sound volume of running water is adjustable too:-)
If you have the "Mercedez" under the toilets everything will be done automatically: you enter the toilet booth and the lid opens automatically. Then you can have your butt washed and tried, have the music sound and the heated toilet seat and at the end when you stand up the toilet flushes automatically and the lid closes...
toilet with console


the console doesn't necessarily need to be fixed on the toilet, it can also be put on the wall


Actually I could imagine to live in Japan for a while but unfortunately there are 2 things that still prevent me from living there:
1) the language:
I only speak a few words and the language is very difficult in my opinion. Sometimes Yuki had tried to teach me but it was even hard for me to repeat the sounds she made and I couldn't and still can't see any way how to memorize those words... At the beginning it was challenging but I got used to making myself understandble by gestures and waving around:-) But after a while you really feel the need to communicate with people by language and not only by gestures.
2) the working hours and vacation:
In my opinion people work too much and too long. Most people live in the suburbs because it is cheaper, more quiet and the air pollution isn't that bad. Therefor they need to commute every morning at least 1 hour. They work overtime almost every day (the overtime can't be used up) and when they come home they only have time for a dinner and then they go to bed. Usually people have about 10 days ( 2 weeks) off per year but they never take their 10 days off in a row (if they are lucky they can take 1 week off, the 2nd week will never be taken).

=> I guess I will continue living in Germany!:-)

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