Special Insert – Japan Travel Day 1

Two days at Offroad Expo in Pomona, the second of which was spent curing a hangover I earned on my birthday.  By Sunday night, I was worthless, crawled in to bed around 5:00 pm and crawled out again at 5 am.  We are going to Japan today, and there are just a few things I need to get done before we go.

Flight was at 12:20 p.m. and it was a long one, first to Seoul, Korea, then to OsakaJapan plane-Kansai.  It was a great flight, lots of room on Asiana Airlines, and they fed us all day long.

First, we had lunch.  Almost immediately after take-off, they served beef or ??  I opted for ??  It was a Korean bowl, rice, vegetables, some beef, red pepper paste and rice.  They added Kim-chi and soup to round it off.  It was delicious, even if I wasn’t familiar with all the flavors.

Next was grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and then at the end of the flight, they fed us again, a delicious chicken dish with huge mushrooms, gravy and more rice.  The flight was super comfortable, I was impressed.  We finally arrived in Osaka about 9:00 pm Japan time.

Next stop was the car rental agency, they had the cars lined up outside, we pointed and smiled “I bet that one’s ours.”  It was tiny.  Sure enough, a quick stint of paperwork and the petite little Japanese girl led us out there.  It took me a minute to realize I had to get in on the other side, it is right hand drive.  Rich got in and the Japanese girl knelt in the seat beside him to show him how to use the GPS. Yes, it looks like a clown car, yes, we are too big for it.

GPS engaged, we took off for the hotel that Naozumi Tsuda had arranged for us; 60+km down the road, I couldn’t tell you what direction.  It seemed to take forever to get out of the city.  And then, our first challenge hit.  A toll plaza.  We hadn’t yet picked up any yen because Naozumi was meeting us at our hotel with yen.  The lane we pulled up in was the wrong one.  We gave the universal sign for I don’t know.  Raised palms, shrugged shoulders and a smile.  The attendant figured it out and sent us on our way.  Next toll plaza, we again picked the wrong lane.  Complete language barrier, the attendant just sent us through.  Third one, we did it again.  Attendant says “creditcardo” Oh, yeah, we’ve got one of those, he swiped it and we went on our way.  From then on, we looked for the green lanes and just handed over our card, worked like a charm.

The only disarming part is the ETC machine in the car starts yelling at us in Japanese whenever we get close to a toll plaza, between that and the GPS girl giving turn by turn instructions, that is a lot of noise in our little itty bitty clown car.  We are driving a Nissan Kix, right hand drive and with three fat Americans in it, they are going to have to replace the shocks when we get done.  Add to that heading out in to the mountain country and we are really wearing on the engine, it isn’t great on acceleration, the three cylinders are getting a work out.

Naozumi met us at the Hatagoya Inn, I still don’t know what town we are in, but the beds are super comfortable and the pillows are buckwheat.  The toilet has more controls than I’ve ever seen and the shower was hot.  Loving life today!



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