It has been an extremely long and tiring day of travel for us, considering we left Williamstown at 4:55 AM and rode a total of three (!) planes and three vehicles (including the airport shuttle) to arrive in Kyoto. In terms of flying, we found ourselves in Albany, Newark, Tokyo, and Osaka; in terms of driving, we sat in cars that drove us the hour or so to both the airport in Albany and the hostel in Kyoto. I, for one, am sore from sitting and staring at various screens for hours — as I type this, my fingers move across the keyboard languidly, jelly-like in movement.
Exhaustion is inevitable on long trips like this, and I am fortunate that United Airlines and the people with whom I traveled made it far less taxing. The former provided us a state of relative comfort (at least, one that an economy-priced seat can afford), replete with food, water, and several TV series. My seatmates (everyone except for Si Hou and Professor Kagaya, both of whom were seated in different rows) made the long haul bearable and (dare I say) fun. I hope the hours spent cramped in planes—playing Battleship games, engaging in sleep-deprived conversations, and staring out the window, among other activities—are a preview of the fun to come.
I was unable to sleep on the 14-hour ride from Newark to Narita (possibly due to a mix of anxiety, discomfort, and an interest in rewatching the entirety of Big Little Lies. Upon landing in Japan, I was overcome with exhaustion and ended up asleep for most of the intra-Japan, pre-Kyoto travel, which provided me with the fuel to eat dinner at Musashi Sushi, a conveyor sushi restaurant in the city’s center. It was a great introduction to the myriad of food and drink options found in this city. Later on in the night, we met Sachi-san, the kind woman who was instrumental in this trip’s fruition.
I am looking forward to the days following our arrival in Japan with nervousness and excitement. Though jet lag might wreak havoc on my sleeping schedule, I am ready for the myriad of activities planned for us, beginning with a visit to a Zen Buddhist temple. This first event, in which we will be given a koan or riddle to contemplate, will be a calming introduction and transition into Japanese culture.