Air travel involves funny math. Left our driveway 4:30 am Friday morning, arrived at Ishinomaki Main Station 10:15 Saturday night, equals 26 hours in transit. But on the longest leg--Korean Air 002 from LAX to Narita/Tokyo--we chased the sun, leaving LAX at noon local time and arriving Narita at 4:15 local time, so the sun only advanced four hours on us. But of course there's the international date line, so at the end, with two airplane legs, two train legs, and a bus ride, I pretty well used up Friday and Saturday travelling.
Highlights: (Leaving LAX) You forget how broad and desolate the California coastal range is. Halfway between LA and SF the brown hills turn to green. Then as we turn west to leave the California coast behind, white specks in the water, as far as I could see. As I watch them from 30 thousand feet for 30 minutes I see a pattern: they appear bright white, then fade over the next ten seconds. Are they whales? But how could there be so many? I must have watched 10 thousand in that short time!
An odd illusion in the Airbus 330 when they make us close the window shades 3 hours into the flight. You look across the seven rows of seats and can almost forget you're in a tin can hurtling through the freezing atmosphere at an ungodly 500 miles an hour.
Finally we approach the coast of Japan and raise the window shades. We cross the coastline at the tip of Chiba and then a couple of minutes later abruptly turn North. The clouds are reflected in the newly flooded rice fields. I give up on understanding much in the flight attendant's announcements in Japanese; but a few minutes later I'm practicing a couple of memorized lines, no doubt dazzling the immigration guy.
Later, leaving Tokyo Ueno Station (I wish I could describe the sea of people crossing the street at the station--how could so many people be at the same place at the same time?) on the shinkansen (bullet train), I see a vague familiar silhouette to the southwest.
Finally waiting for Chad in the chill breeze at the Ishinomaki Station, five policemen are arguing with a grumpy drunk who just wants to curl up on the sidewalk and sleep. It's a little hard to take the young policemen seriously--bright blue uniforms with bright yellow criss-cross suspender sashes, but one of them asks where I'm staying for the night, so I appreciate that. And I'm back in Japan almost as if I'd never left.