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November 9 Narita

Last morning - Ningyo-cho, the aerodrome and home

Had breakfast in a fast-food type place which advertised three morning-meal-specials in its window-posters. I got the mid-priced version, the one without the nato (which is an especially vile form of fermented soy beans, and a curiously popular side-dish).

Dashed around looking for last minute buys: at a nearby shrine, nixed the purchase of a Shichifukujin* totem 'cause they seemed too fragile and expensive; instead bought a jolly green dragon which has a clapper and a string for hanging; it may be furin bell variation. I was now in that challenging, terminal phase of a foreign trip where surplus, exchanged currency needs to be spent, but some funds are required as reserves - a final pre-flight meal may be required, and unknown souvenir delights could appear at the last moment. The trick is to wind up with as few (unconvertible) coins and as many higher-denomination bills as possible, either for exchange back to dollars or to be used next time.

Finally, regretfully, I descended into the subway system and rode over to Ueno, where I retraced ny steps back to the Keisei station for the tediously long and always sorrowful trip out to the Narita aerodrome. Must I leave? Yes, I'm tired of it all, and want to go home... but still...

At the airport, lunch upstairs, where there's many restaurants to choose from and shops to browse. I had a tasty meal, forget just what of - it was the day's Japanese special in a place which also served Western dishes. Observed with amusement another solo diner at the table next to mine. There sat an obvious American, a fat and nerdy guy exuding attitude - he glared around with hostility, and had disdained the chopsticks - instead, he was using silverware, couldn't wait to get back to his country! Traveling on business, no doubt. His kind shouldn't be allowed to go, in my opinion - no doubt he was the most qualified to make the trip; but I imagine there was somebody else in his office that would've loved to go - somebody who knew their way around the sushi counter; a dreamy reader who'd done not only Memoirs of a Geisha but also Shogun, perhaps even some Mishima; someone who could maybe even fold an origami tsuru crane - they should've gotten the ticket, not the over-achiever interested only in racking up frequent flyer miles and a quick escape-vacation from his irritating, unsatisfactory home life. Anyway...

I sneered at the guy and left, to cruise the gift shops. Found a better style of the seven lucky gods - mine are perched on a little rounded disk of blue glass (shaped like a good skipping stone) and it was cheaper than the version I saw at the shrine-shop, where they were lined up on a strip of wood.

Time's up, into the security zone. Not bad, not intrusive; and this part of the airport's been remodeled - very elegant and comfortable. Sony had a PlayStation zone set up in the waiting area near my gate, with units set into a big irregular metal ovoid - the sign asked me to sign in but I ignored that and grabbed a set of controls, but unfortunately somebody else was there - a bratty, precocious, unchaperoned kid who pounced on me, seeking attention - said he spoke English and Korean, and he knew all about the available games - got in my way, spoiled my play, wanted to show me how to do it - my controls started vibrating and he said "See! I killed you!" I cursed him and split, to sit in a chair outside and read, awaiting the boarding announcement.

On the plane, dozed a little - was able to move away from the baritoned motormouth across the aisle, and stretched out in a row of seats. Perhaps he influenced the dream I had, since I was able to sleep, briefly: at the gym, one of the workers insisted on turning up the (bad) music. And the system's capacity was way beyond the usual, arena-loud, and nobody seemed to care, or even notice. Real hell. The flying itself wasn't bad, though; the hours and miles ticked away, and gradually I drew near home, finally to arrive, where all was well. Until next time, Sayonara!


* These are the seven lucky gods - if you're curious, read more about them in the glossary (where I name them and list their attributes) and at this site, where there's a picture.

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