It is about 11 p.m. on Monday 28 May (Japan time) as I write this — my first access to plug-in Internet access on the trip. At my first homestay (stay tuned), I could check my email, but the Japanese localization broke my ability to log into this blog.

Regardless, it is now halfway into our trip, but I would like to go back to the very beginning, in the interest of monotonicity.

We five valiant Urbana students departed, along with Kimiko, Bruce, and Elizabeth, from the Honors House at around 6:15 a.m. on Monday 21 May (Illinois time). Dragging a full suitcase through the streets at 5:45 in the morning on a deserted campus is a rather interesting experience.

In the (rental) car, the radio was broken, so we were permitted to experience the joys of the mind of Michelson. Bruce kept us full of (perhaps sometimes useless) trivia about Illinois and Mark Twain for the entire ride, which was only a little bit cramped.

We met up with the rest of the group at O’Hare (at least an hour earlier than necessary), so we took a break just before the security checkpoint and got some lunch (or perhaps I should say, “second breakfast'’. . .). At the gate, we students had some fun playing an eleven-member game of Uno on the floor for another hour, whereupon we needed to abort the game and enplane. We were riding a double-decker 747, on the upper level (which is quite far above the ground). I’m not sure if this is a feature of the plane or of Japan Air Lines (JAL), but there are some extra storage bins between the window seat and the bulkhead — gives a bit of (much needed) leg room by storing books and water.

On the plane, we had lunch, tea, and dinner, amongst much synchronized sleeping and “aisle parties'’ — it seems that JAL does not see the same security risk as the american carriers of groups of people “congregating in the aisles.'’ There were many snacks and drinks along the way (I haven’t had real, solid, airline food for quite some time), but it was still a long flight — I completely re-read Neal Stephenson’s

    The Big U

(Bruce, are you reading? This means you!) and had some time to spare for study of Japanese sentence strcture between naps.

The flight brought us over the International Date Line, so we got into Tokyo Narita International Airport in the afternoon of 22 May (Japan time), and had a spot of sustenance (second dinner?) at the hotel restaurant before crashing.

Speaking of crashing, there’s an early morn ahead of us before Rokkakudo garden and another busy day, so I shall sign off and continue this discourse on the morrow.

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