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Thread: It was 23 years ago today my flight landed at Narita.....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan

    It was 23 years ago today my flight landed at Narita.....

    At 3PM on August 16th 1990 my flight landed at Narita airport outside of Tokyo. I had a plan to come to Tokyo and study Aikido at the World Headquarters for six months, then go back to Canada.

    I took the Airport Limousine Bus to Ikebukuro, and waited in a train station for about 3 hours until I could meet up with a friend when they got off work. This was back before the days of cell phones or the internet, I had arranged to meet said friend via letters, actually written by hand on paper, stuffed into envelopes and then mailed My friend told me where in the station we would meet but I'd have to wait until they finished work. The station was vast, and complex, but I eventually found the meeting place and then sat down on my duffle bag. I had a three hour wait, I had used up most of my Japanese money and did not know where to get any money exchanged. I spoke about four words of Japanese. During the wait I drank a couple of cold drinks from a vending machine and read a book. I got hassled by the cops once but left alone after that. When my friend showed up, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see someone before in my life. I had taken a real milk run of a flight, Vancouver to Seattle, change planes, Seattle to Los Angeles, change planes, LA to Hawaii, sit on plane on tarmac for a few hours, not allowed to disembark, then Hawaii to Korea, then Korea to Tokyo, or I should say to Narita. By the time my friend showed up, I had been traveling for well over 24 hours.

    I stayed with said friend for a few days until I could hook up with a Canadian guy that was also practicing Aikido. No one had a phone at home, it was very expensive to have a landline in your apartment back then, so I could not phone him, again this meet-up was arranged via international post. I was to meet him at a McDonalds next to Shin-Okubo station at a specific time, we would then go together to the Dojo and he would help me sign up and introduce me, as well as show me around the dojo. Eventually I got an apartment that was very close to the dojo, it was a 4.5 mat room, that is about 9'x 9', with a small closet, the cooking area was just big enough for a sink and a hot plate, it also served as the entranceway into my little aparto. The toilet was down the hall, and there was no bath or shower, you used the public bath house. No AC only a fan, and no really good heat in the winter, you sweated out the summer and froze in the winters, yes it does not get that cold here, but the walls have zero insulation and neither do the roofs, so the moment you turn off your heater, the room gets cold!

    My how my life has changed in the 23 years since then. I'm glad to be here and hope to be around at least another 23 years.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Thanks for sharing Stu and congrats on the milestone.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Very interesting Stu! I hope you will fill us in some more how everything started for you over in Japan, especially how you met your wife. I think it is interesting to hear about the plans people had about their lives and how some chance encounter or event total changed everything.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    You've had quite a journey Stu, have enjoyed hearing the stories about them as well.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    And how did the Akido turn out? Inquiring minds want to know!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  6. #6
    It took a lot of courage to do that Stu! You were searching for something in your life and I suspect you found it!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Great story, Stu. Amazing the twists and turns life throws at us, huh? The same year you moved to Japan, I moved from NM to Los Angeles. A lot has happened to both of us since then.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    After 23 years you haven't saved up enough for a return ticket yet

    Sounds fate and hard work have out well for you Stu, Congrats
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    North of Reno, NV...middle of the desert
    They should make a series...the Chronicles of Stu...such an adventure

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    S E Washington State
    I think I could be happy in Japan, except for the fact you can't easily get the many things I want or need like you can here in the States. People here do not often realize that about other countries, they seem to have forgotten how fortunate we are. We seem to have become a bunch of ungrateful, give me, give me slobs.... oh, oh, I'm in trouble now...

    Enjoy reading about your adventures..
    "We the People ......"

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