I made it. 25 hours door-to-door. Uggh!
The flight was uneventful. I got moved to an exit row so I had leg room the whole time, which is key on a 14 hour flight. I was offered a standby upgrade which I almost took. The deal was I had to give up my economy seat on the flight I was booked on in exchange for the chance to fly first class that day. However, if the plane ended up filling up I would have to wait a day in Detroit and fly out he next day, guaranteed a seat in first class. I thought about it, but really just wanted to get Japan. Then a friend also reminded me that Detroit is a bitch of an airport to get out of to begin with and that a killer snowstorm was about to hit the Midwest, so I ended up declining.
I slept most of the flight. They showed five movies, but I had no interest in Lassie, The Lake House, Super Ex-Girlfriend or whatever other two winners they showed. Only had one meal, chicken in BBQ cream sauce, which wasn’t worth waking up for.
Immigration, baggage claim and customs in Osaka were a breeze this year. I didn't get asked one single question, they just waved me through. Took a bus from the airport to Kobe where Mutsumi met me. Reunited and it feels so good!
My mother-in-law seemed happy to see me. She always makes the same joke about me looking like I’ve lost weight, where Mutsumi then chimes in that she should stop being nice to me and my fat ass. She liked the chocolates and Zabars’s coffee I brought for her.
I was starving, so after a quick shower, we headed out to my favorite restaurant, Aidoru, which is where I’d have my last meal before I died if I had a choice. I’ve been going to this place for the last 15 years and know the mother and daughter that run it very well. They were excited to see me as it’d been about a year since my last visit. They love the fact that they can tell other customers that they’re so popular they have customers who come all the way from New York just to eat at their shop. It’s a small okonomiyaki place, which some people call Japanese pancakes, but basically it’s a big open grill where they cook up meats and noodles and all kinds of different foods. Only about 10 people can fit in the joint and you all sit around the counter and talk as you eat. I ordered my usual favorites: grilled octopus and squid legs in garlic and oil, peppered chicken wings, pork with kimchi, fried chicken gizzards, a sinew omelette, beef ribs in spicy sauce, yakisoba, grilled sliced garlic in butter, and of course, three ice cold Kirin drafts in these huge frosted mugs. Pics soon…
My brother and sister-in-law stopped by to say hello and it was nice to see them. My brother-in-law just got promoted and transferred, so he’s up in Ibaragi near Tokyo now but home for the holidays. He bought a nice, new BMW SUV which he was proud to show off. Then we went home, unpacked, checked my e-mail and crashed. It’s now 5:15AM and I can't sleep.
So that’s my first update. Could I be any more boring?