京都 2005.03.20 () - Arrival

Got a ride to the airport from Mom. No real problems checking in. My plane to Vancouver was a turbo-prop 8, so it left from the end of terminal E, where you go outside and across a bit of tarmac to get onto your plane.

Went through a very quick customs check in Vancouver. Got lunch and talked to someone from Canada who was going to visit her daughter. The plane to 大阪 was late, but not too significantly.

The plane across the Pacific went up the coast a ways, so you could see mountains out the window a surprising length after take off. Justin's seat had been filled by a 日本人 coming back from an English school in Canada. She's a nurse, who is training to become a certified mid-wife. With some written notes and my electronic dictionary, we worked out some sort of conversation... interesting confusions:

During meals on the plane, they would hand out hot towels beforehand. I watched what other people did to learn what I was supposed to do... namely, wipe your hands. This was very useful to know in Japan.

Arrived in 大阪 and followed the crowd. You take a train from your terminal to the main building, where you go through immigration and customs. Took my time to pass a tourism counter and find the やさか taxi booth. No problem booking a ride to 京都; having the printed maps was a great help.

The trip on the highways was interesting. It took just a little bit to get used to the driver sitting on the right side in the van I was in, but it was still startling to look out at other cars and see someone in the left seat reading a paper or whatever. More so for cars coming around corners and similar: ``OH MY GO-- oh, right.''

Highways in Japan are tolled a lot, so there are a large number of toll gates. Some of these are strictly people-ran; the common commuters have some sort of system worked out where they pull up, hand over a ticket while barely stopping, and get waved through. Most gates, however, have automatic lanes -- you get within the queue for the gate, and it electronically senses some tag they have, and the gate beeps and opens. Now, when using one of these "ETS" gates, they drivers do slow down -- but not much. If that gate ever fails to come up automatically, they're going to drive right through it.

Lots of flashy lights as we drove past 大阪 and then later into 京都. Got dropped off at the guesthouse, and the van driver made sure it was the right place before leaving. I met えいじ, who showed me around the guesthouse. I think I got dinner and then went to bed, but I don't really recall -- I was pretty tired by that point.