“Travelling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – IBN BATUTA
I started from Kolkata, India and boarded my flight to Narita, Japan with a layover in Beijing. My already troublesome start intensified after my flight got delayed due to bad weather conditions in Kolkata. This led to a chain of events that increased my 16 hours journey to 40 hours with the layover of over 20 hours at Beijing Central Airport (This experience deserves a separate blog for itself). After 40 hours of exhausting yet learning experience, I finally landed at Narita Airport at around 9:30 PM JST and cleared immigrations in next 20-25 mins. The shocking demographic of Japan that I read in articles and books came to reality. The majority of airport staff was dominated by men in their late forties. My first impression of Japan was extremely positive partly because of the facilities, cleanliness and politeness at the airport and partly because of my long layover at the ever crowded Beijing Airport with not so helpful staff and facilities. Since I reached Narita at night, I missed the last bus for Tsukuba. I still had the option to go to Tokyo by train and continue to Tsukuba by Tsukuba Express but I chose to spend the night at the airport and leave early next morning. Since I was in flight from Saturday night until late night Monday, I hadn’t yet watched the latest episode of GoT. Now that I had made up my mind to stay at the airport, I connected my computer to Narita WiFi network (which doesn’t require authentication BTW, take a note CCU) and started streaming latest episode of GoT through Hotstar. After finishing the episode, I crashed on one of these comfortable sleeper sofas and had a good night sleep.
Sleeper sofas at Narita Airport
Next morning, I woke up at around 7:00 AM and booked myself 7:35 AM direct bus to Tsukuba Center for ¥ 2000 (which is quite expensive) from ticket counter inside the Arrivals Hall. I was supposed to board the bus from station 10 just outside terminal 1. The bus arrived at 7:30 AM and left the airport at exactly 7:35 AM with just two passengers onboard (not kidding). The landscape on my way to Tsukuba was not much influenced by urbanization but one can easily find small but well-equipped paddy fields along the way. They have literally converted every possible plain land into paddy fields. Coming from a developing country like India and never been to any advanced country before, I was impressed to see these infrastructural advances in the fields and buildings. Soon after the bus left the airport, I felt asleep to wake up only a few minutes before my destination. The bus dropped us 10 minutes before its actual arrival time at Tsukuba Center (a rare occurrence in India). Since I reached early, my friend who was supposed to pick me up had not yet arrived. I was sitting on one of the benches beside the stop completely exhausted but the excitement of meeting new people and starting a short but new life at a new place soon overtook the exhaustion. While I was sinking into some random thoughts of humanity and life, I saw my friend who had come to pick me up, waving at me. We took a bus to the University of Tsukuba campus where I filled up the formal documents and had a brief introduction with my lab members. After having my first Indian meal in Japan (which BTW was nowhere close to Indian) I was dropped by my room for taking rest before I can start my work the next morning.