Jason recruited a friend of ours to drive with us down to the airport and then bring our car back to Jason's office so we could park it there while we were immersing ourselves in culture. When we arrived at Jason's office, the guy who was supposed to give us a ride was "busy" on a phone call. So, luckily another guy had no problem giving up his lunch break to cart our family to the airport and back. Thanks, dude! Another lucky thing was that this certain gentleman had been to Kyoto before, well at least mainland. We booked our trip through Peach airlines and assumed that we would go to the domestic terminal to check in (like any other normal city), but to our dismay we had to go to bus stop 4 (so random). It is in the airport terminal, but if we had lugged all of our junk inside and then found out that we just had to go right back out again, I would have been a little peeved. So, everything happens for a reason and since the original man couldn't give us a ride, we had a leg up on the situation. He dropped us off right at bus stop 4 as the bus was pulling up! Woo hoo! It doesn't get better than that. So after a bus ride to a cargo terminal, yes a cargo terminal, we were dropped off in a warehouse looking building where there were lines and lines and lines of people with no signage as to which flights were checking into where. We got in one line and waited until we got up to the check-in kiosk only to realize that you can't check in early to your flight. We had to let several people ahead of us before our allowed check-in time came. All the while I am chasing Colton around the world's tiniest airport terminal trying to keep him occupied. After all the confusion of where do we stand and what time is it, we finally got our boarding passes. By the way, no one ever checked out IDs. We could have been traveling under any name and no one would have known. All we needed was to type in our names and our reservations were pulled up. Sketchy!
After a short delay we were ushered outside to walk onto our plane. Let me tell you, I thought Colton was thrilled about the bus ride to terminal. When he saw that we got to walk on the "flight line" he was elated.
Our flight was simple and easy. When we landed we knew we might run into a little hiccup. Our flight landed in Osaka so we needed to take a train to Kyoto. Its not just a little short train ride either. I think it was something like 2 and a half hours. So before getting off the plane we asked the stewardess about which plane to take and she said "Haruka." Well, when you read it, it doesn't seem as funny, but when she said it, it reminded me of when the cartoon characters in the older cartoons see a pretty lady walk by and their eyes pop out of their heads and they say, "Awoooooooga!" That's all I heard. It seemed a little silly until I saw it spelled out at the train station, then it wasn't nearly as fun.
Jason followed the little monitor where you buy the train tickets and assumed he had gotten it correctly. We went over to enter the area where you put your little ticket stub through, but were stopped by the train security people. After being sent back and forth to buy different things from the little monitors, eventually a fluent English speaker was called over. We had it way wrong and had almost missed the train by the time we got it all sorted out. We ran! We didn't even know where we were running. We were just asking people as we ran, "Haruka?" and pointing in the direction we were running. Somehow we made it as the train was just about to pull off.
So, this being our first time on a Japanese train, really any sort of train for myself, we get our seats and Jason goes to use the bathroom (big shocker). Well, I notice a Japanese man in a conductors-ish uniform coming down the train cars stamping and looking at everyone's tickets. Well, mine and Colton's are in Jason's pocket and he's still not back. What I'm thinking at this point: I don't speak Japanese. What am I going to tell this man? and He's totally gonna think I'm trying to just sneak my way on this train! Well the man enters our car, says what I assume is a little greeting and bows to all of us in this train car. There weren't many people and I was starting to get nervous. The man gets to me before Jason. He looks at me, puts out his hand and says, "Chicket!" and I say (in English), "My husband has my ticket, he's in the bathroom." Said man looks at me completely blankly (because he doesn't speak English - and why should he?) and says even louder, "Chicket!!!!" I was so nervous, if Jason hadn't entered the car at that exact moment I probably would have been in tears or laying out on the sidewalk. So he stamped our tickets and left us alone the duration of the trip. Phew! I feel like that was a close one. Colton made himself right at home. Which was good since it was 5pm and this kid hadn't taken a nap all day.
So we arrive in Kyoto Station. I had read a little about Kyoto Station as a tourist attraction, but had no real idea what we were in for. It was HUGE!!! And there were people everywhere. We had no idea where to go or what to do. All I know is somewhere along the way I realized that you had to have your ticket to put through another machine to exit the train terminal area and enter the vastness of stores and restaurants and bakeries. I didn't have my ticket. I left it on the train in the little seat back pocket. Oopsie! So we randomly picked one of these areas to exit and luckily I slipped by unnoticed. Phew. Another close call. We wandered around in this madness for what seemed like an hour before we thought to ask someone where the exit was.
Again, this picture does not do justice to the confusing signs or the amount of people that were hustling and bustling around. So when we found the exit we were lucky to have gotten out on the correct side of Kyoto Station because we were staying at an apartment that we had booked through AirBnB and couldn't exactly say, "Which way to the Ritz Carlton?" (Because that's how classy we are). So I pulled out my email from our agent and we began to navigate the streets of Kyoto. After wandering around in a few dark alleys at night we managed to find a few European looking people and asked them for the name of our apartment. Just so happens, its the same one they were staying in and we were right in front of it. How perfect! So we got onto the elevator and put our stuff down in our small (if I'm being honest, it was the size of my mom's living room) living quarters and decided we were starving and needed to find something to eat for dinner. Colton had just woken up from his late nap and was willing to go for a walk. We walked and walked and walked. Nothing suited for a child had seats available it seemed. So after much hesitation we came upon a Coco's Curry House. Now, this may seem like no big deal, but there is a Coco's Curry House about 10 minute walk from our house in Okinawa. It is all the rage around here for military members. So, it seemed a bit odd that after all this traveling and being so excited to do something new, here we sat, eating curry that we could have any day of the week. Oh well. Colton loves it and it filled our bellies. Plus, there was the cutest little Japanese couple sitting beside us and they were so excited to see Colton, you would have thought they were our long lost relatives. That always makes things a little more fun.
We finished our dinner and headed back up to our room to get settled in and try to get Colton to sleep. We had a full day ahead of us and wanted him to be in good spirits. When I began folding down the futon, Colton's bed, I realized that there were no sheets on it. I looked in the closet and found more comforters but no sheets. So, I figured if I layed 2 comforters down, if Colton wanted to, he could slide in between them and still not be sleeping on a dirty old futon. I also knew that if, on this first night, I just let him crawl in our bed that he would expect that every night after. When I went to open the bag that held the extra comforter I noticed there was a lock on the zipper. What?! So weird. So I called our agent and she told me the code and also told me not to take anything else from the closet. Duh! So finally, we were able to start bed time routine. This is when I realized I forgot to pack books to read at bedtime, so instead of doing what I made Grandma Kathy do and read magazines as bedtime stories, I decided to make them up. I'm sure Jason can vouch for this, they weren't good stories. Side note: I always figured I would be good at storytelling, turns out, not so much.
I think he finally fell asleep around 10 and slept until about 6:30. We got up, got dressed and ruffled around to see what we all had in our apartment. Colton served up the tea and we were out the door.