Mom’s flight got in around 4pm, Ben and I were going to meet her at Nippori station at 6pm (it’s an hour train ride from the train station, and we figured it would take a while for her to get to the train station after landing). The plan was to meet her at the transfer gate from Skyliner, to the JR station line. We had sent her a map before she left, and had chosen Nippori station because it has very few exits, and is a very small station. We thought this would give us a fool proof plan, we did not however account for the confusion that follows 24 hours of no sleep.
Ben and I got to the station at 5:50, and waited at the largest exit, the one with a giant signs over it, with a huge Welcome sign written in half a dozen languages on it. A dozen other people were waiting in the same spot hoping to see loved ones and friends, and large groups of people flooded out of that gate to greet the friends they had been missing. It was the one exit you had to walk past to get to all the other exits, so when I got a call at 6:20 from my mom on a kind strangers cell phone, I was really quite amused that she hadn’t found us.
Mom had found herself at the small gate, and the one and only gate that was not visible to us from our vantage point. She had been quite sly, and I really think that she did it on purpose to test the true nature of the Japanese. Mom was not disappointed, and after we found her, she told us how nice and helpful everyone had been. One of the station workers was holding on to her bags, and had apparently been trying to best to help a lost woman who did not speak a word of Japanese. Ben and I thanked the man profusely, and began our journey to food, and home.
It might sound like I am belittling my mom, but in all honesty, she had made it to the right station and found us relatively quickly. For any of you who have not done the flight from Colorado to Japan, it is a 24 hour time commitment. Ben and I did much, much worse, and made many more mistakes on our arrival in Japan, and we had the advantage of 2 people, one of which speaks Japanese.
Our trip home meant a transfer in Shinjuku Station (the worlds busiest station), and then 3 transfers after that. We decided to eat dinner in Shinjuku at Ben and my favorite dumpling place. I wanted to show my mom Shinjuku because it is busy, chaotic, and a great representation of Tokyo (it was also on the way home). It was great hearing my mom’s comments as we walked through the area, it reminded me of how strange Japan seamed when I first got here. It also showed me all the rules of society that I now follow without any thought, but had difficulty with when I first arrived. You stand on the left side of an escalator, and walk on the right. You stand to the sides of the train doors when the train arrives to let people off, and then once they have exited you get on. They all come naturally to me now, but I know that I messed up when I first arrived as well.
I was so excited to see my mom. The hardest thing about moving to Japan has been how much I miss my family and friends. It was weird because mom had stepped into my world. I am used to the role of mom as teacher, mom as guide, so to reverse the roles felt very strange, my mom still seems unfazed by this, and doesn’t seem bothered by letting Ben and I be the expert, but it is a very strange feeling as a daughter.