The Journey Home

Since I got back I sort of forgot about blog writing and all that, but suddenly at around 3:45am on Friday morning, the last day of my two-week isolation, I felt the impulse to write what’s happened so far. No Idea why. It was preventing me from sleeping though so I had to. This post will document the day I left Japan, until now.

Saying Goodbye

22/03/20

Rewind to the 21st of April, just under 3 weeks ago. I left Kakurinbo at around 11am. Junko insisted I take some photos with the others before I left. I’ll miss you guys.

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I took, for the last time, a completely empty bus from Minobusan to Minobu train station.

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I took the Minobu Line all the way into Kofu. Along the way I took so super posey photos. This is the one that looked the least cringe.

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Then at Kofu I switched trains to an express that took me all the way to Shinjuku. It was also empty. For the entire journey. I wasn’t expecting that.

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I spent the journey staring out the window listening to music, and playing a bit of Skyrim 🙂

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Oh, and the toilets were really nice. Japanese train travel never ceases to amaze me.

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Some shots I took as the train reached Tokyo.

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About half an hour from Shinjuku the train crossed a bridge and I noticed a huge group of photographers lined up on the side of the river pointing their cameras at the tracks I was on. Maybe they were waiting for something to come the other way? Probably train otaku of some sort. If anyone knows, this was on the Chuo line on 22/04/20.

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Some more pictures.

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I made it to Shinjuku and changed to the Marunouchi Line, then the Tozai Line to head to my hostel I’d booked for only about a tenner for the night. Bargain. It was a bit awkward carrying all my hiking/camping gear around on the metro. I got a few funny looks too. Eh, whatever.

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The plan was to meet up with Alessio again to retrieve all the stuff I bought when I was last at Tokyo.

I dumped my heavy backpack at the hostel (which was surprisingly busy) and took the train to my friends apartment where he was staying. We had a bit of a chat and decided to have dinner at coco’s down the road. It was going to be my last dinner in Japan so I couldn’t let it be onigiri and milk tea.

At the coco’s there was this Girls und Panzer promotion menu going on. There was a special menu decorated with the characters from the anime, with several dishes in the shape of tanks.

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They came with some bonus plastic wallets too.

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And Alessio apparently being a fan, had to order one.

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I settled for a hamburg steak. Which was incredibly delicious.

After that on the way back we decided to pop into a nearby game store to see what was on offer. Because, why not. I spotted Animal Crossing and couldn’t resist.

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I also remember dancing around on the pavement in excitement of the RTX 2080ti graphics card I’d just ordered with the surplus travel funds. God I’m such a nerd.

After that he walked with me to the train station. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Hope to see you soon Alessio 🙂

Just before going back to the hostel to sleep I popped into a Lawson to get some food to bring back for my Siblings at home. I bought my brother 6 cup noodles. I’d already bought some green tea powder for my sister in Selva before I left Minobu.

A Change of Scenery

23/04/20

I caught the Keikyū Airport line to Haneda. Here’s a shot I took going up the escalator to the airport.

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It was pretty empty, as expected. The check in ladies thankfully offered to wrap my rucksack that was going into check-in in a plastic bag because it had a gajillion straps dangling off it.

After a bit of faff in security I made it through. Apparently if I return to Japan within a year’s time I can continue my working holiday Visa. Might take the opportunity during Winter or next Easter 🤔

All the shops in the terminal were closed.

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Thankfully for some reason I got upgraded to premium economy class, so I got the option to go to the first class lounge. Not bad at all.

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There was only one other person in the huge lounge with me. And the number of waitresses/hosts that were catering for just us two was pretty intimidating. They all stood by the buffet in a huddle, waiting for one of us to ask them for anything. I asked them for a cup of tea. Thankfully they had english breakfast. But it came in a disappointingly shallow cup.

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The ramen I ordered, although also a tad on the small side, tasted amazing.

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After lounging about in the lounge for about 40 minutes I got my call to head to the gate. Just next to the gate there was another intimidatingly large crowd of air host/hostesses all furiously taking note of what was going on and scribbling in their note books.

The plane was a 787 dreamliner. Nice.

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When I found my place, the air host for the premium economy section walked up to me.

“Welcome, Mr. Vernon. Since you’re the only one in premium economy, feel free to use as many seats as you like”. I found it amusing he knew my name since I was the only person he had to cater for.

Here are some pics I snapped before taking off.

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I made full use of the seat next to me during the flight.

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Japan Airlines never fails to disappoint on food either.

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A bit of super mario galaxy 🙂

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It’s England, but not as I know it

I touched down on Thursday at Heathrow Airport at around 4pm. Around Heathrow were lots of coronavirus warning signs, and lots of markers telling you to keep your distance. A huge change from Japan.

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The next flight to Jersey was on Friday. In fact, the only flights to Jersey were on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, one per day, and only from Southampton Airport. Since Flybe collapsed while I was in Japan, Blue Islands took over and are now operating these emergency flights to keep the Island connected to the mainland. To book my ticket I had to go through some government verification process online to make sure that my reason for travel was urgent. Obviously since I live in Jersey, it was.

After heading out the airport I made my way to Southampton. It felt comforting to see the familiar green rolling hills I took for granted. As they say, there’s no place like home.

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Every hotel and inn around the airport was only open to essential workers. Thankfully Southampton University were kind enough to lend me a room in one of their halls to stay the night.

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Thanks Southampton 🙂

Since almost no shops were open, and I figured wandering around after just arriving from a foreign country was probably a bad idea, I decided to order some domino’s pizza in for dinner. So worth it.

24/04/20

I awoke the next morning to the sound of what looked like some of the universities cleaners having some sort of pep talk outside, all keeping their distance.

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I packed my things and took the bus from the university to the airport. On the bus were lots of coronavirus related signs.

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It still felt kind of surreal, coming back to all this.

I reached the airport. The only thing outside was a police car. And a few people. I’m guessing here for my flight.

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The inside was pretty barren too.

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Everyone inside the terminal also kept their distance.

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While queuing to enter the plane too.

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The flight lasted about 40 minutes. I always love seeing that “Welcome to Jersey” sign. It makes me happy.

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Just before reaching the baggage reclaim, some security made us queue up and fill in a form detailing some isolation stuff. It was legal requirement that we isolated ourselves for 14 days after returning to the island.

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I met my dad in the arrivals hall. He was wearing some rubber gloves, and we kept our distance from each other. When I got back home I had a little chat with my family. Still keeping my distance of course. It was good to see my them again. I was away for 2 months.

So that wraps up my journey home. It’s now 5am. I really need to sleep. I’ll do another post tomorrow outlining what I’ve done in the 2 weeks of isolation (hint – not a lot). Christ, my sleep schedule is f**ked.

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