My flight out the next morning was not super early, which gave me time to find a Starbucks café for some breakfast. I was not feeling 100%, so I was really grateful that Past Jodi had thought to put me on a later flight. I made it to the airport with only minimal confusion (and getting off the train at the wrong time when I should have waited), but I made it all the same. From there I checked my back at the self-service machines. For those of you who have never had the fun of using the self-service baggage machines at Haneda, I should explain. First, you put your suitcase in this little cubby. Then you go through the normal questions on the screen next to the cubby:
No, nothing will blow up.
No, nothing is too sharp.
No, I did not pack my dog.
Or whatever. After that, the machine prints out your baggage tag and you secure it on the handle. You don’t even have to remove a sticker backing on the tags or anything! They are just sticky in the right part, eliminating that sticker backing that lives in your pocket until you remember it’s there and see a trashcan. Then a mesh door descends and seals your luggage into the cubby. The machine weighs the bag. Then, if it finds the bag acceptable, the back wall of the cubby surprises you and turns into a door. Not only that, but it’s also actually a conveyor belt or something and your bag is whisked away. The machine prints a small baggage claim ticket and you are on your way. Pair that with automatic check-in and you don’t have to interact with another human until security.
Before going through security, though, I headed upstairs to a small café I visited with Aunt Marty during her visit. I had a filling lunch and managed to eat by myself without feeling the need to stare at my phone the whole time. Then, as I went to leave, I had a small moment of panic. Where is my suitcase?! This is what happens if you are used to traveling with only carry-on luggage. After a moment of laughing at myself for what just happened, I was off to security.
Once through the security check-point, I went in search of my gate since there isn’t much else to do past security in a Japanese airport. I am not sure why, but Japanese airports have always confused me a bit. Most of the restaurants and shops are outside of security. However, there is almost no extra seating outside of security. Past security, there is plenty of seating, but not much else. Typically, you’ll find an ANA Café with one remaining bento that no one else wanted to buy, ice cream, and gum. If you’re really lucky, there might be a tiny Starbucks somewhere. In the end, you can’t do much but find yourself an outlet, set up your electronic entertainment of choice, and pretend the rest of the airport does not exist.
As the plane’s boarding time approached, I started to notice more and more familiar faces at the gate with me. Apparently, that was the weekend that all Hyuga-ites made their pilgrimages to Tokyo. I even ran into a friend who I had not seen in a while. We ended up hanging out at one of the cafes in the Miyazaki Airport while we waited for our trains. By the time, I made it home it was a little past 7, which left me just enough time to unpack and shower. I try to unpack as soon as I get home, even if I would rather go straight to sleep or shower. I have found that if I don’t unpack immediately (even if it’s just a day or two later), it can take months for me to unpack completely. So far, the method works for me. I hope I can keep it up in the future.