I have to tell you about my entry into Japan, which may possibly be one of the most humiliating events of my life so far. Humiliating, but also educational, because I ended up learning a new Japanese word out of the experience. Unfortunately, that Japanese word happened to be 'norimonoyoi' 乗り物酔い. Motion sickness.
It all began on the plane, as we circled a few times before descending into Narita. The contents of my stomach (chunky chicken casserole, cheers Air New Zealand) started to slosh around ominously, and I broke into a cold sweat. I gritted my teeth and hoped it wouldn't be too much longer until we landed. We broke through the clouds, and Tokyo greeted us with a cold, rainy and grey day. About the same colour grey as that chicken I'd eaten.
I thought it would all be ok once my feet were firmly on solid land again, but clearly I'd underestimated Narita Airport. Because there's not really any point in which you aren't moving. You have to get a mini train from the arrivals terminal to customs. Then you have to go along what feels like kilometres of moving walkways. Then there are the normal escalators that lead to the train station. And then, of course, you have to get on a train to get from Narita to Tokyo.
We got on a JR train bound for Nippori, going by the advice of one of the Narita station staff. We were too tired and overwhelmed to question it, so we just grabbed a ticket and hopped on the first train we saw. My advice to all Tokyo first-timers would be, take one of the N'EX Narita Expresses. A bit more expensive than the normal trains, but the service is direct, easy to use, and you're guaranteed a seat.
When you're feeling sick as a dog, the last thing you feel like doing is standing on a crowded, high-speed train, trying to balance your hand luggage and 20kg suitcase in one hand, and clutching the hand ring for dear life with the other. Oh, and doing all this for about 2 hours.
I begin to panic. I begin to pray to God, 'please do not let me vomit on this train in front of these salarymen'. I begin to plan exit strategies in my mind, what if I just get off at the next station? I don't care where I end up as long as there is some sort of vomit-receiving vessel there. I completely forget about Ryan.
But finally, about an hour and a half after leaving Narita, Nippori station is announced. I cannot believe it. I have made it. I have survived the journey. The train doors open, and we hoist our luggage out onto the platform. 'Are you ok?' Ryan asks.
It is at this point that I dramatically fall to my knees in the middle of the platform, like some sort of Christ figure, and empty my guts into a paper bag. At the exact same time, a train pulls in, and about a thousand Japanese passengers peer suspiciously at me, the spewing blonde gaijin freak.
I would also like to mention, to conclude my story, that it is really hard to find rubbish bins at train stations. Carrying around a paper bag overflowing with spew is not ideal. And then when you do find a bin, thanks to a meticulous recycling system you have to decide what category of waste it goes under. I picked 'Other'.
But no fear, a quick trip to the drug store and I have gotten myself some tablets to prevent this from happening again. Norimonoyoi, you bastard of a thing.