Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Pinoy in Tokyo: Haneda International Airport

Although I was still about 14 kilometers away from my friends Glen, Arlene and their little Saira, who were waiting for me at the airport bus drop-off at ANA InterContinental Tokyo Hotel, I wasn't worried since I knew everything at Haneda Airport would be convenient, easy and wouldn't get lost in translation once I get off the plane. 
Haneda International Airport is the closest airport to the Tokyo center, and most practical point of entry for me into Japan.
And as expected, the queue at the immigration took a while. Lots of Japanese tourists flying back to Japan, and more Korean tourists going there. Plus a Pinoy completing the mix. Ha-ha-ha!
And to continue my tradition of practicing a foreign language at the immigration counters, I greeted the Japanese immigration officer with my low, quick and almost perfect Nihongo, even my teacher at the Japanese class would be proud of: "Ohayo gozaimasu!" (Ha-ha-ha!)
I stood there as I watch him scan, browse and enjoy the feel of my Philippine passport. At that moment, I thought to myself that I might have let more strangers read my passport than I have let doctors read my medical charts.  

Immigration officers will tell you if you can enter or leave their country. Doctors will tell you if you can live or...die. Ha-ha-ha!

And after he was satisfied that I was no threat to the constitutional monarchy of Japan, he gave me back my precious and loyal travel companion, and waived me through. I, of course, followed up with another impeccable sentence, "Arigato gozai-masu!" (Ha-ha-ha!)

And I think he uttered, "Hai".
So, off I went to claim my luggage, cleared Customs and looked for the nearest information counter.
I was glad nothing got lost in translation at the counter. The ladies were polite and lavish with their hard-to-understand English phrases. But I understood just the same. I didn't bother to practice more of my Nihongo on them. Two perfect sentences were enough that morning. Ha-ha-ha!
They pointed me to the free shuttle bus waiting outside, which brought passengers to the main terminal where passengers could take the airport-to-city buses. 
I finally was on the way to the Tokyo city proper. As I expected, passing through this airport was convenient, easy, and nothing, including luggage, was lost in transit, nor in translation.

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