The Kimochi Warui Diary
Several months later, my brother and I were landing in Tokyo’s Haneda airport. From my seat at the window, all I could see was the airport. I was eager to bust out of this glass and concrete airport and into the mystical land of Japan.
“Get me the hell out of this plane,” my brother said.
He’s 6’3” and wasn’t doing well in coach seating for the last 11 hours. Not only is he tall, but he’s got a blunt, “no bullshit” kind of demeanor. Back home, he’s an LA City firefighter.
In life, he chose the jock route; I chose the academic route. When we actually work together, we form a nice team:
He’s the big strong guy who breaks through solid walls, and I’m the one thinking of how the broken pieces of wall will affect whatever’s on the other side.
Since I don’t want all this getting back to him, let’s go ahead and call my brother “Jotaro” from now on.
After getting off the plane, we were heading toward our first trial:
The line through customs.
A quick flash of our passports should be enough to get us through the gates!
A few minutes later, we were already at the front of the line. A round-faced Japanese woman in uniform pulled out a pink card, a pen, and got ready to dictate.
“How long you staying?”
“Until the 28th,” I replied.
“And the address where you staying?”
Nonsense! For this trip, we were doing things on the fly. After all, Jotaro had been on multiple camping trips in the mountains with only the bare minimum of supplies. That’s why he agreed when I said we should keep things simple:
We only carry what will fit in our backpacks!
The only exception of course, were our sleeping bags, which were strapped on top—just in case circumstances forced us to camp out somewhere less-than-conventional.
“I don’t have an address for that!” I said proudly.
But after I said it, I felt a chill. A cold and oppressive aura gathered behind the back of my head. It was the same feeling you’d get if a large, carnivorous animal just stood up on its hind legs behind you in a dark forest.
I turned around slowly to see Jotaro glaring down at me. The bill of his “fire station” baseball cap created a dark shadow over his eyes—the only light shining from that darkness came purely from his intense glare.
“What do you mean there’s no address?”
Behind me: death.
In front: a genuinely concerned customs officer.
“How about I write down that address?” I said, taking the card and pen from her.
I wrote out Noah’s full name.
I wrote “Tokyo” as his home address.
I didn’t know anything else.
I handed the slip back to the customs officer. She looked down at the slip, then up at me and Jotaro, and then at our passports.
Were we about to get sent back home?
Just some months ago, a famous K-pop group was denied entrance into the United States. They had to take their plane all the way back to Korea, just hours after they’d arrived.
The customs officer looked up at us one more time.
“Ok, go ahead.”
I held my breath as we walked out of customs. Then, when we were outside the gate and faraway from customs, I spun around to face Jotaro.
“See?” I said. I emulated the sparkling grin I’d seen used by smug anime characters. “Everything works out perfectly fine when it comes to us. That’s just the kind of luck we have!”
Jotaro’s facial expression was unchanged, but now, a deathly purple aura emanated from behind his body.
“You need to find us a hotel.”
It was already getting dark outside. Indeed, finding a hotel was top priority.
I looked around the airport and, across the lobby, saw several maps and brochures on the wall. I grabbed a handful and began poring over them.
I soon realized that all the hotels in these brochures were way out of our league. After all, these were promotional materials, not actual guidebooks. Our situation was becoming bleak.
I got it! If I was ever going to have any chance of finding a hotel in a pinch, there’d be no place better than the internet.
I whipped out my phone and connected to the first unlocked WiFi channel. It then forced me onto a browser—a normal formality for free WiFi zones. Except, this WiFi zone’s registration page had a big banner on it:
…This isn’t free!!!
“You find something yet?” Jotaro asked.
I couldn’t bear to meet his gaze.
But just then, two middle-aged, slender Japanese men approached us. Had they come to save me from the wrath of Jotaro?
They were wearing plaid, short sleeves shirts. One red, one blue.
“Excuse us…” Blue Shirt said. “We see you are lost?”
This must be it! The friendly Japanese citizen that is infamous throughout the rest of the world! The kind that will chase you down to return your wallet! The kind that will find you a hotel at the very last minute!
Looks like we’ve been saved after all. Tsk, tsk. Our luck just doesn’t run out, eh?
Red Shirt then said, “We are… How you say in English…”
And Blue Shirt finished his sentence: “Plain clothes police officers.”