I’m writing this on my flight to Beijing. I’m glad I got a day layover in Tokyo. It gave me an opportunity to recall our year long voyage of to the United States from Russia in 1989, through Austria and Italy. Other immigrants, after 1990, had stepped on the plane in Moscow and disembarked in New York, receiving the full impact of the cultural transition at once, and at the same time the illusion of a seamless transition.
I had the same opportunity now, to prepare for the culture shock of Beijing, by getting a dose of culture shock in Tokyo.
As I rode the escalator to baggage exchange, I saw a couple that were on the same plane as me from LAX speaking Japanese. The guy made a long drawn out exhalation of relief inserting the English phrase, “Well, back to reality.” For me it was the other way around.
The first amusement was in the airport bathroom. I had expected the bidet — the buttocks washing contraption. But I didn’t realize they had thought of adding a button to electronically generate a masking sound for “embarassing bathroom noises.”