The plane ride was a 13 hour direct flight from Pearson Airport in Toronto to Narita Airport just outside of Tokyo. We travelled west across Canada and I was really thankful I had a window seat because the views outside were absolutely stunning. It’s hard to grasp the absolute vastness of the Canadian expanse but seeing the endless untouched plains, forests and mountains of Canada for hours out the window was an experience unto itself. Canada is 26x larger than all of Japan and numbers like that don’t really make sense even if you put them in a context. They make even less sense when you’re looking out the window from 30,000 feet above sea level and you realize how small we really are and how big the world is.
Anyways, eventually the sun got too bright to stare out the window, so I pulled down the shade and looked for something else to do. My seatmate Rb and I began chatting about a great many things, from hobbies, to life experiences, to thoughts about Japan. I was quite glad I didn’t get placed next to a weirdo or worse, a non-JET.
However eventually I got a bit restless, and even though there was a plethora of in-flight entertainment available, I decided I would make better use of the plane time by walking around and talking to people. So I climbed over my two seatmates (the first of many times) and wandered down the aisle looking for familiar faces.
The plane was divided into three sections and the JETs seemed to be equally dispersed among the rest of the crowd. There were Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Canadians, and other foreign nationals also taking the flight to Narita, although there were about 100-120 JETs from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa by my estimation and we as a group outnumbered the rest of the passengers. As such there were plenty of friends to make and talk to. I spent my time bouncing around from group to group, before finding a cluster of seats with some of my best friends from the Toronto JET group. We kind of moved around and floated from seat to seat within that cluster so I got to sit beside some of the friends that I secretly wished I had been placed next to. Due to turbulence and general lack of desire to crawl over my sleeping seatmates, I ended up sharing a seat with one of my good friends K as she and I tried to compress ourselves into one very small airline seat for a couple hours, while we watched movies and got to know our immediate seatmates. It wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as one would think and was actually my favourite part of the plane ride.
All in all, the 13 hour trip went by exceptionally quickly. I was worried that I’d be completely exhausted by the time we got to Tokyo so eventually, I clambered back to my seat and ninja-dived across my sleeping seatmates before trying to take a short nap. Trying to sleep in a sitting position isn’t particularly comfortable for long periods of time, so my nap was interrupted quite frequently by annoying muscle cramps. By the end of the trip I had slept maybe two or three hours, but it felt like one endless day, which was actually only half finished by this point.
Finally the captain’s voice came on the intercom announcing that we were nearing the coast of Japan. Excitedly, I cracked open the shade and peered outside.
I have never been to Japan and it has been a dream of mine to visit ever since I was a wee lil tot, so seeing the eastern coast stretch down the horizon was an especially surreal experience. I had the overwhelming feeling that this is what Columbus must have felt like when he first gazed upon the Americas. A brave new world and a thousand adventures lie in wait.