My ID: 3:34pm, Tuesday, 22 March 2005: Narita Airport
United Airlines Flight UA837 from San Francisco
While it goes without saying that most first-timers to Japan arrive through the Narita gateway, my first true experience with Japan was, quite literally, at Narita Airport. The destination of my first trip to Asia was the Philippines, via Singapore, and my flight from the US touched down first in Tokyo. I’m not counting the hour I spent around Gate 54 as my first foray into Japan, but it just so happens that I had the reverse route back, six days later. This time, my incoming flight from Singapore left about a three hour window before I had to depart back to SFO.
Being the rookie traveler that I was at the time, I decided that instead of eating the same dried out sandwich and Pocky pack I had at Gate 54 earlier that week, I would stand in line at immigration to get my passport stamped. I had my fancy Narita Immigration sticker 30 minutes later, and stepped outside to breathe Japanese air for the first time—in the Narita parking lot. After a 15-minute tour of Narita’s long-term parking and train station, I thought better of my inkling to leave the airport, and went back to the gate for my flight…but not until I had experienced Japan for the first time!