76 in Tokyo

Keiko’s mom, Yuko and Mai gathered to welcome me to Japan and celebrate my 76th birthday.  Yuko treated everyone to a wonderful brunch buffet at Tokyo’s Royal Park Hotel.  I am deeply appreciative of the warm welcome and generosity.

On Becoming a Tokyoite

Last night Kazu and Yumi (my brother- and sister-in-law) treated me to a late night dinner at an Izakaya or traditional Japanese sake bar. It was a form of initiation into the Tokyoite lifestyle –– all you can drink for two hours and numerous small plate orders of tasty bar food. The mixture of close family, great conversation, appealing food, ample beer and sake, and the Izakaya atmosphere was a wonderful way to end my first week as a resident of Japan.

As the evening was concluding, our waitress appeared with a surprise dessert in the form of a very special “Welcome to Japan” message from Kazu and Yumi.

I was overwhelmed with emotion and so grateful to my family and friends in Japan who have warmly embraced my decision to live here.

I have visited Japan nearly 20 times since 2001 for business and personal reasons, but last night I realized that I was being accepted as a Tokyoite. It was a touching and heart-warming sensation.

Dealing with Doggy Jet Lag

My third full day in Japan began with walking Toma at 5:30AM in what became a heavy rain.  He had woke me again at 4AM JST, same as the night before, hungry and wanting to be feed.  I gave him some dry food and struggled to go back to sleep.  It was then that I finally realized the source of the problem–Toma was suffering from jet lag!  In fact, 4AM JST equated to 5PM EST, his regular feeding time in the USA.  Despite travelling the many hours and over 6000 miles, his day by day regimen remained in accordance with his circadian rhythm.

Since I do not suffer much from jet lag, I failed to realize how Toma had been affected by his travel experience.  Doing some quick research I learned that his sleep patterns are influenced by way of daylight and nighttime hours and that his feeding routine was also consistent with a particular point of day. Thus, the disruption to that regimen explained his middle of the night behavior.

I began to modify his feeding to help with the transition and establish a routine.  He appears to have responded quickly to our new routine.  Last night, we both slept soundly until waking up at our regular 5:30AM time!


Tokyo Day One

My direct flight to Tokyo on JAL007 from Boston was uneventful and arrived on time.  A last minute phone call from my daughter Jodi made for a wonderful beginning to the journey.  Much too excited and also concerned about Toma, I relaxed listening to music but did not sleep.

On my arrival I was given priority status at passport control and quickly issued my Japanese Residence ID.  Finding myself the first passenger in the baggage area, I was pleased that my luggage was among the first off-loaded.  My good luck continued as the six pieces of luggage with my residency status were not an issue at customs clearance.  I was united with Keiko in a record 30 minutes from the time I landed in Japan.  I was so happy to see her and my niece Mai there to welcome me to my new home.










We had a 45 minute train ride from Narita Airport to our Tokyo condo where we were joined by Keiko’s sister Yuko for a brief tour of the unit.  I am most impressed with and thankful for all the work Keiko did to have our new home ready.  We then went to a nearby restaurant for some sushi.  Asleep by 10:30pm JST, I awoke at 5:30am feeling well rested and looking forward to my first day in my adopted country.

Keiko and I first went to the Adachi-ku town office to complete my registration process and documentation for Japanese national health insurance.  We fortunately arrived as they opened as there were many required documents.  Although the office quickly became a very busy place, the friendly staff handled our case quickly and efficiently.

Before continuing we stopped for breakfast at one of my favorite cafes, Paul’s.  I first learned of this French bakery chain when I lived and worked in Tokyo on the 2001 FIFA World Cup.  Great food and great memories!  A perfect way to start the day.

Our next stop was at a SoftBank store to connect my phone to their mobile telephone network.  Although mobile service is slightly more expensive in Japan than the USA, I believe the service is faster, more reliable and offers more features.  And, we are saving considerable amounts on monthly expenses for condo cable TV and internet services.

On our way home we stopped at an ever present convenience store for some lunch provisions.  Keiko spent the afternoon working from home.  I took a nap and later unpacked the four suitcases we had delivered rather than bringing them with us on the train from Narita Airport the previous evening.

All afternoon, however, we shared thoughts anticipating the expected arrival of Toma later in the day.  The company handling Toma’s travel kept us well informed during his journey.  This photo taken during the Frankfurt Germany layover at the airport’s pet comfort station tells the story a lonely, bewildered Toma.

Toma arrived in Tokyo about 12:30pm where he was greeted by a Japanese firm hired to clear him through the pet import process and deliver him to our home.  They called or texted us with status reports throughout the afternoon and at 7:30pm a very happy Toma was home with us!

It will likely take Toma, as any world travel will understand, a few days to recover from his jet lag and travel experience.  That said, he seems filled with energy and joy in our new home.

October 2, 2019 – Adachi-ku, Tokyo, Japan

On the Road to Japan – Departure Day

Today Toma and I depart on our separate flights for Tokyo. I am flying JAL direct to Tokyo Narita.  He flies Lufthansa with a comfort stop in Frankfurt Germany before continuing on to Tokyo Haneda.  He adapted very well to his crate over the weekend and I trust he is in very good hands.  It was, however, a very tearful experience on my part when Pet Express picked him up at the hotel.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that JAL Premium Economy Class grants you access to the British Airways lounge at Logan Airport.  It is a wonderful environment to finally relax and begin to enjoy my journey to a new life adventure in Tokyo Japan.

Our personal goods will follow by boat.  Departing Boston on October 9 we anticipate arrival and delivery to our condo the week of December 2.  Since we are shipping little furniture and Keiko has done a great job furnishing the condo, we should be able to quickly settle into our new lifestyle.  [In a future post, I will provide more information about and photographs of our Tokyo residence and location.]

Now its time to have some food and a drink to prepare for my 14 hour flight.  Kanpai!


September 30, 2019; Boston Logan Airport British Airway Lounge