I apologize for the tardiness of this post, but this has been the first chance I’ve had to grab a few hours before rushing off to another adventure!

My first day in Osaka began in Honolulu with a chants, song, and dance at Gate 34 as Hawaiian Airlines and the community came together to celebrate the first departure of their inaugural route to Kansai Airport.  After the speeches, hula, and traditional Japanese fan dance, a blessing was made and the maile leaf was untied, and our trip was officially underway. The crew gathered for some final photos, and then we all boarded to settle in for the eight hour flight to Japan.

Throughout the flight, the flight attendants were friendly, helpful, and attentive.  We were served a snack, then a full meal (the cheesecake was delicious!), and a final ‘high tea’ box that came wrapped furoshiki-style, which contained a cookie, a mac-nut chocolate, and a croissant sandwich. I was happy to be drinking hot green tea throughout the flight – my immune system is notoriously bad, so I was being extra careful about staying warm and hydrated.

Finally, an announcement from the pilot informed us that Mount Fuji could be seen off the right side of the plane, and I scrambled across to catch my first view of the famous mountain. Since it’s summer, there was no snow, but I could still recognize its distinctive shape, looming above the clouds.  After a little while, I looked out my window to see green mountains and the patterns of farmland with houses scattered about, leading to a hazy sea. It was my first look at ‘the Fatherland’.

We came around the bay for a comfortable landing at Kansai Airport. Then, after disembarking, we headed for a shuttle to customs, and I was already beginning to feel the legendary Japan summer heat. The immigration and customs rooms themselves were fairly warm, and the passengers began to fan themselves with their passports. I began to regret not having a change of clothes on hand, as I’d dressed to stay warm on the plane, but there was no time, and we boarded the bus to take us into Osaka!

Since the Japanese drive on the left side of the road, it took some getting used to. But after about an hour’s ride, we were dropped off at our amazing hotel, the Imperial Hotel Osaka. After checking into our luxurious rooms, graciously sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, Burt, Toby, Esme, and I ventured out into the streets in search of flavored Kit Kats and our first dinner in Japan.  I was thrilled as I read the kana signs along the road, revealing familiar words like “curry”, “takoyaki”, “izakaya”, “udon”, and of course, “ramen”. I was also excited to see the famous Japanese vending machines scattered along every street, though mostly these contained drinks or cigarettes. We finally settled on a small ninniku ramen shop on the corner, serving garlic ramen in two sizes, the smaller one being 850円. It was delicious, and the bottom of the bowl was littered in chunks of garlic cloves, the perfect, healthy way to end my long day. After returning to my room, I did some troubleshooting with my plug adapter (it wasn’t working with the travel power strip I’d brought, so I borrowed one from the hotel), and took a photo of the nighttime view from my window before going to sleep. The next day was our tour of Kyoto!

Check out what my travel companions have been posting!

Finally, keep following the #HAOsaka hashtag on Twitter…I did get my hands on a mobile WiFi unit, and have been sporadically tweeting when we’re out and about!

This trip’s airfare, first hotel night, first Kyoto tour, and some meals have been provided by Hawaiian Airlines.

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