It had been nearly 30 years since I left Japan. Life, a wife, kids and a career all got in the way of traveling back to the Country that had been so good to me during my formative years, and after three decades of being away from Japan, I decided that it was time to return home for a visit.
My immediate family all moved to New York City shortly after I first made my move to the states, leaving, what I thought was little reason to return. When I made the decision to travel to Japan with a handful of my closest relatives, I realized that this would be the first time my children had ever set foot on the soil that I still felt so connected to. They had never seen the great ports, bustling streets, incredible landscape, or the culture filled markets that were still fresh in my memory after all these years. It was then that I realized this trip would be all about seeing Japan through the eyes of my kids who had only heard my stories and seen pictures of “home.”
With just 14 days on our itinerary, it seemed impossible to squeeze in all the sights, sounds, tastes and all of my childhood experiences that I wanted to share with the little ones. As the list of places to visit and things to see grew by the minute, we realized that we were going to spend an entire day in the air, not to mention time in the airport if we took a commercial flight, as we normally do. To cut down on travel time, ensure comfort for the long journey, and of course keep the kids from whining too much, my family members and I decided that it would be best to rent a private jet for this trip. We were set to have the trip of a lifetime.
With approximately a week until liftoff, we finalized our travel plans by confirming reservations at our hotels scattered across the country, checked in with old friends that we planned on meeting with, and starting packing our bags. Realizing that we would be away from home for a full two weeks, the luggage was full, and heavier than imagined before we even got to packing clothes for every possible scenario. The whole family was buzzing with anticipation of seeing old friends, visiting our neighborhood that we hadn’t seen in decades, and watching my two children experience Japan for the very first time.
On the day of departure, we broke the news to the kids that we wouldn’t be flying on a big commercial plane like they were used to, and my youngest broke down into tears thinking that we were going to have to drive all the way to Japan. “But, Dad, how is the car going to get across the ocean?” he whimpered. I went along with it and told him that we’d just have to hope the car floats. I wish I had pictures of his face when he saw the private jet that would actually be getting us to Tokyo.
The kids weren’t the only ones who were impressed by air travel at its finest, as the rest of my family that was traveling were equally awed by the luxury of the jet. Thankfully the awe wore off after just a couple of hours, and the plane was full of sleeping passengers for the majority of the flight. What a perfect way to start the trip of a lifetime.