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Three hours in Narita

| Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It’s 2:30 p.m. in Tokyo, and I’m sitting on a blue bench in the Narita airport. 

After a hectic week of travel across Taiwan for a conference, I’m exhausted. 

But my flight to Chicago doesn’t board until 5:55 p.m., and I have a column to write. 

In my Intro to Film and TV class, we watched a black and white French film called “Cleo from 5 to 7.” It followed the life of a woman from 5 to 7 p.m. as she awaited life-changing news. We checked in with her every few minutes as she completed seemingly mundane tasks throughout the day and were able to catch glimpses of her character through these check-ins. It was an interesting format, so I’ve decided to replicate it. 

Which means… it’s time for an adventure! I just exchanged 25 US Dollars for 2664 Japanese Yen. Let’s see what I can do in three hours. 

2:41 p.m.: ¥2664

I promised my family an exciting snack and candy taste-test when I go home for Thanksgiving, so I’ve been searching this airport like mad for anything that looks exciting. I can’t read any of the words on these packages, so the snack task is proving to be a bit difficult, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

As I walk around, I come across a sectioned off area of the airport filled with small wooden tables and cherry blossom paintings. There’s a sign that says “free origami lessons.” Snacks suddenly mean nothing… it’s craft time. 

2:52 p.m.: ¥2664


I walked over to the woman who appeared to be in charge. She checked my boarding pass and put my bags away. Then, she ushered me over to a table covered in square pieces of paper and sample origami. She asked which one I wanted to make. My heart was set on the classic crane until she picked up a different bird and pulled it from both ends, causing its wings to flap. My mind was changed. Time to make a flappy bird. 

She sat across from me and walked me through the directions, her folds precise and beautiful. Mine were (a lot) less precise, but I still thought they looked pretty good. After finishing the bird and testing its flappability, she handed me a bag with directions and paper to make my own origami at home and sent me on my way.

I walked down the expansive airport hallway, searching for the next thing to fill my time, and my eye was caught by colorful bags of candies. I remembered my original mission and began perusing the small shop for things my siblings would like. A few minutes later, I walked out with a bag of goodies that appeared to be chocolates, some gummy things, pea crisps (?), and Hi-Chews. Success! 

3:12 p.m.: ¥1914

I’ve been walking around aimlessly and my arms hurt from carrying all this stuff… I think it’s time to make my haul a little lighter and do a quick taste test of my purchases.

The first thing I grab is a red Hi-Chew. I’ve had these in the US and this tastes exactly the same, although it looks a little different. The outside has small flecks of red on it. Perhaps it has more real fruit content? Its flavor, combined with the potential contribution to my daily intake of fruit earns it a solid 8.5/10. 

 Next, it’s a white chocolate square attached to the top of a black (dark chocolate?) biscuit. I take a bite and WOW. 

This is so good. It tastes similar to a cookies-and-cream Hershey bar, but better. The white chocolate portion is slightly less sweet and significantly less artificial, and the dark chocolate crunch is richer. It’s very good, especially considering it only cost $1. 9.2/10.

The final thing I decided to open was called Macadamia Nut Chocolate. This also cost $1, but it didn’t taste like it! The chocolate was creamy and full-bodied, balanced by the crunchy and buttery macadamia nuts. Seriously, step up the candy game, America! 8.7/10.

Okay, that was fun, but I think I need some real food now. Time to go on a new quest! 

3:40 p.m.: ¥1914

Jk, I just took an Instagram break. Walking is hard work! Haha. Back to the task at hand. 

4:08 p.m.: ¥578

I found food! And a seat in a tiny airport cafe that serves udon soup. I’m munching on some edamame and eavesdropping on the conversation of two women at the tables to my right. It sounds like they just met in this airport, perhaps on their own layover adventures, or… the thought is cut short. My udon with tofu has arrived. 

It looks a little strange and smells kinda funny. And I remember that I forgot to ask what kind of broth the soup is made with. I sniff it and taste a noodle. Ah. I forgot to ask about meat. This is clearly a bone broth and I fear my frail vegetarian body will not react to it well. The idea of being ill in a tiny airplane bathroom is not appealing in the slightest, so I finish the edamame and leave the soup alone, happy I packed extra protein bars. As I leave, the women are still chatting happily.

4:36 p.m.: ¥578

I am determined to get rid of this money. 

4:38 p.m.: ¥578

I spy a giant snack wall ahead…

4:55 p.m.: ¥78

Sitting down now at gate 34, where I will begin boarding in an hour. My bag is now filled to the brim with gummy candies for my brothers, chocolates for one sister and mochi for the other. I think I’ll fill the rest of this time with some of the homework I saved for the plane. It’s a typical Sunday, after all, and I have an exam tomorrow. 

5:55 p.m.: ¥78

I’m in line for boarding. One adventure down… now, the 11-hour flight begins. 

Ashton Weber is a sophomore with lots of opinions. She is majoring in economics and Film, Television, and Theatre with a JED minor. Making new friends is one of her favorite things, so feel free to contact her at [email protected] or @awebz01 on Twitter

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Ashton Weber

Ashton is a current Sophomore majoring in Economics and FTT, and minoring in the Gallivan Journalism Program. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but now resides in Flaherty Hall. Feel free to contact her about anything... literally, anything. She is often bored.

Contact Ashton