Kyou wa, Peter-san wa Doko?
Where's Peter Today?
20th Oct 2004: Day 14-- Tokyo
The eye of super typhoon 23 had passed over Miyazaki to the East of us in the early hours of the morning. It had clipped Kagoshima but the worst was past and the town appeared to be largely intact.
Our flights from the airport were another matter. We proceeded as planned and set off to Kagoshima airport to the North East. Along the way we saw a worrying sight from the expressway. A town at the foot of a mountain was being inundated by what was normally a mountain stream waterfall. During the night it had turned into a muddy torrent that must have been 20m wide and 10m deep--like some transplanted Niagara Falls. We couldn't stop to see what was happening but anyone living near the banks of the river was bound to be having a bad day.
We reached the airport which was… deserted. The nice ladies at the Skymark desk said that the first flight was cancelled as it was too windy to take off. They didn't know about the mid-day flight but the afternoon one should be ok to go. They said that they'd bump us on to the later flights, no problem.
At this I was relieved that we'd chosen to hire a car that charges for full days rather than by the hour. As we'd paid for the whole day just to use it for the morning it seemed like a good opportunity to go for a drive and come back later.
We set off in the direction of Sakurajima again and surveyed the damage. Again, behind the storm, the sun came out brightly and we took some great photos in the gusty morning. At times we were strongly reminded that it was still not completely safe to be roaming about outdoors. We were photographing a set of old monuments when the tin roof of the house down the road was ripped off and flew down the street. At that point it seemed prudent to get back into the car. Luckily, I'd taken out full insurance from the rental company… good call.
On our way back to the airport, we stopped at a fabulous soba restaurant. It's speciality was cold soba noodles with various accompaniments. It also happened to be in a beauty spot on the wall of a valley that sheltered it from the wind.
On returning to the airport, the mid-day flight had also been cancelled but they were confident that the afternoon flight would go and there were still enough spaces on it for us. We sat around and waited.
After a while a swarm of school kids arrived and checked into our flight. They were a bit disorganised and more randomly dressed than any kids we'd seen in Tokyo or other big cities so we guessed that they were from round here and going to Tokyo for a trip. It seems that out in the sticks, the uniform codes are a little less strict.
On the flight, they took up the whole of the back of the plane and were in group hysteria mode. The flight was turbulent and every time we went through a pocket there were rollercoaster-style screams and whoops from the girls at the back. Most of the passengers in the front couldn't help but laugh.
In a testament to the skill of Japanese pilots, we took off, and landed perfectly in the gusty winds. Arriving in Tokyo, we had the treat of riding the monorail back to town and I called one of my pen friends, Rie, to see if she was still up for going out. Her trains to Chiba were being cancelled due to the approaching typhoon (it had been downgraded from a super typhoon to just a regular typhoon by the time it reached Tokyo) so she couldn't meet us. We rescheduled to meet up on Friday night instead.
Arriving back at our familiar hotel from when we first landed in Japan, we went out to grab a bite to eat and then got thoroughly soaked by an incredible downpour of rain on the way back.
Day 14 -- Tokyo