Day 2: Jetlag, Sushi Galore and Geisha’s in Japan

Day 2: Saturday, 18 April 2020 – Osaka, Japan (34.6937° N, 135.5023° E) (9,715 Covid-19 cases + 154 deaths…in ALL of Japan)

And so we fly away from North America on our first flight…

We prefer late night flights across the Pacific, but to Japan that is not possible as they have strict noise abatement laws that restrict the times of landings and takeoffs…that and the fact that the mostly Japanese flyers aboard those planes to-and-from Japan culturally do not like sleeping on planes. Their airlines listen to their customers and schedule accordingly. However, for us taking a quick 23-day trip around the world, it delivers a triple whammy of extended jet lag, a late arrival, and worst, a wasted day to have experiences and create memories doing scavenges.

Today’s memory occurs during The Global Scavenger Hunt’s 2002 edition, our first, and is from my wife and partner-in-crime, Pamela.

“Osaka, Japan was the first stop of our first adventure and what a destination to start in. Bill always likes to say he’s giving me a trip around the world for my birthday and it began here in Japan. We landed with all of four hours left of my 35th birthday.  It was an amazing 2 ½ days that began on April 14th 2002. Bill and I explored Japan the fall before as an advance trip to this adventure and there was an experience I really wanted to do that I hadn’t last time. So, it was the final morning in Osaka before we were meeting the travelers and catching a plane to China. I really wanted to have the “Geisha Girl” experience, but it required three hours and we would be cutting it close. Bill, being efficient and time creative, found a photo studio and was determined on making this treat come true. It was everything I had hoped for and more. I was greeted with tea and taken into the “closet” to pick my kimono for my photo shoot. I was slack jawed when I saw hundreds of beautiful colorful kimonos to pick from and knowing I was limited on time, I had to choose fast.  Then I was taken to the makeup room where they proceeded to pin back my hair and apply white makeup to my face, shoulders and back and paint my face like a traditional Kyoto geisha. A wig then covered my hair. Three wonderful giggling women proceeded to dress me in my kimono with great care and slip my feet into special socks for my wooden sandals. (Now I know why Geishas take such tiny steps, because you feel like you’re going to tip over with every step!) I looked into the mirror and could hardly believe it was me. They ushered me into the photo studio where they took a series of traditional photos with me holding a parasol and wooden ball. Finally, I was taken outside for Bill to see me, and luckily someone took a picture of both us together that brings a huge smile to my face to this day; but I do recall I looked a lot like the Joker if I smiled showing teeth, so I prefer the pictures I’m in only smiling with my eyes!”


It’s true, I do take my wife around the world for her birthday each year…well, not this year. And I do remember that day too. Fun. I also remember the night we arrived. I had met the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Osaka Hotel previously and he was most accommodating when I told him I wanted to plan Pamela’s birthday dinner upon arrival. Yes, we were dead tired after crossing the ocean and with all the adrenaline pumping from starting our event when we checked in. But quickly we showered and dressed for our special reservations on the top floor of the hotel. We were politely ushered to a posh private room in the restaurant with a casual area to mill about while food came and went. And food came and went with great regularity…a ten course meal (soup, tempura, yakitori, sashimi, nigiri, sukiyaki, kobe beef…on and on to a special cake..all with corresponding drinks of course…for the next three hours that had us all but falling asleep in the hijiki. I just remember our early morning wake up call to brief the tribe on their two day’s worth of regional scavenges…we slinked back to bed quickly thereafter…

Thinking about Japan, it is a great juxtaposition to visit out the gate first; everything is so clean, modern, efficient and polite…it is truly a homogeneous society that works well. The food is phenomenal and the culture so unique on every level. We have scavenged in the Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe area a couple of times now, and Tokyo once. In 2011, we had scheduled Tokyo for our first destination, but sadly one month before our departure with everything booked–flights, hotels, transpo and hospitality–the twin natural disasters of the Tohoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami triggered the third accident of epic proportions at the Kukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Needless to say, I quickly rebooked elsewhere, not wanting to divert any of their precious attentions and pretend to have any fun in their damaged backyard one short month later. Being agile up to the last moment is critical when you are the Ringmaster of the world travel championship and the world starts playing tricks on you…

Get a good night sleep, because tomorrow your memories are taking us to the sultry and exotic Khmer capital of Phnom Penh.


Stay safe and well. Till tomorrow…

Please send any memories you want us to post to ringmaster (at) globalscavengerhunt (dot) com

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