On taking my initial steps into Japan at Kansai Airport I felt reassured for I had dreamt of this moment since I was ten. I was delighted to hear how accommodating Kyoto was, particularly with public transportation. My host mother even lived a 5-minute walk away from the nearest bus and railway stops. The house was in between both railway lines like a PB and J sandwich, and I LOVE peanut butter, extra crunchy. So anyway, I got used to the noisy trains racing by pretty remarkably fast, which as I reflect was probably a good thing as it was the least of my worries to come.

On the shinkansen train eating kobe beef. One of the ways I got to the airport on time

A few weeks into our stay in Kyoto misfortune made her first strike. Our break dates unfortunately had to change to accommodate getting our Indian visas. The Indian consulate needed our passports for lord knows how long as these things tend to take awhile to process for India I learned. For some strange reason they would not accept any of our bribes. In my wisdom, which in my humble opinion is quite vast, a few days earlier I had booked flights to and from Okinawa during our supposed break days. This now had to be immediately changed. I wasn’t even sure if I could fly within Japan without a passport for the longest time. Could I even get to Okinawa anymore?

I probably should back up why I felt the need to travel all the way to Okinawa in the first place. My sweetheart, who works for the U.S. Navy, was stationed in Okinawa last January in 2014. Even if for only a few days, I wanted to take the opportunity of being so close to where he was to go see him. I hadn’t seen him in 9 months. A week passed with continuous research and phone calls to airlines inquiring about how essential it was for me to have a passport. I even at one point almost called the U.S. embassy in Japan to figure the whole mess out.

The next misfortune hit me after discovering that I could fly without a passport within Japan since it was a domestic flight. A week before our break, I learned that a super typhoon of all things was headed towards Japan and specifically going to hit Okinawa hard. Of all the luck, I thought! For days I tracked the weather and became quite good about getting updated on the status of the typhoon. Soon it hit and my flight became canceled.

In the car on my birthday as the typhoon passes through in Kyoto

Even after making another one for the next day it got canceled again! It wasn’t till half way through the break, as well as the day after my 21st birthday, that I was able to fly to Okinawa without any cancelations.

Flying back from Okinawa, Japan as happy as a clam as the sun sets

I was even more delighted by the fact that my passport had been returned to me earlier than expected. Apparently the Indian consulate didn’t need them for as long as we had predicted. Through all the mayhem and serious headaches I appreciate the learning experience it gave me. As cheesy as that sounds I had never really taken the initiative to plan trips in advance and had learned a very important lesson. Traveling in Japan can change at a moments notice due to weather. It happens very often there, especially during the typhoon season. Know the country you are in is all I can say and be flexible. In all the chaos I can at least say I made it to Okinawa and celebrated my birthday while a typhoon came through.