Select a primary language to get the most out of our Journal pages:
English 日本語 Español Português

We have made a lot of improvements to our Journal section pages. Please send your feedback to!

My Trip to the Orient - Part 1

Editor’s Note: This series of articles is taken from a diary kept by Nikkei Canadian Alyssa Erin Woo, then ten years old, during her trip to Japan with her grandparents. Alyssa is the granddaughter of Yoshimi Susan Maikawa, author of “Ba-chan’s Story,” a series on Discover Nikkei.

Introduction – My Dream Vacation

Summer, 2005, when I was 10 years old, my Ba-chan (grandmother) and Ji-chan (grandfather) took me on a trip to Japan. Ba-chan also took my Mom to Japan in 1971 when she was 10 years old.

While visiting Ba-chan and Ji-chan at Bob’s Lake cottage in summer 2004, they were talking about going on a trip to Japan. They asked if I would like to go with them and I got all excited. I had never left Canada before and I jumped for joy at the thought of going somewhere new. We decided to go next summer when I was ten.

In March 2005, Ji-chan started making plans and bought us our tickets to fly to Japan. The trip came closer and closer and I started to get nervous about leaving home without my parents. Our trip was going to last three-and-a-half weeks. We were leaving on June 27, just before school ended and returning on July 20.

As days passed, I became more and more nervous, but I was getting really excited at the same time. Before I knew it, my huge adventure was about to begin!

* * *

Sunday, June 26, 2005 – Leaving Sarnia for Toronto

My suitcase and backpack were packed and ready for my trip. Ji-chan had called and asked me if there was any space left in my suitcase because Ba-chan was bringing too many clothes. There was enough room left in mine to fit a whole pillow!

It was Sunday morning and the time had arrived for us to pack up the van and leave for Toronto where we were going to meet Ba-chan and Ji-chan. Excitement and nervousness filled my mind. I was really leaving home, my parents and Brandon, but I just thought of all the new things I would experience in Japan.

First, Mom, Dad, Brandon, Ba-chan, Ji-chan, Auntie Meiko and I went to Uncle Al and Auntie Sandra’s house to see Felix and our new baby cousin Winston Fumio. We had a great barbecue lunch and Auntie Meiko made strawberry shortcake for dessert.

After leaving Uncle Al and Auntie Sandra’s house, we drove Auntie Meiko to her house where we rearranged Ba-chan’s extra things to fit into my suitcase. Finally, it was time for Ba-chan, Ji-chan and I to check into to the Sheraton Hotel at Terminal 3. We said goodbye to Mom, Dad and Brandon after unloading our suitcases at the Hotel entrance. As they drove away, I started missing them already. Afterwards, Dad told me he cried as he left. We were staying the night in room 488.

Next, Ji-chan and I went swimming in the Hotel pool and Ba-chan came and took pictures. There was also a Jacuzzi and a sauna. For supper, we went to my favourite restaurant, Swiss Chalet where we had a huge dinner. That night, I was very tired and fell asleep with my journal in my hand (at home, I usually fall asleep with a book in my hand.)

* * *

Monday, June 27, 2005 – Japan, Here we Come!

Hey everyone! Today’s the day we fly to Tokyo. I woke up early this morning because I was really excited. Ba-chan and Ji-chan must have been very excited too because they were up early as well.

First we decided to go swimming before breakfast. It was really fun until we heard an alarm that kept ringing. The alarm finally stopped right before we went to the Sheraton Hotel Restaurant. I ordered silver dollar pancakes and it came with maple syrup. I used some of Ji-chan’s whipped cream on my pancakes. It was delicious!

Is our plane here yet

After breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and walked over to Northwest Airlines. The Sheraton Hotel was connected to the airport with a covered walkway. Going through Security we had to take all our metal things off and they took x-rays to see what we had inside our bags.

Next was the boring part—waiting for our plane. We were all bored so we ate Pringles and played games. Then, we realised that we forgot our water, apples and orange juice at the hotel!

Finally, it was time to get on the plane to fly to Minneapolis, USA. It was a really small plane. This was to be my first time leaving the ground! Taking off made my ears feel funny so I chewed some gum. Our flight was about 2 hours long.

Plane to Minneapolis

When we got to Minneapolis, we had to walk a long way to G4 until we found a nice man who gave us a free taxi ride. Phew!

We didn’t have to wait at the airport very long this time. We went on a huge Jumbo Jet plane and each seat had a pillow, a blanket and headphones. For dinner, I ordered chicken, Ba-chan ordered beef and Ji-chan ordered chicken. I didn’t care for airline food! After dinner, I looked out the window and saw some huge glaciers and mountains. It was about -21°C out there! (Right now we’re over Alaska.)

Brrr! It’s cold here!

Minneapolis → Winnipeg → Edmonton → Jasper → Alaska

Distance Travelled: 2,941 km
Head wind speed: 120 km/h

It’s a long trip but we’re still not there yet.

Alyssa: “Are we there yet?”

Altitude: 43,593 feet
Arrival Time to Narita Airport: 4:58 PM

It was beautiful scenery. The glaciers were so huge and snow was on top.
Then, we just watched a little bit of a movie.

Thinking about the flight, I thought it was really neat to see all the cars passing by on the highways and all the buildings in the city. They looked so tiny! It was a big contrast between the land view and flying over Lake Michigan. When we got higher, we saw huge, fluffy, white clouds. I could see the clouds making different shapes in the sky.

Alyssa: “Looking at different cloud shapes is very interesting!”

I am so excited

Hey…It’s Tuesday, June 28, 2005! It’s 5:30 PM. We just ate breakfast—ha, ha! Oh yes, we’re in a different time zone now so in Canada, it’s still early morning on June 28, 2005.

5:30 PM Tokyo, Japan
4:30 AM Sarnia, Canada (13 hours behind Tokyo time)

Part 2 >>

**All photographs are courtesy of the author.

© 2010 Alyssa Erin Woo

Canada Canadian family identity Japan Japanese Canadian traveling trip