This post originally appeared on my AikiWeb blog…
I made it back to Kyoto in one piece. A kind soul at Peach airlines seated me in the plane’s first row, so I was first off the plane and into the line at immigration.
On my first trip through immigration, back in January, I was literally the last in line. I got a lot of questions that I thought were explained under the umbrella phrase “I am a tourist.” Then the customs officials gave me trouble, too. In addition to the normal paperwork declaring that I didn’t have contraband, the customs agents showed me a picturebook with photos of drugs, weapons, etc, and made me sign a special document swearing that I didn’t have any of that. Then they went through my bag looking for the things I had just sworn I didn’t have, and I had to remove my coat and shoes for inspection. One girl pulled out of my backpack some tea that I had been given as a gift in China. Ah ha! “What this?” she asked. Luckily, it was the ball tea that opens into a flower shape, and one of the other inspectors recognized it, so I didn’t actually have to prove that my tea was… tea.
Anyhow, I thought maybe since I wasn’t last in line this time, I would get better treatment. Plus, I was wearing better clothes. Not so. I must have “undesirable” imprinted in my features. Last time, customs wanted to know what kind of tourist travels without a guide book (something I did all over Asia). This time, it was where my dogi is if I’m studying aikido.
But I did make it, with another 90-day permission stamped in my passport.