Cardinal Hayes Goes to Japan:
Land of the Rising Sun
“I hope you’re ready to be on a plane for 16 hours”—one of the last things I heard before meeting with my fellow Hayesmen in the Newark International Airport at 3:00 a.m. I thought that I could handle such a long flight because I had previously been on a plane for a couple of hours heading to Georgia and Florida, but flying across the world to Japan was unlike any flight that I have ever experienced. Even without a source of entertainment for much of the flight, I managed to survive riding on a plane for almost a full day.
The plane landed in the city of Osaka, and there we met Yu-san, our tour director. (Many of us affectionately called him by the nickname of Boy Boy because he wore a black fisherman’s hat that had the word “boy” inscribed on it.). In the airport, Yu-san introduced himself and took us to the bus that would transport us to our hotel in Kyoto. Cardinal Hayes’s exhausted group of foreigners officially started their 7-day trip in Japan. On our first day of activities, we visited tourist sites like the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine while also covering Mt. Inari, the Kinkaku-ji (which translates as “Golden Pavilion”) and local shopping centers to buy food. Then to cap off the day, we had dinner at a local Japanese restaurant. Many things became clear after this first day. For starters, it was apparent to me that the time zone difference was going to be a hard adjustment.
Japanese Standard Time is 14 hours ahead of New York’s Eastern Time zone. For example, when it is 3:00 p.m. in Japan it is 1:00 a.m. in New York. Such a drastic difference was going to be a challenge for most of us. Secondly, every day would include plenty of activities, which equated to a lot of walking. At the end of each day, a schedule for the following day is posted in the lobby of our hotel. Thirdly, seafood was going to be available to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By the sixth day, many of us were desperately in search for a McDonalds—desiring American food. Lastly, I realized that it was wise to have your phone charged and to be ready to take pictures. We saw sights that were unlike anything we have ever experienced. It is important to be prepared to capture these special moments. As expected, the trip had many standout places.
A half-day excursion to Nara (a city filled with wild deer), a 2-hour bullet train ride from Kyoto to Osaka, a classic karaoke night on day 5, a cable car ride to Hakone Komagatake Mountain, and a visit to the Great Buddha in Kamakura. We immortalized these moments with pictures. On February 23, the penultimate day of the trip, it happened to be my birthday alongside another Cardinal Hayes senior. On that night the birthday boys were all surprised with their own cakes. The birthday wishes were a genuine surprise and an excellent way to cap off the trip.
When the last day came upon us, everyone had their suitcases and carry-on bags packed for the airport in Osaka. After we went through customs, we officially said goodbye to our trusted tour director Yu-san. We boarded our flight and flew back home. Cardinal Hayes’s trip to Japan was the farthest we have ever flown and the most popular trip we have ever taken.