Saturday, June 14, 2008

Searching for a War Eagle

I recently spent two weeks in Japan with my wife and kids. We were there for several reasons: to visit my wife’s family, to help our kids (dual nationals with Japanese citizenship) understand what it means to be Japanese, and to have some good Japanese food.

However, I had another goal as well…to hear a War Eagle. You’ve seen the commercials. (Click on video above.) People are somewhere away from the Deep South and they bump into a complete stranger that says, “War Eagle.” Armed with two Auburn t-shirts and a nice Auburn knit shirt, I did my best to make it happen.

Seriously though, I thought, would I actually hear it? I had lived in Japan for four years. I didn’t remember seeing an Auburn shirt or cap during that time. I had visited three times since then, but didn’t remember seeing anything Auburn. Why would this trip be any different? But, if Auburn fans are known for one thing, it’s their faith. So I donned an Auburn t-shirt, drove to the airport with my family, and headed out.

From Hartsfield, we flew to LAX, spent time with my wife’s parents, as they live in Los Angeles, and boarded a plane to Tokyo (Narita Airport), my wife’s mother flying with us. We landed in Tokyo, went through customs, and then boarded another plane for Osaka. At Osaka airport, we were met by my wife’s uncle. No War Eagle.

The next day, Friday, we started touring. I wasn’t wearing an Auburn shirt, but felt I could give a war Eagle of I saw something. We went to Kyoto. I enjoyed the scenery. No Auburn stuff in view. Saturday and Sunday were the same. Nothing.

On Monday, we boarded the bullet train for an all-day trip to the northern island of Hokkaido. I wore my Auburn shirt proudly…nothing. We toured Hokkaido until Thursday, before catching a train back to Tokyo. No luck.

On Friday, I wore my Auburn shirt again for a day of touring in Tokyo. The same luck persisted. Nothing. I searched for Auburn stuff in my remaining three days in Japan: No beautiful orange and blue reared anywhere. Friday night, we rode the bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka. The people sitting in front of us lived in Gainesville, Georgia, close to our home in Buford. However, they weren’t Auburn fans.

On Tuesday, we headed to the airport to go home. I donned an Auburn shirt. From Osaka, we went to Haneda (Tokyo’s other airport). From Haneda, we took an hour-long bus ride to Narita. From Narita, we flew to LAX, where we met my father-in-law. My wife and kids were staying with my in-laws for another week. As for me, I was headed back to Atlanta to go back to work.

After an hour or so with my father-in-law, in which boys greedily gobbled down McDonald’s, I said goodbye to my wife and kids. From there, I passed through security for the last time on this trip. Sadly, I walked towards me gate, thinking about how much I would miss my family the next week.

“War Eagle!” The sound broke my concentration. Startled, I looked up and saw two pilots, one of whom had said it. “War Eagle!” I smiled back through a jet-lagged face.

No comments: