THE BLOG
06/06/2005 08:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tokyo In Fifteen Minutes

Traveling to Tokyo on a great Japanese airline called ANA, I am dreaming of the day not too far in the future when this 11 hour trip will take just two. I'm told it will happen in the next decade or so. Then if we can just get the Space Shuttle fired up, by my calculations the trip should take 15 minutes or so. When that happens however, it will still be followed by an hour and a half ride into Tokyo itself since Narita International Airport isn't actually in Tokyo at all, but rather in the neighboring "state" of Chiba.

If you like Kennedy assasination conspiracy theories, here's the Japanese equivalent: the inconvenient and out of the way Narita was built in the late '70's as a civilian airport, say the conspiracy theorists, with the end goal of converting it into a military one when Tokyo-ites become fed up with traveling an hour and a half out of their way to another "state." In the meantime work consisting of reclaiming land which was heretofore ocean has continued now for 20 plus years on the old airport, Haneda, which is actually in Tokyo. That part of the story I can confirm since I spent much of my sixteenth summer hauling scrap metal there and dumping it. According to said theorists as soon as this work is completed officials will announce that due to popular demand, Haneda will resume international flights, leaving Narita open for military use.

If past is prologue, many of my meetings with various Japanese entertainment industry execs will largely consist of them questioning me about President Bush and his religious beliefs. The term "fundamentalist" or "genrishugisha" has recently gained currency here. For the last fifty years the average Japanese learned about America through a Japanese news media which failed to report on, reflect or properly understand the American heartland and American movies which had the same problem. So, like many Americans, Japanese have suddenly discovered the Red States phenomenon and they don't know what to make of it.