Tragedy in Japan: Customs problems

We’re now happily settled into our lovely little hostel in Japan, off to our next adventure. To get there, we traveled out of Singapore, through Taiwan, and into Japan via Tokyo’s Narita airport (more on that later), where we encountered the second casualty of our trip (the first being my dignity while eating crab).

In passing through customs, I was seriously concerned about the seed-containing snacks we were carrying, or the jar of Kaya (a delicious coconut jam that tastes best on toast with extensive portions of butter slathered on). I tried convincing Liz to eat a pack or two of the worst offenders, but to no avail.

All the while, bad memories from my childhood of massive delays in U.S. customs from Egypt popped up where the customs agent would determine our fate with the slightest glance at our declaration form. “Oh, you’re coming from Egypt. Libb [Egyptian roasted seeds]?” He said with a smile, before ushering us off to a protracted unpacking and repacking of our suitcases.

Unlike the U.S., Japanese customs couldn’t care less about our seeds. The casualty, however, was none other than my seemingly benign beef jerky, whose arrival from Kickstarter was delayed until just before my trip. “Oh… Beef jerky?” the customs agent said, eyes widening. He slowly backed away, calming me unreassuringly while ushering frantically for support.

Up comes a gloved, masked customs agent with a solemn look on his face and menacing doctor-esque bag in hand. “Beef jerky? I’m sorry, but we must quarantine it.” Out comes long list of banned countries – the U.S. is featured prominently. “But – I haven’t even gotten to try it! Can I at least eat some?!?” I plead. “Ok, you can have one piece” he says politely.

Basking in my victory, I dip my hand into the bag, plucking out one juicy morsel of the root beer & habanero jerky, passing another to Liz. To my disappointment, the jerky is pretty good (though expensive), and I can only have one piece. In a last act of defiance, I grabbed another one and scarfed it down before my beloved jerky disappeared forever into a quarantine bag.

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  • Ok I am a bit behind on reading your posts but with a title like this one I was worried! Instead I just laughed my head off at loud at work, multiple times…

    Also, no one could maintain dignity while eating such amazing crab dishes as the ones you have posted. no one!

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