Made it into Niigata and got my re-entry permit with no disasters. This is incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever had a disaster-free interaction with the Japanese government before. I was out of the immigration office in twenty minutes, about five of which were spent writing my address. I still haven’t memorized the kanji and my pen kept blotting.
The nearest train station, as well as a couple of the stops on the way into Niigata, seem to be run on sort of an honor system. There’s one small ticket vending machine, but no station attendants or ticket scanners. You put your ticket in a metal mailbox that says “tickets go here” when you come into one of these stations. Most people using the train are going to and from Niigata (which has proper ticket-checking counters), not from one unattended station to another. I’m guessing Japan Rail loses less money on this than it would cost to install scanners and pay attendants.
A five-or-six-year-old boy a few seats behind me on the bus had just gotten off an airplane, and his mom had gotten him some toy airplanes. He was telling stories about them, loudly so everyone on the bus could hear: “There were a lot of airplanes, and they crashed. And all the people living on the Earth died… Meanwhile, there were some airplanes, and they crashed. And all the people living in China died.” I’m not sure what his problem was with China in specific, but he sent his airplanes to destroy it two or three separate times.