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Japanese man leaves Mexico airport after 117-day stay  Dec 29, 2008

A Japanese man who spent almost four months living in the Mexico City airport, evoking comparisons to the 2004 Tom Hanks film “The Terminal,” left in a taxi yesterday accompanied by a friend.

Hiroshi Nohara, 41, arrived in Mexico on a United Airlines flight Sept. 2 and has slept in the crowded food court on the international departures level since then. He became a celebrity in the city of 20 million, with people flocking to the airport to take his picture, buy him food and donate clothes.

“Another Japanese person came for him yesterday, and they left in a taxi after spending 117 days in the airport,” said Victor Manuel Mejia, head of the airport’s press office. “We can’t remember any similar cases in the past, it was totally atypical.”

Nohara, whose job in Tokyo was cleaning office buildings, was allowed to stay at the airport because he wasn’t breaking any laws or bothering people. Efforts by the Japanese embassy to persuade him to leave were unsuccessful, Mejia said in an interview last month. Nohara had left the airport on several brief excursions previously, and stayed at a hotel when he first arrived before leaving because of the cost.

Nohara may have gone home with a woman who visited him often and invited him to stay at a house in the city’s Colonia del Valle neighborhood, newspaper Reforma reported today. The paper published a photo of Nohara walking to a cab with an unidentified woman.

‘Terminal 2’

Nohara was familiar with the Tom Hanks film, in which a foreigner found himself stranded at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and ended up living there. In a November interview he pointed to himself and said “‘Terminal 2,’” suggesting a sequel.

The visitor can legally stay in Mexico until March 1, when his 180-day tourist visa expires, Mejia said.

During an interview last month, Nohara never provided a clear answer to why he had decided to live in the city’s airport.

“I like the airport, I like Mexico,” Nohara said in broken English while sitting at his usual table.

Japanese man leaves Mexico airport after 117-day stay
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