Saturday, March 13, 2010

River's Weekend in Tokyo - Part I

Recently I went to Japan for a business trip.  My first week of work was in Mito, which is a small city about 1 hour north-east of Tokyo by train. My second week of work was near Niihama, which is on the southern coast of the Huchi-nada sea, a 2 hour flight from Tokyo.
In the intervening weekend I was left to my own devices. The natural place to spend the weekend was Tokyo since I would have to travel through Tokyo to get from one place to the other.

My Japanese colleague, I will call him K-San, set me me up in a very nice hotel in the Shiodom area, which is near the famous Ginza shopping district. The hotel is the Mitsui Garden Hotel, and I would recommend it to anyone.
When K-San dropped me off, he told me to take the Monorail on Monday morning to meet him in Haneda airport so that we can travel to our next work destination. By the way K-San is an  exquisite planner and payed great attention to making my trip easy and enjoyable.
When I checked into the hotel, the desk clerk said: Your room is on the 11th floor, there is a public bathroom on the 13th floor. You can well imagine my momentary panic when I heard this, but after some discussion I realized that he meant a public Japanese traditional bath with steam and hot tubs. My room indeed had a great bathroom.

I spent Saturday morning walking around Tokyo so they would have time to clean my room. My first destination was the Monorail station. My first two attempts to find it failed miserably and I ended up in the wrong parts of town. I got back to the hotel, looked on the map and tried again and got lost again. It turned out the map showed the hotel entrance on the wrong side so I was going in the total opposite direction.

On my fourth try I finally found it. I also found that it was in a huge mall, so I walked around looking for stuff for the kids. In the book store all the Manga comics were sealed. Since many of the Manga’s often have explicit sex cartoons, I did not want to give my son an early education. So I will have to buy it in a store where the book is open so that I can pre-view it. I am sure he will be disappointed to have morally correct comics.

I probably walked 5 miles today being lost. I ended up having lunch back at the hotel even though I looked at the menu of every single restaurant I passed.  Many of the restaurants looked good, but I was not yet up for lunch when I was walking, largely because of the anxiety of being lost. It is a good thing that I packed my sneakers, dress shoes would have been very uncomfortable for all that walking.

I guess I just don’t know why I should go to any outside restaurant. They have everything at the Buffet for just a bit more than I would pay for a single meal outside.
Lunch was about $13, they have both Japanese and Italian food. Or maybe I should say they have Japanese style Italian food; which good, but different.

Here is what I had for lunch:
1)       Pizza  w/Sausage and olive
2)       Pizza with bacon and onion
3)       Gnocci with red sauce with red peppers
4)       Rice and Japanese Curry (I seem to eat this everyday)
5)       Unrecognized vegetable tempura – was good
6)       Unrecognized grilled veggies – was ok, funny taste
7)       Pasta in cream sauce with shitake and wild mushrooms (and other stuff I did not recognize)
8)       French fries
9)       Green salad
10)   Crème Caramel
11)   Small donuts (2)
12)   A small multi-layer Gateaux cube with a strawberry taste
13)   A hazel nut gateaux with fresh crunchy hazelnuts (yes Ellen)
14)   Fresh blood oranges
15)   Orange juice
16)   Grapefruit Juice
17)   Green Tea

Obviously the walking worked up an appetite. Now mind you all the gateaux comes in really small pieces and so does the pizza, so you can try lots of different ones. So it is not as bad as it sounds.
I finished lunch at 2 PM, so I ended up skipping dinner.
I think the Japanese waiters were worried that I was not slowing down because they kept reminding me that they close at 2 PM.
Now I am thinking I want to use the public bath in about an hour.  I don’t know if every body just jumps into a big hot tub or what. It seems like all the Japanese guests are using it because I see them in the elevator in their robes. I will be the only Caucasian there if I go.
Sunday I would try to find the Tokyo Tower on foot...
By the way a hotel room in Japan is always a great experience if the hotel is good and this one was great. The room is small by American standards, but big enough. It contains the following cool stuff:
  1. A full size bed, very comfortable.
  2. A refrigerator
  3. Hot water pot / room humidifier combination. Very clever.
  4. A cartridge espresso machine. This was great, you just push a button and you get a great cup of coffee. River is a caffeine addict.
  5. An automatic pants presser. You basically hang your pants in this and close it, 20 minutes later you have perfectly creased pant. This is great when you are on business because slacks tend to wrinkle fast when you travel.
  6. The most incredible toilet seat that you can imagine. Basically it has a built in, heated self cleaning, bidet.
  7. A bathroom mirror that simply does not fog, no matter how steamy the bathroom gets.
  8. An electronic safe. High speed Internet, and all the usual stuff we are accustomed to in the USA. 
  9. A nice view. I was on the 10th floor.

Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved

No comments: