An added bonus of getting to see my son (who has lived in Japan for three years) was the surprising abundance of warm toilet seats everywhere we went on our twelve day trip there this holiday. Why don’t we have these in America? It was unexpected but not surprising that The Narita Airport Radisoon had them, but was a welcome “touch” in restrooms all across Tokyo.
We left the Radisson and took the shuttle (stuck in downtown traffic over an hour) to Tokyo train station. Hungry, I used the Japanese that I had learned (to please my son) to get us a table at a small restaurant. I knew enought to do that but when the waiter spoke back in Japanese, I had to say, Watashi wa Nihonga wakari masen -(I don’t understand Japanese). He told me “Two minutes” and gestured for us to stow our luggage near the cashier’s desk. I didn’t see my husband and son-in-law point to pizza and try to hand gesture that he and I and my daughter and son-in-law would share 2 pizzas, but I wasn’t surprised when he placed 4 on the table. We laughed and ate, retrieved our luggage and bought tickets to Tachikawa. Again I used my Japanese to find out which platform we needed to be at for the train (densha) to Tachikawa. The ticket agent understood and said “1 and 2” right away. We took the correct one on platform 1 instead of the local on 2. Our son met us in Tachikawa. A seven minute walk took us to the Toyoko Inn and we checked in for five nights.
Mornings at the inn included free breakfast which consisted of rice with seaweed, lettuce salad, curry rice, sometimes pork balls, eggs scrambled with mayonaise, rice with vegetables, cabbage. miso soup, and more rice. It was a basic workingman’s breakfast and we ate with chopsticks as there were no other utensils provided.
Day trips during our stay there included Yokohama Port, Chinatown, The Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, the Taiko (drum) museum, Ginza (like Beverly Hills) and The Anime District in Akiba. The temples and shrines get crowded on New Years as the Japanese flock to them on that day to pray. Although the massive Kaminari-mon (gate) was swarming with people taking pictures it was not the most crowded we had been. On an early train ride the next day, we were forced to stand and hold on. We watched in horror, though, as more and more people got on at every stop until the doors wouldn’t close anymore. We were totally squished for three more stops until a lot of people got off at Shinjuku, the busiest train station in the world.
This sushi was a highlight for me because two of my characters in my book, Something Fishy in Manhattan, shared one on a date. They made it with no extra effort at the Sushi restaurant, although it took a little longer than the other orders. Stupid good.
You can’t miss magnificent Mt. Fuji but I declined the cable car the others took up the side to get a better view. I shopped at the chalet village. Another great trek is to Nikko where the national treasure “real” shrines and temples are. We completed our meditation started there with an hour at an onesin (hot spring bath) – warm and clothes-free but gender separated. We are a close family, but not quite that much. Sorry, no pictures.
A little karaoke, some great restaurants found with the help of the hotel concierge, a trip to Shibuya to see the Hachi dog statue ( heart-melting movie with Richard Gere) and numerous sumptuous buffets and our trip was almost over. We spent the last day viewing our son’s acting accomplishments on Japanese TV and had steaks at Cowboy Family (sort of a Japanese Hoss’s). It was a memorable trip. but I don’t think anyone will forget the warm toilet seats. Again, why don’t we have these in America? This recent cold snap begs for them.
Something Fishy in Manhattan by JB Clemmens is available at Amazon. I wrote it before I went to Japan, but I found the customs to be as written.