The night after the parks was spent around the hotel area. A lot of the group were going off to Namba based on our reviews of the previous night. Not wanting to go there again I chose to see what was on the hotel doorstep. The hotels were really really good and probably amongst the best I've stayed in. As a souvenir I bought one of the hotel kimono style bathrobes.

A nice touch from the hotel was the welcome message that was waiting for us in each room. They did everything they could to make our stay enjoyable and asked the organisers after the trip if they could have done anything else. I don't think they could have. Admittedly we had spent a lot of money on the hotels but the level of customer service was extremely high, and I don't think it mattered how much had been spent.

Across the street was a Pachinko parlour, which is the most common gambling game in Japan. The aim of game is to steer ball bearings into scoring holes in a vertical style pinball game. Score enough and you win more ballbearings. To get around the legality of gambling in Japan there is no money on site and you can trade the ballbearings in for a crap gift which you then trade for cash at a booth nearby. I did try playing a game but I was rubbish and the machines made far too much noise for my liking. How people can sit and play this for a length of time I have no idea, and judging by the stacks of trays of ballbearings some players had accumulated they must have been there for a while.

One of the myths that I had of Japan was that Western culture hadn't made much in roads into it. Unfortunately the fast food chains had. I knew McDonalds were there, but it was surprising to see Colonel Saunders in Japan too. Did I see what they had in their bargain buckets here? Of course not, I went elsewhere.

I ended up trying a Bento Box, with a selection of sushi and other Japanese delicacies. I bought it from a 7-11 type place about a mile from the hotel (that's how far I walked). When I gave it to the teller she asked something in Japan, which I'd guessed meant "do you want this heated". I'd guessed this by the wall of microwaves behind her. My guess was right! So I hurried back to the hotel to eat it. Very nice it was too.

It was a big day for Japan that day as the nation was at the polls to vote a new Prime Minister. Similar to the UK the vote using a proportional representation system to elect their members. The election led to a landslide victory to Koizumi's LDP, with the party winning 296 seats, the largest share in postwar Japanese politics.

The trip was taking a bit of a weird turn from this hotel. Our luggage was going to travel to a later hotel whilst we went off elsewhere, so for a couple of days we were travelling light.


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