Airport and Hotel

Well it was after an 11 hour flight from London that we finally touched down in Japan, and also the first opportunity for me to take some pictures. For whatever reason the camera remained in my bag on the British side, perhaps because I thought the Japan holiday doesn't actually start until I set foot there. Note the baggage handler guy beneath the plane. Uniforms play a big part in Japanese culture, it helps unite the workforce to a common goal. Unlike in the West where we put ourselves before the company we work for, in Japan it's the other way around. It's not that they're particularly proud of who they work for but to put your company in a bad light is a big no-no!

In Tokyo, a lot of the signage is written in both the Japanese and English languages. This was the first indication that getting about wasn't going to be that difficult in what looked like being an extremely complicated city.

Tokyo's public transport is amazing and used a great deal by it's citizens. We're quite a car dependant country, America even more so, but this is not the case in Tokyo. Even so it was nice to see a large computerised board indicating the state of the road network around the airport to aid those people brave enough to use the roads. A simple idea that can work in any city but I've only ever seen here.

Leaving the airport it was strange to see the porters bow our coach off. I knew that bowing was very common in Japan but I always thought it was the equivalent of a handshake, that is to say, something that took place between two people. But here it was being used as a replacement to waving a crowd of people off. Quite odd.

En route to the airport the first impression I had was that I could see where the roads in the Ridge Racer video games came from with high walls on either side to deflect the sound away from the residential areas we were driving through. It also became quite obvious that the Japanese people liked their big wheels as we passed several on just this road alone.

We passed Odaiba which is a man-made island off the mainland that has become an Entertainment hub with TV companies and Nightlife based here. Sega Joypolis is situated here so I knew that later in the week we'd be getting a closer look at the buildings and that weird one in particular with the sphere, which is actually part of the Fuji companies offices.

In fact some of the architecture was quite odd, avoiding the norm of utilising rectangular structures. I had no idea what this building was but it made me wonder if something did happen to it and it's people needed to evacuate quickly could they just exit the left-hand-side and slide down it?

After about an hour we made it to our hotel, the Miyako Raddisson in Shirokanedai, situated in the South West of the city. The hotel was perhaps one of the best hotels I've ever stayed at and I think it took the staff and other guests by surprise to see 100+ Westerners staying in there. The purple mini bus was a free shuttle to Shinagawa, one of the major stations nearby. Those that wanted to travel further afield could either utilise the brightly coloured taxi like the one in the foreground or the Tokyo Metro a 5 minute walk away.

Here's the view from the hotel room window overlooking some of the buildings in the area. There are a large number of temples in the area but they're lost in amongst the high rise and more modern developments around them. We knew that the weather had been overcast for a few days before we flew out. The day we landed the southern islands were being hit with Typhoons which is why the sky was greyer than expected.

The room was the standard hotel apart from 2 main differences. The first, which I failed to get a picture of was that we had 5 different pillows on our bed; some were soft, some firm, and one was full of a much heavier filling. This final pillow was good for the spine but also for twatting the room mate around the head if he snored.

The other difference was of course the super toilet that we had in our bathroom. Japan is very strange in that it has both the worst and best toilets in the world. Whilst I wasn't looking forward to the joys of a squat toilet, I could wait to give these super-toilets a go; something that some of my friends were too scared to even attempt. Funnily enough the buttons only work when you're sitting on the toilet so you can't test them to see what they do first. Pressing them you hope that there is nothing too masochistic hidden behind one of the options. As it turns out this model was fine, with water jet and spray options. You could also vary the pressure of both. Elsewhere in the hotel I came across a toilet that also included a massage option. Oh, and for the females out there who hate seeing the toilet seat up, that and the lid automatically close if the toilet is left unattended for a length of time.

Before venturing out in the city for the first time, I chose to spend a bit of time taking in the hotel grounds. This hotel was noted for it's classic Japanese garden with quite large grounds to explore. It contained a few waterfalls beside which to relax, although there were some odd cricket type noises reverberating amongst the plantlife that bothered me somewhat and spoiled the peace. Maybe if I had got used to them I'd have appreciated the solace the gardens offered more.

The garden also had a few statues of religious significance to reflect at. The garden featured a large hill and I was curious to find out what lay at the top, however the overgrown gardens made it impossible for me to get there, not without soaking my clothes on the way, that is. With the garden explored as much as I could, it was time to venture beyond the hotel grounds.

I first heard of Pocari sweat about 20 years ago when Clive James used to have a regular series reporting on his travels in Japan, and I remember the next day at school having debates with classmates about whether or not they really drank sweat in Japan. I had a list of things that I wanted to do whilst in Japan, trying some Pocari Sweat was one of them. Actually, as it turned out, the drink is just a lemon variant. The reference to sweat being that it quenches the thirst and replaces the lost nutrients exercise takes out of you; much like lucozade back home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The triangular builing by Odaiba is a comsetics company. The insects making noise in the garden were likely cicadas.

4:33 AM  

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