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Day 1- Getting to the Hotel…

August 7, 2011

We’ve finally arrived! I’m afraid I did not document our journey from Narita Airport to the Hotel as I was trying to figure out how the hell to get to the Hotel ^-^…

There will be a post later about the train system (as chaotic as it seems on the surface, there is a system) but for now here’s a little tour of the area around our hotel.



We chose to stay at the ‘Sakura Hotel Hatagaya’ ( for it’s location, amenities and…well, really just because it was cheap. It’s only (2) stops away from Shinjuku station which is a major hub for a lot of trains BUT it happens to be on a PRIVATE TRAIN LINE (more on that in the ‘Train’ post).



While it was cheap, we got what we paid for…a 6X10 box. But it was clean and who comes to Tokyo to lounge about in a hotel room? There was a little scare when the AC unit wasn’t kicking on (it was a balmy 90% humidity and in the upper 80’s) but FINALLY kicked in.



Oops…after kicking on the AC, saw this flyer beside the TV…there was a lot of concern of the conditions in Japan after the earthquake/tsunami (is it radioactive? are there food supplies?) but aside from some posters advertising to conserve electricity everything seemed to be normal! (As if I’m an expert on what a ‘normal’ Tokyo looks like…)



Hmmm…maybe there were some effects of the radioactive leaks…the newscasters are a little odd here… ^-^



First (and last) breakfast we would have at the hotel. It wasn’t BAD tasting but…I mean, it’s toast. With jam. And soup. Yes, soup. The cup to the left. (Truth be told, soup and toast for brekkie was mighty tasty…I knock it now but in retrospect I should re-visit this strange phenomenon…)



After some much needed sleep, here’s the immediate area around the hotel. As you can see, there are NO sidewalks here. (Sorry, 18 inches of blocked off space is not a sidewalk.) Believe it or not this is a 2-WAY STREET. Cars, bikes, pedestrians, trucks, Vespa’s, you name it. Yet somehow it all…worked. There was no yelling, no honking horns, nobody getting splattered by a moving van. Everyone seemed to just maneuver around one-another. No road rage. No middle fingers. No clipped elbows. It would be the first of many encounters of…’controlled chaos’ on this trip…



No idea.



Nice little park near the hotel. Reeeeally noisy cicada’s. People always talk about how quite ‘nature’ is compared to the city but after you factor in the squawking birds and noisy bugs I think it’s kind of a wash…many would argue, I’m sure ;)



  No littering? No cats in the park? Did McGruff get penalized and is now working the traffic beat?



Has anyone ever met a pigeon that would refuse food…maybe it’s an anti-drug ad? Pigeons ‘just say no’ to crack?



The first (of maaaany) vending machines. Probably in the top 3 things I miss most about Japan @-@



Didn’t try the Dragonball drink, but I DID try the Cola-Up. Well, Shiloh actually tried it first followed by a very nasty, distasteful face. Turns out it contains a substance called ‘futte-futte jeril’ which means ‘shake-it, shake-it jelly.’ You’re suppose to shake vigorously so when you drink you get all these little smooshed-up jelly bits–creating a carbonated jelly drink! I thought it was tasty but Shiloh begs to differ… ^-^



A house.



A public fire extinguisher on the side of the road. Judging by the condition not sure if it works but seemed pretty cool…saw several of them in the Hatagaya area but didn’t see them elsewhere…ummm…are fire’s an issue near our hotel…*gulp*…



So the Japanese apparently clean their clothes like Westerners. It’s not so foreign here after all ;) Actually, when Portuguese explorers and Jesuit priests came to Japan in the early 16th century the Japanese were horrified that the Portuguese would not bath everyday (most people from the West only bathed once a month, sometimes going several months) as even in the early 16th century the Japanese valued cleanliness and hygiene.



A $3.80 apple. Not nearly as expensive as…



…a $12.50 melon.



While I was a fan of the Cola-Up, not so much this one. A sort of carbonated bubble-gum drink. Shiloh liked.



Meant to pick up some treatsies for Maki but kinda’ forgot @-@…

First Onigiri of the trip. Onigiri is a rice ball (or triangle) covered by a sheet of crunchy seaweed and a yummy center filled with anything from ume plum, tuna, salmon, etc. Onigiri dates back in Japan to the Nara period (around 8th century) where rolled-up balls of rice were served as a quick meal. It’s popularity continued through the ages and seaweed would be added in the middle of the Edo period (around 18th century-ish). This one wasn’t too good as the seaweed wasn’t separated from the rice so it was all soggy…bleck.

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