Friday, October 24, 2008

Japan, I Bloody Love You! - part one

Well it was either that or, "the Happiest Place on Earth", but that was already taken. My time in Japan was super short, but oh so sweet. First of all, let me give you a perfect example of why I adore this place. On my JAL flight from the States, my cabin crew went through the usual safety demonstration. Like a good girl, I read through the accompanying leaflet for further instructions. Not only was the safety video demonstrated in anime, but the leaflet was drawn in this manner too. It is amazing just how comforting and amusing it is to watch an anime man smoking in the toilets, then being covered in fire foam and a large red cross over his image. Somehow, it seems like a much more pleasant way to ask you to refrain from smoking than the usual, "Punishable by law" routine. The JAL cabin crew themselves were so beautifully groomed and well spoken, that by contrast the Qantas staff and their unflattering uniforms, (sorry people), seemed quite rough around the edges, and made me feel as though I had been downgraded for the flight home.

Anyway, I thought I was well prepared for my journey. The Mr had given me his copy of the subway maps, and explained how to work the system. I had booked my accommodation in Asakusa (thanks Hayley for the tip!), and it appeared to be only three train stops from the airport. So here I was thinking, "Perfect. I have quite a bit of luggage but it won't be far. I'll just jump on the train and walk across the road to the hotel." When I arrived however, it was dark and raining so I thought I'd cheat and take a cab. When I asked the cab driver for a price I was told it would be about $200 US dollars! What? Were cabs really that expensive here? So I dragged myself along to the information counter only to discover that what looked like a quick jaunt of three train stops, was actually a trip that took over one hour to complete! So it was onto the Limousine bus for $25 dollars with fingers crossed I could find my hotel.

Eventually I was to be found wandering a taxi rank at Tokyo station, hauling two suitcases (about 45 kilos worth) a hat box and a handbag, being soaked to the skin by the rain, but still smiling. I was in Japan! When I did eventually find myself a taxi, my poor cab driver was quite unclear about where I was going. Note to self: next time take the directions IN JAPANESE! I did have a minor moment of anxiety in the backseat, picturing myself sleeping under a self made lean to of suitcases while my prepaid hotel bed went empty. After arriving at the wrong hotel, it turned out that my taxi driver thought I must have the wrong hotel name. I had booked into the OAK hotel, (a hostel style accommodation as I was trying to save every penny for my shopping oddesy), but the driver had taken me to the Oakura Hotel as he thought I looked like I couldn't possibly be going to a hostel. But of course, like all good concierges at 5 star hotels, this one spoke some English and was able to assist with directions and sort out the misunderstanding. In hindsight, some very funny stuff.

Tired and happy

A wall to wall shot of the room. Small but perfect.

So after all that adventure I was delighted with my little room complete with kimono and tea making kit. It didn't even matter that the bathroom was the same size of that on the plane. I was here, and so I settled in to sleep the sleep of the jet lagged, and dream of Hello Kitty.


Fashion Hayley said...

I need more. lol.
Narita Airport is like a 2 hour drive from Tokyo, that's why the price was so high for the taxi. The train is the fastest at only 1 hour, but eh I know how you feel at the end of a long flight, you just want to relax. Anyway you got to your hotel yay. I hope you loved Asakusa, the temple is so beautiful yeah? Ohhh can't wait till part two.

Anonymous said...

I too have spent some wonderful time in Japan so I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it, its such an amazing place. Your room looks lovely for a hostel, its probably about the same size as the more expensive place! As for your taxi fare, I can beat you on that one, I paid $700 for a taxi-ride (I still can't say that without shedding a small tear).

Gladis said...

Ohhh!! Caught in the rain and everything, and you didn't let it sour the experience, good for you.

next time... a stylish umbrella!


zeghsy said...

hello kitty dreams are never bad dreams. :)

Kim said...

I stayed at Hotel Okura when I was in Tokyo. Their staff (as you found) ROCKS. So wonderfully helpful.

We flew Singapore Airlines and let me tell you, they were also wonderful. The crew were dressed so beautifully we actually *wanted* their uniforms for ourselves!

Am jealous though, I would LOVE to go back to Japan.

a cat of impossible colour said...

I love reading about your travels :) and am hugely envious that you went to Japan. It sounds lovely! (Apart from the rain. But even that was Japanese rain, which makes it exciting).

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an adventure! But you got there ( and well done by the way!) and thats the main thing.

Loving reading about your travel adventures and I love the pic from the previous post with your online pals - you wear cats eye sunnies so well :)

Super Kawaii Mama said...

Fashion Hayley: even though I spent so little time there, I have so much to tell. Part two is on its way this weekend.
Cybill: I hope that $700 was the result of an emergency and not an exchange rate miscalculation!
Gladis: I didn't have the spare hands for an umbrella anyway. Perhaps a stylish poncho??
Zeghsy: They are my favorite kind.
Kim: Yes, Singapore airlines are also fantastic. The JAL staff had these cute aprons that they wore for serving and they were for sale in the on board catalogue. Yes, I was tempted to buy one too.
A Cat of impossible colour: You're right, even the rain was good. travelling often makes for rose coloured glasses in those situations. I'm already planning my next trip, even if it has to be a few years off.
Porcelain blonde: Thank you, I picked those sunnies up (reproduction) in a vintage store for $12. I've never worn them before as I thought they were a bit too cliche, but they are fun. They got a lot of stares on the street in Japan too.

enc said...

What an adventure!

And what a lovely room.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you buy in Japan.

miss cavendish said...

You are so brave to drive about in a taxi after dark, in the rain, in a new country, to an unexpected location!

I remember that when I was in Iceland, I became ill and had to go the the ER at about 5:00 a.m. My husband spoke "Old Icelandic" really well, which was utterly useless (of course it would be) with our contemporary cabbie. He ended up taking us to a closed hospital and happily announced "Lokked!"(locked)when we arrived.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a jam packed adventure! I always worry that I'll get lost or completely mess everything up so it's good to hear that you made it to your hotel and still looked fabulous!

PS. Thank you for the birthday wishes :)