Love Hotels: Disneylands for Adults
The Love Hotel is a Japanese institution, where harried lovers find alone time away from gossiping office colleagues or crowded multi-generational homes with paper-thin walls. To attract patrons away from traditional hotels, love hotels boast "funky" rooms: costumes for rent, appliances, cool electronics, karaoke and even slot machines! Most Japanese don't consider them seedy or untoward, like Americans would a "no-tell motel," but as a normal part of life. Sex in Japan does not carry the religious opprobrium that it does many western cultures. In fact, sexuality is an acceptable part of human behavior; though, like everything Japanese, is handled in a discrete and understated manner. Sex and sexuality are neither flaunted nor suppressed: sexuality is tempered and expressed only where appropriate. In fact, most of the couples we saw were young, attractive (though a bit rumpled) and not at all shy about being seen going to or fro (though there is a system of discretion in place to protect those people having affairs.) It was evident who the love hotel patrons were--going in they were the ones holding hands (public displays of affection are rare in Japan,) going out they were the ones taming disheveled hair.
....We were inspired to try a Love Hotel after a friend gave us a book about these Japanese "institutions." Seeking adult adventure, we headed off to Shibuya, where the largest cluster of love hotels is located. We exited the JR station at the Hachiko portal (named after the famous dog) and headed up Dogenzaku Street, which was supposedly the love hotel district. At first, we saw nothing out of the ordinary. Hordes of Japanese consumers walking by shops, hair salons and restaurants, but no love hotels. Then, near the top of the hill, we spied neon lights and gaudy colors seeping out of a narrow alley.
...."Let's check up there!"
....We crossed the street and headed up the alley, hand-in hand. Sure enough, it was our first love hotel! We had never seen one before, so we stood in gaping wonder for a while at the over-the-top lighting, rainbow of colors and mish-mash of architecture -- Disney meets neo-greek revival. We wandered around the back alleys a little bit more, stopped for a glass of wine, then made our choice from among the many hotels we had seen. Would it be the Cassanova, La Festa, Le Pays Bas, Laurel (named after the Maryland town?), le Caribe, Beat Wave? Sure, it was a lot like judging a book by it's cover, but it was time to decide.
....Drum roll please....
....We chose the "Neo-Cosmo" hotel because it offered fun costumes--considering that here we are, for the first time in our relationship, a child-free couple, we get our own private "love hotel" every night in Japan. To get our business, a love hotel needs to offer more than a bed. This seemed to be an interesting place, so we entered the lobby where we confronted a whole wall displaying photographs of the rooms. The lighted display indicated an unoccupied room, the darkened rooms were taken--about half the hotel seemed full even though it was only about 7 pm. We chose our room based on a picture and a price tag, then pushed the button beneath it before going over to an automated machine that spit out a ticket. The elevator took us to up and we found room 203, where we received a phone call from the desk . It was only because we couldn't speak Japanese that a person actually had to come by to explain the pricing to us. We checked out the room: the aforementioned slot machine, a plasma TV, karaoke, a vending machine full of sexual aids, a refrigerator full of non-alcoholic drinks, and lots of bathing cosmetics in our small tacky-bright cubby. We paged through a menu of costumes. Janet tried to convey my considerable concern when she asked me, "Um, does Hello Kitty turn you on?"
"No!" I was insistent.
...."Good," she sighed in relief. The cutesy Japanese fetishes were just not very alluring: Hello Kitty, Sch00l-Girl, Dominatrix, to name just a few. Even in Love Hotels, Japan is obsessed with cute!
....Being that the rest of the accoutrements were not holding my attention, I focused on turning off that damn Celine Dion crap that was being piped in to the room. I dove across the bed to find the controls, disturbing the sheets in the process, which brought to our attention something even more disturbing: Hairs in our bed! This was so out of place in otherwise fastidious Japan, we were stunned. Upon further inspection we found that most of the bed was "contaminated."
....With almost no discussion, we rose to our feet, put our coats on, and were back out in the streets in 10 minutes. (Well, except that Janet forgot her French silk scarf, so I had to go back in to retrieve it...).
....We'll try this again, but maybe not at such a cheap place!
A red & white...
A red & white version of the Eiffel Tower, you can have a superb panoramic of te city, unless you climb up on a foggy day (yes, that's what we did, don't remind me!).
It was built in 1958 30 feet higher than Eiffel Tower, but 3000 tons lighter due to advancements in steel manufacturing and construction technology. On a clear day, you can see Mt.Fuji and Mt.Tsukuba. Tokyo Tower broadcasts all 9 of Japan's television stations and 5 FM radio stations. Cameras on the tower also monitor city traffic.
Narita International Airport
it serves as the gateway to tokyo and the nearby Kanto Plain. Haneda Airport in Downtown tokyo serves mainly as a domestic terminal and as international terminal to flights from south korea and china. Narita Airport has two separate terminals with separate underground train stations. Connection between the terminals is by shuttle bus (buses are available both inside and outside the security area) and trains; there is no pedestrian connection.
At present, Narita Airport has two rail connections, operated by Keisei Electric Railway and JR East. A third line, the Narita Rapid Railway, is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2010. Trains to and from Narita stop at Narita Airport Station in Terminal 1 and Airport Terminal 2 Station in Terminal 2.
Website: www.narita-airport.jp.eng Transporation to/from Narita Airport
JR Narita Express (NEX)
About 3000 yen, 60 minutes to central Tokyo. Departures every 30-60 minutes
The Narita Express is a fast and comfortable airport train into central Tokyo (serving Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro Stations), the Tokyo Tama region, Yokohama and Saitama. All seats are reserved. Thanks to the NEX & Suica package, the Narita Express can also be a relatively economical airport access option.
JR Sobu Line (Rapid Service)
About 1300 yen, 85 minutes to central Tokyo.Departures every 60 minutes
The Rapid Sobu Line is the inexpensive JR alternative to the Narita Express, connecting the airport with Tokyo Station and Yokohama. The Rapid Sobu Line is a normal commuter train, which stops at several stations between the airport and Tokyo and can become crowded during rush hours. Seat reservations are not possible.
About 2000 yen, 60 minutes to central Tokyo. Departures every 40 minutes
The Keisei Skyliner connects the airport with Ueno Station in central Tokyo. It is a comfortable train for travelers to and from the airport. All seats are reserved.
Keisei Limited Express
About 1000 yen, 75 minutes to central Tokyo. Departures every 20 minutes
The inexpensive alternative to the Keisei Skyliner, the Keisei Limited Express is the cheapest way to get from the airport into Tokyo. It is a normal commuter train, which stops at several stations between the airport and Tokyo and can become crowded during rush hours. Seat reservations are not possible.
About 3000 yen, 60-90 minutes to central Tokyo
Several bus companies offer connections to various places in the Tokyo area and neighboring prefectures, including direct connections to major hotels.
About 20,000 yen, 60-90 minutes to central Tokyo
Because Narita Airport is located about 60 km outside of Tokyo, a taxi ride into central Tokyo is very expensive and not recommended to common travelers.
Sushi need no introduction as it is now world famous that sushi restaurants are spread around the globe but again here's a brief introduction. Originally, The current version of sushi was sushi is fermented fish (with vinegar) and rice, preserved with salt but the contemporary version, internationally known as "sushi," was invented by Hanaya Yohei at the end of Edo period in Edo (tokyo). The sushi invented by Hanaya was an early form of fast food that was not fermented (therefore prepared quickly) and could be eaten with one's hands. This version now uses fresh ingredients and fish instead of fermenting it. Now sushi has evolved into many kinds. Yuo should try the original japanese sushi in japan! During the Edo period, "sushi" refered to pickled fish conserved in vinegar. Nowadays sushi can be defined as a dish containing rice which has been prepared with sushi vinegar. There are many different types of sushi. Some popular ones are:
Small rice balls with fish, shellfish, etc. on top. There are countless varieties of nigirizushi, some of the most common ones being tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg.
Small cups made of sushi rice and dried seaweed filled with seafood, etc. There are countless varieties of gunkanzushi, some of the most common ones being sea urchin and various kinds of fish eggs.
Sushi rice and seafood, etc. rolled in dried seaweed sheets. There are countless varieties of sushi rolls differing in ingredients and thickness. Sushi rolls prepared "inside out" are very popular outside of Japan, but rarely found in Japan.
Temakizushi (literally: hand rolls) are cones made of nori seaweed and filled with sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.
ohizushi is pressed sushi, in which the fish is pressed onto the sushi rice in a wooden box. The picture shows trout oshizushi in form of a popular ekiben (train station lunch box).
Inarizushi is a simple and inexpensive type of sushi, in which sushi rice is filled into aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags.
Chirashizushi is a dish in which seafood, mushroom and vegetables are spread over sushi rice. It can resemble domburi with the difference being that chirashizushi uses sushi rice while domburi uses regular, unseasoned rice.
If you come to Japan for a few weeks you may not get a true understanding of the Japanese mentality but if you come from the Europe and the West and stay here for longer you will see that Japanese people tend to think a little differently here...
A few observations from me;
1/ Japanese people in general do not travel abroad and if they do it will usually be to places that other Japanese people are... e.g Hawaii or Guam. The Japanese people I met that have travelled seem more down to earth and globally aware to me..
2/ In general Japanese people are very organised and like to do things in a set way or routine
3/ It is considered rude to eat whilst walking along or generally in public places - not that it stopped me!
4/ I sometimes got the feeling that rules here are to be obeyed and not questioned as to the reason...
5/ Shoes should be removed and slippers worn in homes and other establishments
6/ Any complaint or confrontation is better made through a third party...
7/ Rubbish is sorted into many different criteria - cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, combustable, non combustables blah blah blah
8/ The work ethic here is still alive and well. The younger generation may be changing that.. Kids still have to go to school followed by cram school and then homework which explains why many are asleep at school and not actually learning anything!
9/ Women often open the door for men here and enter afterwards rather than before - in contrast to the West... Not sure what happens if a ship is sinking, maybe Id get to get off 1st for a change!
10/ Japanese people can be afraid to make a mistake in public. Many may be not bad at all at speaking English but not confident to try
11/ Tokyo is not multicultural compared to many cities in the world (for example - London) and there is a debate as to whether there are higher levels of racism here - there is certainly some..
12/ Karaoke is a great stress reliever - try it sometime!
13/ Someone asked me if I could wear less deodorant once!