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Love Hotels: Disneylands for Adults
Favorite thing: 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!
- Arts and Culture
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Favorite thing: there are many cute japanese girls in tokyo! When you walk down the streets of Japan, especially in a large city like Tokyo, you see girls dressed in things westerners would never wear. Flamboyant colors and shoes so high you wonder how they can stand! But to many of these girls it is the little things that make the biggest difference. What is "kawaii?" Many westerners translate it as simply, "cute." But it is much, much more. Kawaii is more then a fashion statement - Kawaii is a lifestyle, and an attitude!!!
Fondest memory: although Japanese school girls are forced to wear their uniforms to school, they have, of course, found ways to make them cute. They accessorize with precise little bows at the collar, and awesome loose socks that have to be glued into place. Combine this with the cute little sailor uniforms and maybe a headband and pigtails, and it's no wonder men in Japan often have desire for schoolgirls.
- Budget Travel
Arigatou to all Japanese!!!
Favorite thing: Japanese are such an amazing people. They like to smile at people, willing to help and are very accomodating. So in appreciation to these wonderful traits they have, try to learn to say "Arigatou" (thank you) and believe me, it will make someone's day.
- Road Trip
Quaint Lanes and Alleyways
Favorite thing: When you wander around in Tokyo, you will come across some quaint lanes and alleyways. This street, named Sushiya Street near Asakusa Temple, has a festive air about it, so I couldn't resist and took a shot.
As you can see, it was decorated in pretty colours and teeming with people.
Fondest memory: What makes it all Special:
The best thing about Tokyo is wandering around & making little discoveries of your own.
Don't worry about getting lost- set out on foot, explore and you'll be sure to discover little treasures or meet new friends in the form of people and places. Part of the whole experience that makes Tokyo special, what you might discover, away from the commercial or shopping districts-whether it is a quaint shop which sells paper fans, or a chance encounter with a proud store owner, or a picture of young mother wheeling her baby in a stroller.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Take a Shower in Japan!!!?
Favorite thing: One of my favorite things about Japan is taking a shower there. I've never noticed these things in other places, so it is worth mentioning...
Their water is soooooooooooooo fabulous!!! What does this mean?!?
It's very hard to explain, but I would say, to me, it is the softest and wettest water in the world!!! I mean, that when you take a shower there, although there is fabulous water pressure, you cannot feel the water hitting you. It is that soft... It is so beautiful!!! It is hard to imagine if you've never tried it, or thought of it...
Another thing -- if you have very soft hair -- like me, some of your hair may fall out in a regular shower. In Japan, my hair does NOT come out at all -- and it even starts to show a little curl, too!
- Study Abroad
Catching a sight of Japanese wedding
Fondest memory: If you are lucky, you will happen to see a sight of traditional Japanese wedding in some place like a shrine as seen in the photo I added. The photo was taken in Meiji Jingu when I pay a visit one ordinary weekend with my family.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Loving cherry bloosoms in springtime
Favorite thing: If you happen to come to Tokyo in springtime, you may expect to view the whole town is totally colored in pink with cherry blossoms.
We Japanese people really love to view the cherry blossoms and to have a HANAMI party under a blooming tree.
Cherrys in Tokyo bloom fully between the last week of March and the second week of April. Don't miss it!!!
- Family Travel
Tiny food stalls
Favorite thing: There are foodstalls and tiny shops and stalls in lanes and alleys. The one pictured was at Shinjuku, near the Shinjuku station and Times Square area. The stalls look rather traditional to my untrained eyes...and make for a good photo opportunity.
Juxtoposed with the traditional are the young Japanese guys, with punky yellow hair, and one is speaking on the handphone.
- Family Travel
Umbrellas to Your Face Hurt :)!
Favorite thing: When searching for the word musuem I came out at Shibuya station and it had just begun to rain. I have brought my umbrella but I was late in deploying it, but the locals used to the July rainy season had the jump on me and I was scratched a few times with umbrellas. Also with the locals, especially the women, being slightly shorter than I and the people I was travelling with, we had to hold our umbrellas usually higher to get through the crowds. Just a warning, there are umbrellas werewhere in Japan, even on bright sunny days!
Fondest memory: When it rains it... showers. Compared to what I'm used to Japan's rain is pretty light, but it just might have been the period I was there I'm sure its worse than that usually.
Probably the nicest people I've met yet...
Favorite thing: Japanese people are outrageously kind. They will go out of your way to help you, even if you don't speak a word of Japanese, and they don't speak a word of English. A couple years back I went to visit my ex-boyfriend in Sasebo, and we were driving somewhere, and this guy came up on his motor scooter and spent about ten minutes trying to make us understand that one of my friend's tail lights were out. Most places you go, people won't tell you that, and if they do and realize you have no idea what they're saying, they'll quit trying to help. I am undeniably impressed with how kind and generous the Japanese are. Except the chick who's sleeping with my ex-boyfriend. She's a little too kind and generous. I'd be happy if she fell off the face of the planet. Or accidentally lost her chin. What guy wants to kiss a girl with no chin, anyway?
Smoker ? no problem !
Favorite thing: In tokyo we found the solution to the smoking problem. There are special smoker corners.
This one is in the Akihabara district, on the Chuo- dori.
As we don´t smoke, we didn´t go in. But still i think it is a good solution, smoking where no one has a problem with it.
Fondest memory: I don't know what they are selling. One thing I know they are very professional to strike a post and smile when they saw my camera. By the way, I think most Japanese are professional and serious to their job, regardless of job rank.
Fondest memory: Although there are te most talk-about high tech toilet in Tokyo, some public places (especially train station) still maintain old squat toilets. Most of them are clean and provide toilet paper, although there is exceptions.
In The Train
Fondest memory: This is a common scene you'll see when you get in a train a Tokyo... Everybody, no matter they are checking phone mail, sleeping, reading book, or just sitting down there, everyone have no facial experssion, no smile, and no talk. I felt uncomfortable with this in the first few days. Then I found myself started to fall into the same stereotype thereafter...
Fondest memory: I do not understand Pachinko... and why people spend few hours sitting down there looking at the machine. My friend told me this is a kind of gambling, one can exchange for money, charlolate, biscuits, toys, etc with the metal balls.
This one is located in Koiwa, a suburb small town. Most shops closed at 8-9pm, while this 2 storey Pachinko still open and fully packed with customers, amazing!
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