I had no intention of going to Japan. I asked Little Miss Rayong (LMR) if she had some time off work would she like to do something together. I thought she would say something like, Go to Siam Paragon shopping. Or at the very worst she would want to go to Phuket. But no she said Japan.
I thought about it, and Japan is always somewhere I always wanted to go, so I told her to get some time off work and a passport and ill do the rest.
This was my first time to Japan, so I planned to do a few tourist things. When I say planned I mean I sent an email to my travel agent in New Zealand and she did it all. I may have an interesting job but genetically I’m a lazy prick. I’m about as lazy as the guy that designed the Japanese Flag. One red dot on the page and that dude knocked off for the day.
After many years of travelling I have my flight day routine down pat. I can go from being in bed to shit showered, shaved and packed within 30 mins. But this was going to be LMR first time overseas. As such she was up at 0230am for a 0845am flight. And because she was awake by default I had to be awake to answer her crazy questions.
“Will there be food on the plane”? Yes babe there will be food on the plane.
“ Are there toilets on the plane”? Yes babe there are toilets on the plane.
“Does the pilot know where to go”? I fucken hope so babe!!!
Because we were up so early we were at the airport and cleared of customs with a whopping 2 and a half hours to kill. After wondering around aimlessly for a while we decided to get a foot massage. But after spending 800 Baht each for a one-hour massage I ended up more stressed than when I started.
We were flying Japan Airlines (JAL). The plane was only one third full. The in flight service was punctual and friendly, and the meals and entertainment systems were all what you would expect.
LMR got fed on the plane, she got to use the toilet and thankfully the pilot knew where he was going so we landed at Tokyo Airport about six and a half hours later.
We took a taxi to our hotel and that’s where comparisons with Thailand started.
The driver was an elderly gentleman dressed in a suit and tie with white gloves. He got out of the taxi grabbed our bags and placed them into the trunk of the taxi. He then opened the door for you with an automated leave and closed it behind you. He asked exactly where we wanted to go and punched the location into the onboard GPS. The screen was angled so the passenger could watch their progress so their was no deviating off course to a “brother’s jewelry store”. At the end of the trip you received a printed receipt and had your bags placed on the side walk at your feet.
Oh and the guy in the Driver ID was actually the guy driving the taxi.
We had pulled up outside “B” Hotel in Roppongi. “B” Hotel was a chain of hotels with locations all over Japan.
We were efficiently checked in and shown to our room. The rooms were spotlessly clean and well appointed with modern fixtures. However it was small, but then apparently everything in Japan is small, just ask the girls at Barracudas.
The best thing about the room was the space age digital toilet. It looked like a bloody X-box. It had buttons to raise and lower the seat. Buttons to turn on mood lighting. Buttons to gently warm the seat and even more buttons to wash your arse after you finished doing number 2’s. Every morning I would set the sprayer to “fanny douche” and let it gently massage my balls for 10 minutes. What a great way to start the day.
After we settled in it was time to go exploring.
Roppongi has had a bit of a checkered past. From what I understand it mean “6 trees”, but someone chopped three trees down and allied bombing took care of the other three.
Post WW2 Roppongi became a bit of a red light district. But with the Asian Economic down turn in the late 80’s saw many of bars and clubs closed down.
Today it is the embassy district of Tokyo same same Wireless Road in Bangkok. With embassies come hundreds if not thousands of restaurants/bars.
In days gone by the bars were run by the yakusa, but they have move on to greener pastures in other parts of Tokyo. Unfortunately today Roppongi has it share of African run girlie bars with guys outside doing the hard sell to get you in. To be honest if you need some dude from deepest darkest Africa to try and heavy you into the bar that’s not the kind of place I want to drop some cash. But to their credit once they realized your not interested they more or less left you alone.
The bars I was interested in were the small Japanese ones. When I say small if the place had more than 8-10 patrons they would turn you away because it was too crowded. The bars were generally all wooden with small wooden tables and chairs. Normally they would have a chef working his magic behind a curtain and 1 or 2 service staff. Most the bars we went to were either under ground or on the ground floor. But I’m told bars can be found on the 2nd, 3rd and fourth floors. Neither LMR or I spoke any Japanese but with a bit of finger pointing and lots of nodding we were able to order what we wanted.
Around 6 pm the businessmen from the local area would come in and start hitting the sake. They really seem to enjoy themselves, in fact the would enjoy themselves so much by 10pm you can find guys passed out in the street still in their jacket n tie.
After good nights sleep the next day we were off Dawson Street Market. An area of Tokyo with hundreds of shops stalls, restaurants/bars. LMR brought a 3000 Baht hair clip, the same thing you can get at any improvised stall on the steps of your local BTS in Bangkok for 50 baht…….. then she went to inspect the vast raw fish and seafood stalls. I have no idea what she planned to do with the fish as we were staying in a hotel but I guess coming from Rayong it’s just in her DNA.
The next day we were off to Mount Fuji. Again this was organized back in New Zealand with a company call sunshine tours. It started with a bus tour though Tokyo and out to Mount Fuji. The English-speaking tour guide gave a running commentary during the 2-hour drive. Apparently my hotel is located in the birthplace of Pokémon’s. Which is sort of a blessing in disguise because it also seems to attract young Japanese girls in COS play, but that is another story for another day.
On the way to Fuji, there are a few dog hotels. Japanese love their pets but with restricted living space in the capital it isn’t practical to own a dog. So on the outskirts of Tokyo are these “Dog Hotels” where you can book in and “rent” a dog to play with and take care of for the duration of your stay. Further down the road are cat cafes, where you can book in and rent a pussy to play with…….a bit like Nantree Massage Parlor. But Nurse Ron will have to confirm that one.
Mount Fuji is 12,365 feet above sea level apparently it’s easy to remember because there are 12 months in a year and 365 days of the year, but I still had to write it down.
Mount Fuji has 10 stations along the route to the top, however we only drove to the 5th station. At the 5th station were hundreds of locals ready to make the 6-hour pilgrimage to the summit. Mainly made up of Tokyoiens (I just made that word up) they’re all dressed in their brand new brightly colored climbing kit. Apparently, in days gone by it was forbidden for woman to climb the iconic mountain however many years ago two brave souls cut their hair and climbed to the summit, but this isn’t mentioned in the local history books. The first recognized female to climb the scared mountain was the wife of the British ambassador in 1867.
Her name was Lady Fanny……Bloody Farangs!
At station 5 they let you out of the bus for about 40 mins to spend your hard earned cash on Mount Fuji souvenirs. Mount Fuji Photos, Mount Fuji Paintings, Mount Fuji fans and Mount Fuji key rings were all on sale. But the best souvenir and a piece of marketing genius was a genuine 1foot piece of Mount Fuji wood. The genius lies in the fact that they want you to buy another 12,364 genuine 1 foot pieces of Mount Fuji wood so if you laid them end-to-end it would reach the summit. Bloody genius, I’m sure there is some American somewhere that has done just that. LMR walked out with 2 key rings, her mom and sister will be chuffed to bits.
It’s a good thing they sell photos of Mount Fuji because it’s kind of hard to take a photo of a mountain when you’re on the mountain.
After coming down from Fuji we all stopped at some hotel for lunch then on to some boat for a lake cruise. The cruise concluded at a gondola that went 500 meters up the side of a mountain. However the weather starts to close in, so by the time we reached the summit we were only able to see 2 meters in front of our faces. The guide told us, there was a Shinto Shine about 100 meters further along the mountain range. Most of the other guests stayed safely in the lookout staring at each other, while LMR and myself, who were sick of looking at each other set off on a rough bearing to find the shine. Sporadically the cloud would clear enough to allow us to find the ancient building, but all to soon it would close in and it was time to try and found our way back to the rest of the group.
Back down the mountain to the waiting busses, it was a chance to get some shuteye on the bus ride back to Tokyo.
Back at the hotel it was time to get a quick ball massage on the X Box toilet and then into town for food and booze. We went into one of the underground BBQ places were we ate nearly everything on the menu….well nearly everything.
LMR tells me she thinks she likes sake, so I ordered her a bottle, and after half a sip LMR found out she doesn’t like sake at all. I also found out mixing cold beer and left over sake together gets you shit face at a phenomenal rate. Having discovered the next big thing in alcoholism I spent the rest of the night moonwalk in and out of bars around the Tokyo nightlife area.
Once I get in the zone I’m not to shy about sticking anything down my neck. I do remember seeing a helpless snake trapped in a bottle and did my best to drink the poor fellow free. But the satanic liquor he was trapped in got the better of me despite my best efforts.
Wondering around Roppongi I found this place, but being a gentleman and being so drunk I think I shit myself I didn’t go in..……maybe a second visit is required.
We spend the next few days finding shopping malls, parks and food halls. We had a great time and found the best way to travel was on the underground train system. When looking at the map it can seem quite daunting but each track is colour coded and there are enough English signs to make your way around the city.
We left Tokyo via the新幹線 or Shinkansen or famous bullet train. The sleek lined spotlessly clean trains left regularly from Tokyo to Osaka. The carriages we separated into reserved and no reserved depending on what ticket you brought. Either way the seats are spacious and comfortable, with access to power points and Wi-Fi for your laptop etc. The average speed was around 270 kph but this was hard to judge, as the ride was so smooth. It isn’t until you travel beside a highway that you are screaming past cars doing 80kph as if they are standing still.
Japan has started the planning of a new railway system where you will be teleported along at a staggering 500 kph to your destination. Its still 10 years away but I can’t wait t ride it.
In just over 2 hours, we had completed the best train ride I have ever been on. We pulled in to the Osaka Central Train Station ready for the next leg of our exciting Japanese experience.
To be continued…