Hotels and Trains in Japan

Apart from food, drinks and sightseeing (although limited to 新宿 Shinjuku only), I don’t think there’s any other interesting things that I can talk about from my maiden Japan trip.

Maybe I can talk about the hotels that I stayed in, and the train rides that I took. Yeah, I guess I’ll do that today..

HOTELS:

I was in Japan for one week, I stayed in 東京 Tokyo for a night, then 福岛 Fukushima for 2 nights, and then Tokyo again for another night. So I got to experience hotels in a big city, and a not-so-big city.

I already told you in the previous post that my hotel in Tokyo was the super expensive Century Southern Tower Hotel in Shinjuku (close to ¥ 30 000 per night).

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Strangely, I could not find any pictures of the hotel room’s interior. I think what happened was, when I arrived for that first night, I was too tired and somehow forgot to take photos of the room while I did all the other things. Then when I came back from Fukushima to stay here for another night, I thought that I had already taken photos on my first night’s stay here, so I did not bother to take photos again.

I remember that my rooms in this hotel were the size of a typical double bed hotel room in Malaysia, which is uncharacteristically huge for Tokyo’s standards. I remember the marble floor of the bathroom was very nice. Unfortunately, I have no photos to back up these memories. The only photos that I have that were taken from inside the hotel, are these 2 photos of the views OUTSIDE the hotel.

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Day time view of the Shinjuku Train Station

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Night time view of Takashimaya Times Square

My hotel in Fukushima on the other hand, I do have a bit more photos taken. Just a little bit more though..

The hotel is called the Richmond Hotel, or Richmondo Hotel if you are Japanese. It is located right beside Fukushima’s 新幹線 Shinkansen (bullet train) station.

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Richmondo Hotel

The rates here are much cheaper compared to Tokyo (of course!). It was ¥ 9 600 (RM 320/US$ 100) per night to stay here. Of course, the room was also much smaller.

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The room

Actually, if you are not rich, this is the typical room size that you should expect from a hotel in Japan. Enough space for a bed, a bit of leg room, and not much else.

I quite like their magnetic door signs. It is much better than those paper signs that you have to hang on the door handle. These look neater.

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Magnetic door sign

I also particularly like the toilets of Japanese hotels..

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Small toilet

Well, not exactly the toilet, but a gadget that you can find in the toilet..

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Heated seat and Bidet controller

I firmly believe that the heated seat and bidet controller is one of the most important, if not the most important invention that the Japanese have ever made. Do you know how important this gadget is? It ensures that every morning when you wake up and want to take a dump you can do so on a warm and comfortable toilet seat, and after you are done you can get a thoroughly clean asshole.

I hope the Americans can adopt this technology in their toilets. You know, I love the States. I can envision myself living there one day. But their toilet seats are something that I irrevocably loathe. It is cold in the States, sometimes bloody cold, the same applies to their toilet seats in the morning. Many a times I woke up wanting to take a dump, but the moment I sat down on the toilet seat, everything shrank back up the hole. You need to experience this yourself to be able to understand how frustrating that can be!

If you paid attention, you would notice that there were quite a bit of snow left sticking on the ground outside the hotel. Yes, the week that I was there, it snowed much more in Fukushima than in Tokyo.

It was my first experience with snow sticking to the ground. You see, I have experienced winter in the States before, in Colorado. But Colorado is kind of funny in that, even during winter, the weather can fluctuate like nobody’s business. One day is super cold, the next day could be warm and sunny. So the snow that I have encountered never stayed for very long.

Here though…

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You get this,

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And this.

That’s two layers of snow. The white layer on top was fresh from yesterday, and the dirty layer at the bottom was from the day before or older.

It was here that I learned that not only are Japanese men indomitable in drinking, they are also very good with walking on ice. I mean, when I stepped onto the icy pavement, it felt very slippery and I had to walk very slowly and carefully to avoid falling face down. Then I saw a few Japanese men walking behind me and quickly overtaking me. It was as if they were just walking on a plain surface!

Maybe it is something to do with their shoes. Their shoes are probably special. Yeah, that must be it..

TRAINS:

The Metro system in Tokyo is nothing like the train systems in KL. Wait, it should be the other way round. The train systems in KL are nothing like the Metro system in Tokyo.

In Tokyo, there are probably a million different train lines connecting the various places all over this megalopolis. Okay, I probably have exaggerated on this. What I mean is that, at any given train station, there is always at least one other train station within walking distance. Sounds confusing? Then let me rephrase. What I mean is that, you can basically get to anywhere in Tokyo by train, without having to take a connecting bus or taxi.

And they are super punctual. On the rare case that the train is late, you can actually get a ticket from the train company to show to your boss as proof that you did not arrive to work late intentionally. How cool is that?

As a traveler, the first thing that I think you need to do when you arrive in Tokyo is to purchase the Suica card at the airport. The Suica card is basically a reload-able prepaid card that you can use for any train lines within Tokyo. In fact, certain konbini (convenience stores) accept payments using the Suica card too.

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Buy the card and load a bunch of yens in it, then you can avoid queuing up for tickets and then communicating with non-English speaking cashiers all the time. When you are leaving Tokyo, there are vending machines in the airports where you can drop the card off and get a refund of the balance remaining in the card. Or you can screw the vending machine and carry the card home with you as a souvenir, like me.

When I was in Tokyo, I traveled exclusively on the 山手线 Yamanote Line (Yaa-Maa-No-Tey, not Yam A Note. Don’t laugh, I heard a white man pronounced it this way!). It is the main train line in Tokyo and it is the only one that goes in a loop. This means that if you fell asleep in a train then tough luck on you, because there would be no one to wake you up at the last station, because there is no last station!

I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to experience taking the train at peak hours..

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This… is not it.

The picture was taken in 五反田 Gotanda station at 3.30PM. It was off-peak hours..

If you take the train at 6.00PM though, it looks nothing like the picture. In fact, it was impossible for me to whip my camera out to take pictures. We were basically packed like sardines on the platform. When the (equally packed) train arrived, there would be people alighting, and then we would just have to squeeze our way in as much as possible. If you have seen videos of those Pushers in Tokyo train stations, yes they really do exist!

When you have finally made it into a train successfully, there is no need for you to hold on to anything. Even if the train ride would be twisty and bumpy, there is absolutely no risk of you falling face down. In fact, it will be so packed that there is absolutely no risk of you being able to move at all. And if (for guys) your hand is somehow placed on a girl’s butt or breasts then, lucky you, because there is nothing that the girl can do about it. Of course, for girls then, poor you. I think this is the single most damning reason why the 痴漢 chikan (groping) culture is so rampant in Tokyo. And no, my hand was not somehow placed on a butt or breasts, it was rhetorical.

To go back and forth between Tokyo and Fukushima, I took the 新幹線 Shinkansen (bullet train). This was one of the highlight of my trip. Yes!!

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The train is pretty, isn’t it?

Actually, there is nothing much to talk about the journey. We were going (for most parts) at over 300 kilometers per hour, but when you are sitting inside the train, it actually didn’t feel very fast at all. In fact, it felt like we were going at 80 kilometers per hour! Throughout the journey from Tokyo to Fukushima, I actually thought: “Man, this sucks! The train seems so slow, this is so very disappointing, man!”

I only realized how fast we were actually going when we arrived at Fukushima. How did I figure that out? Well, the distance from Tokyo to Fukushima is almost 200 kilometers, something like KL to Ipoh. We made 5 stops on the way. And guess how long all that took? Slightly more than 1 hour!

Of course, the price is not exactly cheap…

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In case you cannot see it clearly, it says 東京 (Tokyo) -> 福岛 (Fukushima), and it also says ¥ 8 190. Yup, it costs more than RM 250/US$ 80 to travel 200 kilometers on a bullet train. Usually, people (even the Japanese) would take the bus for long distance travels within Japan.

The perks of traveling on business… what more can I say?


Gosh, I’ve written so much today. Didn’t expect that to be honest. Anyway, I have nothing more to talk about for my Japan trip. Let me end my Japan series properly..

これに一件落着 Kore ni Ikken Rakuchaku

ikken rakuchaku

32 Comments

  1. Sounds like you stayed in some pretty nice places. I would love to try one of these Japanese toilets, they sound amazing! Did they have them in every place you stayed?

    • They are standard feature in hotels and probably most homes. I’m not sure about the toilets in other buildings though.

  2. Haha “I firmly believe that the heated seat and bidet controller is one of the most important, if not the most important invention that the Japanese have ever made.” I agree too!!! There’s nothing quite like a heated seat on a cold winter’s day. When we go back to the States, I seriously want to buy a Toto.

    Btw, if you’ve never seen a Shinkansen fly past you at full speed, I highly recommend it. It’s both chilling and extraordinary.

    • Hahaha, you do that! And hopefully introduce it to a few more people and spread the trend, then the next time I travel to the States, I can get heated seats too! 😀

      I’ve thought of watching a Shinkansen fly by, but I was traveling for work and I had to stay inside the cities. This would definitely be on my agenda when I travel there again for vacation!

  3. Yes, the toilet bowl fascinated me too… not icy cold especially when one sits on it in the morning.. they really know how to make one comfortable even during toilet sitting time. hahahaa… Rooms are expensive, yes, I heard… can go up to 1K per night for a moderate nice one.. but the one you showed above also looks comfy… as long as it is clean.. it will do!

    • Yup, to me, cleanliness is the most important aspect for a hotel too.

      The one I stayed in Tokyo, the one without internal photos, that one was 1K per night!

  4. I have to say, I love the Japanese bath tub style more than the western one. So syiok to sit in the tib and get immersed in water.

    • Really? I didn’t feel the difference. But then, I never use the bathtub that way. I am the standing shower type of guy. 🙂

      • Rugila… Hahaha

        Should do total immersion. Do what Japanese do, when mandi. LOL

        Actually, it’s good and relaxing too. Plus no need la everyday look for sento/onsen, rite? 😉

        • Well, you have a valid point there.. 🙂

          Hahaha, onsen is also something that I did not experience yet!

  5. The title of your post sounds plain and mundane but the content sure wasn’t! It’s like looking at a piece of plain looking cake and not being impressed but after taking a bite, wow! you wallop two slices 😀 I love that story about the toilet and bidet hee..hee…

    • Hahaha, seriously? I thought my cake (I mean story) was really plain, even the content. 😀

        • Well, the description from books are mostly accurate. The bullet train IS really fast! It is just that we don’t feel it when sitting inside it. And I think that’s a good thing. It would be horrible if you spend an hour or two feeling like you’re strapped into a roller coaster or something! 😀

  6. Come to think of it, the bullet train isn’t that fast. I know of someone who can drive from KL to Ipoh in 1+ hour too…LOL!! 😀 On the cold toilet seats (and trying to put all your graphic details out of my mind :D), that’s why the Americans use furry, woolly toilet seat covers, eh?

    • LOL that kind is illegal driving and non stop! Bullet train is legal way lah! 😀

      I don’t know Americans use furry toilet seats leh! How to clean it frequently? 😐

  7. When I read your post, and then scroll to the bidet, then I remember the bidet !! Call me jakun but the time I went, here no ‘hing’ electronic bidet, so we were like jakun.. Can control temperature, the seat hot or cold, and then adjust to wash down there, whether poo or pee, really canggih..haha..

    • I don’t think even now, the electronic bidet thing is common here. And that temperature control is definitely not “hing” here. Actually we don’t need temperature control for our toilet seats here, since it is so warm most of the time hahaha! But I would love the electronic bidet..

    • It’s not a joke, it’s something that I really heard a white man said at the train station! 😀

  8. Yes, I agree, toilet with heated seats are the best! Next is cars with heated seat especially on cold winter days.

    The bullet train really gives us a comfortable and fast journey. I like the ride very much.

    You have outdone yourself I think. This is one of the longest post you have written and so descriptive too. Very good! When you are old, you can reread this post about your trip to Japan.

    • I didn’t realize it. I was planning on just a little bit of descriptions but I kept on typing and typing and when I was done, I realized the word count was almost 2000!

      I didn’t drive in Japan so I didn’t think about it, but yes, heated car seats are great too! 😀

  9. wah.. nice hotel!!! i still remember the dodgy hotel i stayed when i was in Tokyo, hahaha!!! certainly just 1-star if compared to yours, OMG.. and did you realise (or maybe just me??) the hotel toilets are actually quite the same layout?? me and friends actually suspect the toilets comes in ready set that they just assembled into the room like lego.. :p

    • I only stayed in 2 hotels, so I can’t compare that. The one in Tokyo is I think quite luxurious, different than the one in Fukushima which I think is quite standard.

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