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..
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
I also particularly like the toilets of Japanese hotels..
Well, not exactly the toilet, but a gadget that you can find in the toilet..
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.
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..
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.
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..
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!!
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…
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