Disembarking the aircraft and making our way through Arrivals was fairly quick and efficient, and soon we found the Azamara Club Cruises rep and joined three other couples from our flight for the bus to the hotel, which they told us was about 1½ hour’s travel away. In Japan, they drive on the left as we do in Britain, and we looked out of the bus window with interest as we made our way through the Saturday lunchtime traffic to the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel.
The hotel was huge, with a massive marble-floored lobby. As we walked to the reception desk, we were greeted by bowing and smiling hotel staff. It didn’t take long to check in, which was just as well because we were feeling very tired and longing for a lie-down.
We were allocated room 2520 on the fifth floor and as we made our way to the lifts I stopped to go to the toilet. Now I have to take some time here to describe the toilets in Japan, because they’re unlike any you’ll see anywhere else. When you go into the cubicle the lid of the toilet comes up automatically, then when you sit down, you’ll find yourself on a heated toilet seat, with a control panel where you can choose what music you want to listen to. Then, when you’ve finished doing what you need to do, you can choose to have either your ‘front’ or ‘back’ gently washed with warm or cool water, you can choose the water pressure and whether you want the spray to be plain, oscillated or pulsed. Then, you can sit and have everything ‘blow dried’.
As soon as you stand up, the toilet will automatically flush and the lid goes back down again. I think it is the only time in my life I have ever taken photos of a toilet! 😊
Room 2520 was fairly plainly decorated, but clean and comfortable with a pleasant 5th floor view from a small balcony over trees and landscaped gardens. We decided to have a nap first, then go out and explore our immediate surroundings afterwards.
We set the alarm for an hour’s time, then thankfully collapsed onto the bed for a power nap. When the alarm went off all too soon, we forced ourselves to get up to try to adapt to the new time zone as closely as possible. We then thought we’d go out and stretch our legs.
Walking back through the hotel foyer we were met with the usual bowing and smiling staff, then we went outside into the warm afternoon sunshine. We were not in the main city centre of Tokyo, but rather on the outskirts, where it was not so busy and frenetic. Most of the buildings surrounding us were hotels and office blocks, with here and there some shops, bars and restaurants.
We opted to go into a nearby bar and have ourselves a Japanese beer. We each ordered a cold pint of Kirin, and sat on a terrace table opposite our hotel, and drank our beer in a glassy-eyed, semi-somnolent state. The beers were quite expensive at £7.85 a glass so, after we’d finished, we decided to go further down the road where we’d seen another bar advertising “Happy Hour” from 5.00-7.00pm where we could also get something to eat.
The downstairs basement bar was called the “Outback Bar and Grill” and was an Australian-themed steak bar. We each ordered another Kirin beer and I chose a Caesar salad with steak (instead of the usual chicken) while Trevor had a delicious-looking steak focaccia. We stayed for another beer each, then decided to take a slow walk back to the hotel and relax in our room for the evening. When we came out of the bar about 6.50pm, we were slightly surprised to see it was already dark.
Back in our hotel we saw that they had a “7-11” general store, so we went in and bought a bottle of prosecco to enjoy up in our room. We saw several bottles of wine or liquor that just had Japanese writing on the bottle and I was quite tempted to buy one and see what we ended up with, a sort of “Russian Roulette”. 😊
Last Monday, to get in the mood for all things Japanese, I decided to re-watch the movie Lost in Translation. This is one of my favourite films and stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as two fellow American ‘lost souls’ in Tokyo, and it highlights some of the cultural differences as well as having a slightly comical aspect. Already, during our short time in Japan, I had seen several things that reminded me of scenes from the film; the smiling, bowing hotel staff, the disembodied Japanese voices spouting robotic gobbledegook in the toilets and in the lifts and the bottles of Suntory Whisky in the shop.
The Lost in Translation theme continued back in our hotel room, where Trevor quickly zapped through the various TV channels, all of which seemed to be showing Japanese game shows, their presenters yammering away in an over-enthusiastic manner. There appeared to be no English-language programmes at all, but after all, the cultural differences are exactly why we go on holiday to places like Japan, Nepal, Ecuador and Brazil, to name but a few.
I got washed and changed into my PJs, and enjoyed a couple of glasses of prosecco while reading some of my magazines. I was trying to keep my eyes open as long as possible, but I really was fighting a losing battle, and I settled down before 9.00pm and was out like a light.