How To Navigate One of the World's Greatest Cities with Big Time Jet Lag
11.03.2012 - 11.03.2012
First & second days: Dick here. Woke up. Climbed out of bed (great bed), looked out the window, surveyed the room strewn with the massive detritus of the newly arrived, found things a bit blurry 'cause my glasses were on the headboard above "my" side of the bed, realized I'd have to walk atop the bed to get to them. Wailed, "I'm already overwhelmed." Room is very handsome, if more than merely a bit on the efficient end of the spectrum. Our organizational skills are quickly resolving the problems of excessive efficiency. Pam's now up, attending to her morning toilette, and our condition should devolve into one of utter chaos momentarily. (Pam: "Where were we keeping dirty laundry?" Me: In a bag in the same drawer as the room safe. [Pam: the ONLY drawer in the room])
I know it's trite, but as with many naive and utterly unprepared first-time visitors to Japan, my initial confrontation with a well appointed Japanese toilet was revelatory. So many buttons to push; so many decisions to make -- "spray," "bidet," "water pressure (+/-"); so many experiences to experience; so many small startling surprises in such a small part of my anatomical geography. And all with a warmed seat. Is this a great country? Or what?
Fell asleep before the end of game 7 of the Japan series -- the Japanese professional baseball championship final. This year it was between the perennial powerhouse Yomiuri Giants (think NY Yankees dominance in the mythology of the sport) of the Central League, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, of the Pacific League. Woke up to learn that Pam had somehow stayed awake until the very end, and could announce that the Giants had won the championship. My first waking words upon hearing this news were, "that means the Giants are indisputably the world champions of baseball this year." (If you don't get it, you could look it up.) You could also look up the Ham Fighters: You would probably learn that these are not baseball players who fight pigs as a second job in the off season, but rather are baseball "Fighters" in the employ of the Nippon Ham company of Hokkaido.
We are awake, now for a second jet-lagged day preceded by too little sleep. We're still performing our Abbott and Costello organizational routine routinely (where is my xyz? in the closet? there is no closet. oh, yeah.) Ubiquitous Starbucks: Coffee drinks that taste the same from London to New York to Seattle to Jakarta, do not taste the same in Tokyo. [Pam: And they don't offer decaf lattes. The ONLY decaf available is brewed coffee.] Sidewalks with strips of high-contrast yellow small bumps and shallow rails grooved into them to assist the blind. Too little space in an otherwise pretty perfect hotel room. No closet. None. No chest of drawers. One minimalist clothes tree. One wall hook supporting three coat hangers. We're here for nearly a month. [Pam: not in Tokyo, we're not.] Even living out of a suitcase is a challenge, as opening even one of our small suitcases takes up much of the room not already dedicated to the bed, desk, one chair, room safe and refrigerator.
The bathroom is an exception to much of the above, the bathtub is deep and essentially full-sized, the toilet seat is wondrously heated, the mirror doesn't fog and, if the hotel only supplied very small rental cats, there would almost be enough room to swing one by the tail. (Pamela has challenged not only my commitment to the humane treatment of animals, but also my choice of metaphor. To which I respond: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?search=room+to+swing+a+cat&title=Special%3ASearch).
Our first day's major event was a long walk to and around the Imperial Palace grounds . . .