JICA… nice

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #90: I don’t usually act very stressed or concerned about anything, but that’s usually because everything goes according to a set of expected outcomes. In my mind, there are plans for every little thing that shouldn’t even be relevant. I’m not a big fan of surprises. It’s most probably a control issue or a desire for security and stability, but I think everyone has some level of this obsession. I mention this because booking a full week in Jica was the best decision I could have made to relieve stress. Homelessness in the middle of a foreign country with little-to-no means of communication seems to put a damper on my sight-seeing enjoyment. In the back of my mind, I keep worrying about my clothes, laptop, and luggage like a mother worries about her teenage daughter’s love life – I really wanted to put up surveillance cameras and hire undercover investigators (In my experience, most Moms are psychotically protective CIA Moms).

The moment I stepped foot into the lobby, I knew I had walked into a five star hotel straight from a brochure. I saw chuckling groups of diverse ethnic backgrounds in congregations around a reception desk. The generically cute Japanese girl wearing her well-ironed uniform at the reception desk spoke perfect English while maintaining a flawless smile. There wasn’t even a pause to swallow excess saliva or any form of lip movements to interrupt her pearly whites. She did it so well that she could have been a ventriloquist, or a robot (This oddly made me attracted to her). The entrance was complete with the photoshopped insertion of a businessman reading a newspaper near the futuristically tacky furniture in the lobby. I couldn’t tell the difference between this view and a poster made by an architect to show their finished product.

The receptionist’s welcome was warm and chewy. I felt important, but it didn’t seem like a forceful act. She made casual conversation through her genuine interest while finishing all the paperwork and keeping eye contact – it was a textbook execution. Her form amazed me and I wished I could have tipped her for the excellent service. This is the Japanese mentality that I respect most – a pride in their job and overall helpfulness. I remember much earlier in the trip, I was trying to make a phone call with a calling card to the Erics. I couldn’t figure out what the telephone error was, so I walked into a hotel and asked the reception desk for assistance. The guy literally abandoned his station, walked me to the nearest phone, and dialed the number for me – waiting until I was satisfied with the answer.
I’m not sure if this treatment was for foreigners, but I’ve only had these positive experiences with talking to employees of any company. Everyone is just so accommodating. I feel like someone could definitely take advantage of this kindness.
The hotel interior design was so simple and shiny. My single room was huge compared to any place in Manhattan and I was only paying $35 a day for a full week stay. I had my own twin size bed, large desk, drawers, in-room internet access, and bathroom. This was my bachelor pad. The balcony overlooked a lake and the TV provided me with unlimited crazy Japanese game shows. Unfortunately, Jica is a little secluded from the rest of the city life, but there are frequent buses that stop at major stations and locations for the doctors and international students that mainly live there.
Before you leave, free breakfast with all the cherry tomatoes you can eat is also provided. I love you, cherry tomatoes.
As with all of my stays, I wandered around the building like it was a museum. The floor plans mapped in my mind so I could find my way around in case of emergencies. Besides having really spacious rooms, this international housing area had three pool tables, a volleyball/basketball court, two tennis courts, a piano, karaoke rooms, and two ping pong tables. There were designated times for all events, like a ping pong day and hour. Every hallway was decorated with some type of artifact from around the world like it was all for historical display.
One very important thing about the stay is its midnight curfew, which I broke almost every night.
They expect you to return every night so you have to notify the front desk when you plan to sleep somewhere else. I’m not going to lie – it felt really good telling someone where I was as if they actually cared. It gave me a taste of home that had been missing in my past 3 months living independently. I think the staff actually sleeps in their offices because I walked in at 3AM and someone was there to greet me with my room key. This place made me feel safe. I was very impressed. I wouldn’t mind living here as a rental for a year.
~See Lemons Really Lucky

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photo by: yasuyo