Welcome to Tokyo
Tokyo Travel Blog› entry 1 of 9 › view all entries
Jeff met me at the airport. I'm so glad, because there is simply no way I could have figured out the mass transit to here, even without jetlag. Their public transportation system is soooooooo confusing. About a dozen "metro" lines, a few train lines, some private lines, a monorail.....the maps looks like a plate of very colorful spaghetti.
Plus, of course, you can't count on seeing things in the alphabet you know and love.
No one should ever complain to me about the DC metro system again.
We're in a 1-bedroom corporate apartment. I was afraid, given what I've heard about Japanese living space, that it would be unbelievably tiny. It's not. It's a decent-sized one-bedroom apartment. The kitchen is pretty small but so are the ones we've looked at in DC! We overlook a highway and train line but you can't hear any street noise. Thank goodness for thick windows!
The neighborhood (Shinigawa, for those of you who know) is mostly tall commercial buildings and tight residential areas. Not much here to excite anyone but we're a short walk to Jeff's office and 3 blocks from a major metro/train station.
Jeff and I walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner last night -- Italian. Yep, my first meal in
Hey, today I ate lunch at TGI Fridays. Yeah, I know, I'm being a food wuss.
Though I did go to a grocery store this morning to stock up the kitchen a bit. People were not kidding about food prices! Fruit (apples, oranges) are sold by the individual piece and are $1 - $2 each. A small container of concord grapes (one "stalk") was $5. The small basket I had, which wasn't even completely full, came to about $45.
I wandered the aisles very slowly since I couldn't even figure out what half the items in the store were. I *think* I picked up a bottle of dish soap. I'll find out tonight. Couldn't find mayo anywhere. I'm pretty sure the carton was milk, though I don't know what kind.
And, believe it or not, the only tea I could find was Celestial Seasonings! Harrumph.
The biggest source of amazement in the past 24 hours has been the bathrooms. First, the toilet seat in our apartment is heated. I know guys that would *never* leave the bathroom if the toilet seat was heated!
Plus, there's a panel on the wall next to it with all kinds of, ah, "fountain" options. Yes, you can get a warmed stream of water aimed at your tushie while you're on the toilet. Multiple settings, you choose the pressure and oscillation.
And, of course, I wouldn't be a proper American tourist if I didn't try them all!
While I was walking the neighborhood this afternoon, I found myself in need of a bathroom. Several guidebooks had mentioned the availability of public bathrooms and mentioned that you can usually use them in restaurants and pubs, etc. I, however, couldn't find any of those! So I ducked into a large hotel.
Once I got into the bathroom, however, I discovered several things that suprised me.
1. There was a line. Good heavens, in the middle of a Monday, off a distant corner of a large hotel, it just seems wrong!
2. There was a line because there were only 2 stalls. Ah, that explains it.
3. They were squat toilets. That means no "seat". That means a (porcelain-lined) hole in the floor.
Thank heavens for learning how to pee in the woods as a child! I'm a little out of practice but I made do. I presume I'll get better with practice. :)
I just kept thinking "good Lord, what if my mom (with her bad knees, bad back, and dependence on a walker) had to do this?".
The other big adjustment here is size -- mine. I am taller than every single woman I've seen so far. Anywhere from 2-6 inches. I'm the same height or maybe 1-2 inches taller than about half the men I've seen. The few Japanese men I've seen taller than me are only a few inches taller than me.
Plus, I've only seen one woman with hair as short as mine. Virtually every woman's hair is at least shoulder-length. I've also only seen one woman with hair as *white* as mine.
I get some looks. Not blatantly but I definitely get some looks. I suspect it's my hair more than my height. In the
Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the metro on my own and start some honest-to-God sightseeing. I will also try to find a good massage therapist to hook up with in the next few days. I should be sending another e-mail your way in a 2-3 days.