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Our Final Full Day in Japan

Tokyo Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 10 › view all entries


We were on our final day and excited because we had quite the day planned, unfortunately it ended up being sort of a bust, but I am getting ahead of myself.  We had decided that we would head out to Odawara where we could take a tram to see Mt. Fuji.  Well, it was fine when we left, but when we got there, it was cloudy and overcast.  We stepped out of the train station and looked out to where Fuji was supposed to be.  There was nothing but fog.  Hmm, this was not going as planned.

 

So, we decided to see if the rains would pass in an hour and went into the local Starbucks to grab a coffee.

Dewy Flower
  I found that the soy latte was quite unique and delicious and is only available in Japan from what I have seen.  It has no sugar, just coffee and soy milk.  When you order it, they give you a sign that you have to give to the barista to make sure that you get the right drink as people have allergies to soy.  Brilliant! 

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to write as we stayed in the city for a couple hours hoping for a miracle that never happened.  Though in the Starbucks I dropped my change three times and each time this nice guy from Europe helped me pick it up before I dropped it again (not on purpose).  I think I was possessed for a few moments. 

 

We also saw the honor system in place yet again in Japan.  The guy next to us left his laptop and briefcase next to us while he disappeared for 10 minutes.

Utsunomiya
  He didn’t even think twice!  Really it is amazing how things work in Japan.  People don’t think about stealing, because, people don’t do it!  Also, I have to admit, I have never felt so safe in my entire life in the US or anywhere else.  I saw women wearing the shortest skirts, drunk going home in the middle of the night; nobody looked twice.  Seriously, I think you could sleep on a park bench and not have a problem if you truly had to.  Amazing!

 

After two hours, we decided it was time to head back to Tokyo as nothing was going to happen here.  The odd thing was that I ended up running into someone I had worked with from my previous job.  Yes, I ran in to someone I knew in a remote area outside of Tokyo that I hadn’t seen for four months!  How does this happen?  It was strange for sure, but he was always a nice guy, unlike some of the other people I had worked with, so I was glad to see him!

 

Because it was pouring in Tokyo after we returned we didn’t really get to see too much though we had the best waffles on earth and met a Japanese guy who spoke to us for a good 20 minutes about the US and Japan.

Monkey Waiter Restaurant
  It was an odd conversation and one I don’t really want to get into depth with, but this day was just getting weirder and weirder.

 

Our main goal of the night was to see the Monkey Waiters in Utsunomiya as we had seen a video if them on CNN from a few years back online.  This was something we had been looking forward to for weeks.  The restaurant has two monkeys that bring you hand towels and beer, you tip them with a soy bean and go on with your meal.  We were told the fixed dinner was 25.00 Yen, which was kind of spendy, but well worth it in our view.

 

Finding this place is difficult and even with a map.  We ended up walking it and it took us well over an hour.  Other diners that night had taken a taxi and it took a lot less time. The map made it look closer!  The place is run by a couple and a friend who comes to help out when busy.  At first we were the only people there, but soon three other groups showed up.

Table Cooker
  I was surprised to see that everyone was from the US, Britain or Australia.  On the video, it had been mostly locals.  I began to get the feeling that things weren’t quite like they used to be and started to feel uneasy.

 

The owners are very nice people and even with limited English make you feel at ease, but for me this ended up not being the best experience.  The meal was now 35.00 Yen and though there is a lot of food, most of it was not the best.  It was very fatty meats, including pork, beef and chicken skin stir fried at your table.  There also was soup, dumplings and a salad.  The dumplings were amazing and salad was good, though later on I watched one of the baby monkeys play with some of the food before it was taken out of the box to be chopped up.  Not cleanly. 

 

All the tables were wondering where the monkey waiters were as they were the main focus.

Baby Monkeys
  They eventually did show up in the form of two babies that were being trained to be future waiters.  Next the adults were brought out one wearing a creepy mask before being forced to perform in a monkey show.  Yes, in the middle of dinner there is a half an hour monkey show.  I don’t want to get into details, but it was uncomfortable in parts and a few of us discussed this privately in a corner as we felt it wasn’t quite right.

 

You do get to have photos taken with the monkeys and the owners are very courteous and really want to make sure you have a great time.  The problem is that the format has changed from what it originally was and not in a good way.  People just wanted to see the monkeys and have their photo taken while being handed a hand towel by one of them.  But now it had become a circus and to me somewhat exploitive.  If you want more information, please feel free to email me, especially if you are planning on going.

 

We ended up taking a cab back to the train station with another couple and in the end, we agreed, though mostly the females that we weren’t very comfortable and the price was a bit outrageous.

Creepy Mask
  If I had to make the choice again, I would have saved that money for a decent sushi meal in Tokyo rather than go to see these poor monkeys. 

 

So, unfortunately the day was like a bad Twilight Zone episode, but one out of nine is pretty good odds.  Besides I had more birthday cake waiting for me at the hotel.  Making the celebration now 3 days! 




binky says:
People can leave me a message. The blog is long enough! :) I don't want to go in detail here, most probably wouldn't even care, but I am a fan of animals and wasn't happy.
Posted on: Jun 07, 2010
B-Town says:
E-mail you? Ha, what's up w/that? Could you elaborate a bit more on the creepiness HERE please ;-) E-mail? C'mon Bink, you don't even have an e-mail listed on your profile?
Posted on: Jun 02, 2010
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Sashimi
Sashimi
Dewy Flower
Dewy Flower
Utsunomiya
Utsunomiya
Monkey Waiter Restaurant
Monkey Waiter Restaurant
Table Cooker
Table Cooker
Baby Monkeys
Baby Monkeys
Creepy Mask
Creepy Mask
Noah and the Monkey.  They Prefer …
Noah and the Monkey. They Prefer…
Monkey Show...
Monkey Show...
Eating a Banana
Eating a Banana
Tokyo
photo by: maka77