Impressions of Tokyo

Debbie and I have ordered beef yakiniku at a Japanese restaurant at home, it is beef served with sesame sauce and rice. Yakiniku is just the way the meat is cooked, basically it is a Japanese BBQ. Last night we headed to a restaurant whose specialty is BBQ. It would seem by the menu, Japan and North America could have a symbiotic relationship over the use of an animal for food. The Japanese would use all the ‘innards’ and the ‘muscle’ part would be shipped to NA. The menu of most restaurants here is posted in large pictorial displays on the exterior. Some are pictures only, some have Japanese characters and some include prices. There are even a few with English attached. Thankfully the place we headed to last night had English appended on each item. The wall sized menu included exactly one item Debbie and I would have eaten. The wording is descriptive enough that we instantly knew what we were about to get into. “Beef, pork and chicken innards with rice” is one of the translations. There were 20 plus other choices none of which I would even venture to try. The one thing I would have eaten was I believe noted as “sirloin” and I think that meant the part of the cow Canadians mostly indulge in. We went for sushi!


We survived our first earth quake last night. Our room is on the 5th floor of a small hotel. It is 5am and the Ring of Fire lives up to its reputation, the building starts to shake, but only for a few seconds. Either we have a Sumo wrestler in the room next door or the ground is moving. I’m going with the latter.


Tokyo is turning out to be quite tourist friendly. We have a paper map but there are so many streets it is not possible to include all the detail on a reasonable sized sheet of paper. We wander about following the map and just when we are about to get lost there on the edge of the sidewalk is a map of the immediate area. As we have only wandered about for one day I cannot say if this standard throughout the city but it did help greatly on yesterday’s walk about.


When reserving a room in this hotel we thought we might jump with both feet into the Japanese experience. We book a Japanese style room. 6 tatami mats in size, plus a little extra for good measure. The futons are in a closet. Staying here is much like camping at home only you do not have blow up the mattress. Each night we move the ‘living area’ to the side of the room and lay out the bedding. Climb onto a rock hard futon and voila, sleep. Although we soft westerners had to get a second mattress just to soften the substrate.


The Japanese are a bit anal about the bathroom experience. Having a bath is quite ceremonial, we are looking forward to visiting a couple of onsens. What is an immediately evident is the difference in the make up of what a toilet consists of. How about heated seats. Maybe the living spaces are cold here but other than outhouses I haven’t found that to be a problem. Here there is a dial on the edge of the seat so you can set the temperature. Then there is the ‘rear wash’. A jet is strategically situated so when the water valve is turned on you can eliminate the use of toilet paper. Only thing is your butt is dripping and it makes for uncomfortable underwear. I’ll keep you updated on any other toilet innovations I run across.

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