Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Day 2, Tokyo: moshimoshi

Twelve and a bit hours later, we step out of the airport. My travelling companion's first words on Japanese soil are unfortunate – an innocent comment about the coldness of the weather, but phrased in such a way that might be construed as A Bit Racist. I point out his gaffe and he is suitably penitent. We're happy to see that no one has heard.

After getting the Narita Express train to Shinjuku (west Tokyo, where we're staying), we have a cigarette outside the station. As we're finishing, two men in luminous jackets come along with special sealable bags for us to put our finished butts in. Unfortunately, these men are not in fact roving ashtrays – they're members of the Tokyo Smoking Patrol. While you can smoke in most coffee shops, restaurants and bars, you see, you're not allowed to light up outside, or smoke as you walk – unless you're in a designated outdoor smoking area. Confused? This sign should clear things up.

Against all the odds (we have no directions), we get to our hotel in Shinjuku. It's still too early to check in, so we wander round Tokyo in a heavily jetlagged daze (this will last five days), getting scared by all the signs and the traffic crossings and the suits. Finally 2pm rolls around, and we get check in. The room is sweeeeet.

Before passing out with exhaustion though, me and Dan do the thing that all visitors to Japan must do: marvel at the toilet, with its "incredible array of buttons" (© every travel book about Japan ever).

We muck around with the massive LCD telly for a bit, try on the matching yukatta pyjamas we've been supplied with (picture not available, sorry) and then sleep for five hours.

Waking up, we go for a wander around neon-lit Shinjuku and go to a sushi joint. At this stage, my favourite thing about Japan is the way the waiters (and chefs if they're near the door) all cheer "Irashaimasu!" ("Welcome!") whenever anyone walks into their restaurant or cafe. In the UK, they generally just scowl at you.


Nicole said...

"The cigarette butts are always more noticable when I'm walking my dog." What??

Red said...


Japan must be a hoot! Were you there for business or pleasure? Or will it all become clear as I read on...?

Will said...

Business, ha! No, it was just a holiday. Things should become less clear as you read on, hopefully.