[The American Years]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Old Country

Greetings from ... JAPAN! Where you get exceptional service and don't have to tip! What a country! What a ripoff in the States!

Yes, I am back in the Old Country for only a week's business trip. A note about business hotels in Japan. It's like stepping back in time. Maybe to the 1950's or so? (And not just in their attitudes towards women.)

1) There are strange hair care products in the bathroom.

There is aftershave, which is a bit outdated. There is also both "Hair Tonic" and "Hair Liquid".

I have no idea what either of those do, but I haven't tried. Maybe today.


2) Some of them use keys. Not key cards. They us actual physical keys.

And they expect you to drop off your key at the front desk when we go out for the day, and then you come to the desk to pick it up on the way back in. It's how they know you're not in the room so they can clean it. When you stop at the desk to pick up your key on your way in, they give you your messages then. It's all pretty cute. I pretend I'm Cary Grant when I walk up to the desk. "2542 my dear. And a Vodka Collins."

I haven't got treated like Cary Grant yet. Maybe I'm not using enough hair liquid.

Don't start thinking the Japanese are completely old school. You know of course about the high-tech toilets. Common features of the business hotels.

One more nice thing about Japanese business hotels is they have great bathroom mirrors. Many of them have this no-fog area in the middle of the mirror. Brilliant! Step out of the shower and the mirror is perfectly shave-ready! Why can't my mirror at home be like this!

So the good news: Fog free bathroom mirror.
Bad news: When standing in front of the mirror, I can see a perfectly fog-free view of my chest and abdomen. (Remember? I'm tall.)

But it's okay, after shaving my chest and abdomen ("When in Rome," I say) there's plenty of alcohol-based aftershave to give me that lively fresh feeling.
I was able to take a side trip to Koukura and Nagasaki. Nagasaki is a long way down there. From Nagoya (where my plane landed, nearly in the center of the country) it was nearly 5 hours and $300 by train. Youch.

Yummy seafood in that area.

They have a Peace Park there, obviously. A bit humbler than the Hiroshima equivalent, but lovely and simple. Photos of the trip.

On the train ride back through the tunnels, where cross-winds are less of a concern, the Shinkansen reached 300km/hr. (180 mph.) My own personal land-speed record. The Japanese people around me were not giddy with excitement like I was. Instead, they were asleep. What a country.