A Travellerspoint blog

Tokyo Honeymoon Story (Edited)

Straight from the 'moon!

My husband and I were fortunate enough to spend eight days of our honeymoon in a city that we eventually declared the most fascinating place on earth. It seemed that there was a cultural adventure waiting for us around each of Tokyo’s nooks and crannies every time we stepped out of our hotel. I don't know what else we expected from a country where the Prime Minister's wife in an interview with CNN told her countrymen that she flew to Venus on a flying saucer, her husband has been too, she eats the SUN and she wants to do a movie with Tom Cruise because they were friends in a previous life, but we were sure in store for some remarkable surprises.

Where do I begin? The Cat Café that is conveniently located in the middle of the nightlife district near Shinjuku, Tokyo where you can literally make a night out of getting drunk and playing with cats for ten bucks an hour? Or Japan's version of the reality TV show The Bachelor, where a group of ladies are eliminated over a forty-minute period and at the end of the show the last standing lady decides whether she wants to sign a marriage contract with a guy she knows nothing more about than his salary, the fact that he is in his thirties, and that he's a so-so Rocks, Paper, Scissors player?

At one point within our first day in Tokyo a nap was the next item on our agenda but I couldn't sleep despite the jet lag because I was so eager beaver to get to Toto Super Space. Toto Super Space was a real gem which housed examples of Japan’s world-leading toilet technology. Toto was filled with toilets of all shapes and functions that automatically lifted their seats as I walked by. Some of them turned on via the Internet, others analyzed what was in there. No, really. Thank the lord flash photography was allowed- I sure had fun with my camera in there.

The Japanese are so use to top of the line toilets that they have to excuse themselves whenever the toilets at an establishment are sub-par. We stayed in a nice three-star hotel in the center of Tokyo for part of our trip which had a toilet seat that didn't warm up. To compensate, our toilet had a sign that read "this toilet seat doesn't get warm because it doesn't use electricity. The operation method is different from the one that does use electricity. Please look at ‘How to Use Shower Toilet’ for more information." Really? Honestly folks? Our toilet has an instruction manual even though it won't even warm up? Weird! I was on the verge of calling the front desk and getting a legitimate answer as to why our toilet seat was so low-quality because I'll be honest, we were fairly "shocked." After all, even hole in the wall Indian restaurants have warm toilet seats in Japan.

After getting over the toilet phenomenon, one of the pinnacles of our Tokyo extravaganza was a night at a bar called Kagaya. I don't know if you could call this place a bar, it was more like a way of life. It was run entirely by "Mark," whose crackpot behavior made the bar famous. As soon as we sat down we were greeted by Mark's obligatory robot who brought hand towels to our table. Then Mark brought us the menu, which he translated into English by stroking it up and down and telling us how sexy it was. He explained that in his bar you pick a drink and a country every time you order. I choose soju with green tea and Brazil. Mark prepared my beverage then disappeared into his closet where he dressed up in a Carnival outfit, loaded up his CD player with samba music and came out of the closet hooting and hollering like a madman as he served me a drink in a cup that shook and wiggled every time I picked it up. My husband had to pour his drink out of a glass with a boy peeing. Japan is an interesting country.

When it came time to eat we didn't get to pick what we ate, instead we just had to choose which type of menu we ordered from. One of the choices was: "Hey Master, you know what, today I'm feeling free. Get me something soothing. Wow me. Bang me. You know what I'm talking about...2625 yen."

When Mark finally brought out our bill which was rolled up in a Barbie doll's shirt, I thought to myself- wow, the Prime Minister's wife is really starting to make sense to me. Tokyo must be a very special place.

Posted by bjmorris14 15:11 Comments (0)

Back from the Honeymoon - feeling weird

Subject: Reverse Culture Shock-America, the United States, our homeland, USA.

Since I got home yesterday I have that normal OFF feeling that accompanies jet lagged. I'm incredibly tired but still have a sort of hard time sleeping... and on top of it I started my new job at Bare Escentauls today which was interesting and exciting!

Culture shock is that state of being many Americans experience when they travel to places like the UK, Spain or Thailand. UK: "Wow, they drink a lot in London, I sure feel out of place here!" "SPAIN: Those Spaniards sure do use a lot of mayo in their cooking, this is so contrary from the mission statement at my local WHOLE FOODS that I'm culturally shocked!" THAILAND: "Almost everyone here looks Thai and they are driving around on tuk tuks which look like the vehicles used in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Disneyland... and they sell bugs to eat on the street- I'm traumatized." CULTURE SHOCK.

Well there is also reverse culture shock, a phenomenon that happens to people like me after soaking in enough good stuff in a country like Japan I get shocked about the US as if it's all new to me. Here were some of my initial thoughts having arrived back in the"States."

1) Wow, everyone got larger in the last few hours. What do these people eat here? No wonder the life expectancy of the Japanese is the highest in the world. Is everyone here large and in charge or am I wearing a wide angle lens? Dang,is everyone really drinking and walking at the same time. So rude!

2) Why is my toilet suddenly looking so ghetto. I haven't seen toilets this rudimentary, not even in 5 buck curry hole in the walls in the last few weeks. How will I warm my butt to enhance my bathroom experience. I suddenly feel inadequate. I'm oddly really bothered by this and the value of our apartment has really rapidly declined in my mind in the last two days. Thank god we don't own the place (our toilet seat sometimes even slides a little off the toilet bowl- GHETTO).

3) Why isn't every person thanking me over and over for doing nothing except being in the presence of their vicinity. Did I lose that magic touch? Are Americans just rude? Or are we normal for not kissing everyones
a**... Should I really feel offended for not being bowed down to for buying an iced tea in Starbucks today.

4) Why is the reality TV here so PC. Why don't they get a little wilder and copy the Japanese shows where people marry after knowing each other for 40 minutes? Why don't we have a show for normal looking Americans where they compete against two other contestants and the ugliest one wins a nose job, eye opening surgery and maybe even a jaw implant? Japan has this show- why don't we?

5)Where are all the "love hotels"- does San Francisco have a pay by the hour love hotel district that is actually nice like it is in Tokyo? Are the Japanese weird for having upscale love motels where you can karaoke, play video games, order sushi, swim, sleep, you know what, etc.. in themed rooms that depict everything from the Caribbean to Dungeons and Dragons theme? Or are we weird for not having them?


THANKFULLY one thing has stayed stagnant- I'm still as in love with my husband and to me he's looking better than ever. So is Olivia- she is sexier than I remembered her.

Holloween after honeymoon as Japanese teens

Holloween after honeymoon as Japanese teens

Airport after arriving back from our honeymoon

Airport after arriving back from our honeymoon

Posted by bjmorris14 14:36 Comments (0)

Honeymoon in Japan - Entry 9 Back in Kyoto for one night

Subject: Rub a Dub...........

LOCATION: Jamacian Club in Kyoto- *Rub a Dub.*

FACTS: 60 plus year old short and stout Japanese man named APATCH wearing a multi-colored tie dye t-shirt straight off Telegraph Ave, thick rimmed black glasses and a Bob Marley hat. Lover of Elvis Presley and all things Jamaican, this hottie with a body got a few drinks in his system and right before our eyes started jammin to *We:re jammin*, *One Love* and other Marley classics. A tall young Japanese man in an expensive Italian suit got up to join him. Like Paula Abdul said- Opposites Attract.

APATCH had a few signature moves, namely the pancake, the slow-motion clap and the rub the belly with one hand while I flail the other arm in the air like a Japanese/Jamaican cowboy.

Bartender says he:s a regular. We were just glad to be there armed with a videocamera on one of his *regular nights.*

CONCLUSION: Apatch finds his version of Cheers where everybody knows his name in his niche hangout Rub a Dub, we get our Berkeley fix in Kyoto, I guess there really is some place for everyone.



Posted by bjmorris14 14:35 Comments (0)

Honeymoon in Japan - Entry 8 Nara and Kobe

Subject: Kobe beef- sorry for so many emails but its just like butter

Sorry to write an entire book to all however many of you are on this list but there is just way too much material in Japan and I want to be able to remember all the small details from my honeymoon when I:m 80 or so. If you don:t want to remember all this you can just SPAM me right on into your trash bin, I won:t take it personally. Sorry but I figure it doesn:t take me long to write since any of you who have been reading have probably figured out that I don:t edit or think about what I:m writing, I just write about 10 paragraphs worth of lofty run^on sentences and then call it a night.

Because every time I turn around there is something better waiting just around the corner. Again, whoever is not interested can just hit the delete button as if I was serving them a coupon for a Big Mac. Plus we only have two more days and I promise not to write emails about what I ate for dinner and where I walked and what I saw in SF when I get home.

Today we had quite a packed agenda. We spent half a day in Nara visiting with the world:s largest Buddha and other important statutes, wood carvings from the 7th century with eyes that can see right through you, pagodas, temples, shrines, and tons and tons of Bambi. I:ve never seen so many deer in my life. The historical relics were fascinating and beautiful. The deer were cute at first...

Nara is just filled with deer and unlike the deer I:ve seen in California, these guys are so friendly you can pet them and apparently even share a Lady and the Tramp spaghetti moment with them. In a country that places such an incredibly high value on hygiene, cleanliness and disease prevention it was quite frankly SHOCKING to watch the Japanese interact with these parasite ridden animals as if Buddha himself had sent each one down from a holy land after a nice bath. Almost every person stopped to pet the deer, take pictures with them, talk to them, feed them etc... and one teenage boy even bought a piece of bread which he stuck in his mouth and waited for the deer to bite off pieces from the same baguette in his mouth until the deer almost bit his nose off. Super smart!! It was absolutely disgusting. I know they think deer are sacred but it:s just odd to see the same people who wear masks over their faces 10 hours a day to protect them from germs practically swap spit and get up close and personal with animals that in the US at least are covered in parasites and carry all sorts of rare diseases.

After a fun day in Nara we took a train down to Kobe (a very useful tip from Brett:s aunt Cindy). We had a mouth watering Kobe steak dinner in the city of Kobe- it was quite the experience. Now I finally understand what happens when you feed a cow a special diet including beer and massage a cow daily- buttery, luscious, creamy beef unlike anything we:ve ever seen or tasted before. The Kobe steaks put a good filet to shame plus the experience was just unbeatable. We had our own personal chef who we watched cook the steak in front of us over the course of at least half an hour. Before cooking the steak he first introduced us to our two steaks. It was a rather formal introduction.

Only in Japan do you get a formal introduction to your raw meal before you devour it. Strange but certainly cool.

The steak itself looked REALLY different from any steak I:ve ever seen raw at a supermarket anywhere. Its hard to describe but it looked sort of fake... like one of those plastic steaks that a kid might play with in a toy market. The chef cut the steaks into several small pieces and cooked just a few small pieces at a time. Then he would instruct us, *eat one piece (which was a bite) just with salt, eat the next piece just with pepper, eat this piece plain, eat this one with mustard and soy sauce...* He watched us the whole way through and made sure that each bite was cooked to perfection. It was.

Kobe beef

Kobe beef

Kobe beef night

Kobe beef night

After dinner on our way to the train station, I was starting to get a bit concerned because we hadn:t yet run into a kimono for my dog Olivia and I was thinking we might have to bring her back a children:s version and convert it but luckily in Kobe we ran right smack into a store that sold Disney outfits and traditional Japanese clothing for our four legged friends. For those of you that don:t know me too well Im half joking and half serious- I wasn:t really searching the country for a doggy kimono but when I found one I was quite pleased and after picking out the colors that would best compliment Olivia:s glossy coat I did make a purchase.

On the walk back to our ryokan I saw a typical moment of Japanese kindness. A group of four friends, stopping by a homeless woman who had passed out near the train station to feed her tea cookies and pour her warm green tea out of a thermos. Not something you see every day in the states but definitely heartwarming and tear jerking. I:m not sure if they were trying to nurse her back to life or just share some tea but it was sweet.

Enough for now... Good night everyone.

Posted by bjmorris14 14:34 Comments (0)

Honeymoon in Japan - Entry 7 Kyoto

Subject: Kyoto

We just arrived in Kyoto after finding out last night that our supposedly sleepy Japanese village was actually a facade for an undercover prostitute haven... for some reason Brett and I after eating an enormous dinner decide to take a walk. Mostly there wasn:t anything to see at all... just a few open shops but on most streets we were the only ones which might have been romantic had Brett not just recounted a few stories of serial killers on our way out the door.

After walking awhile we stumbled upon one place where you could shoot bows and arrows (I tried to go in there and have a try but Brett said I:d hurt myself...) and another Pachinko parlor (the Japanese version of Indian Reservation Casinos where you play this weird slot game with a bunch of silver balls and lit up cartoon characters... its a rip)

So finally we come up to the one lit street thinking hey wifey, hey hubby- we finally found the **nightlife street** in this folk village. So we walk into a bar, maybe we should have taken the windowless bars as a harbinger of what was yet to come but we didn:t so we bust open the door to find... hookers. Da da na na....

They basically told us in sign language to get out. At the first bar we were met with crossed fingers, I wasn:t sure if we were being shunned or if they were performing voo doo but we just turned around and walked out.

At the second place the two chicks inside looked shocked and then started giggling.

At the third venue the girls starred at us for a moment then went to get a sign in English, our native tounge, saying that we could get a drink if we wanted but only if we first paid a forty dolla cover fee. This is Japan:s way of saying we don:t want any of your kind in here but instead of just ripping us off after we have a drink or having a bouncer kick us out like they might do in Romania, the Japanese are at least polite enough to tell us in a way that doesn:t hurt our creative American minds.

After checking out four venues, you may be wondering why didn:t you just head home. Well we were almost just intrigued to figure out what the hay was going on there. It was the only street in Takayama where we had seen girls with Tokyo Shibuya style up-dos, beanies (which are apparently IN right now, even in the summer, they can even be worn with a mini skirt) and we were eager to figure out where they got the inspiration for their lovely locks.

Fast forward a good nights sleep and a delicious Japanese breakfast. The train ride to Kyoto was breathtaking...

And here we are. Today we enjoyed two of the most famous temples in Kyoto, both of them were beautiful.

We:ve already run into a few geisha. A few of them were imposters but they sure fooled me. I pulled out my camera and started snapping away, until my intelligent counterpart informed me that I was taking a picture of girls in a studio where you pay $100 a person to get your hair and makeup done like a geisha. So what, to me it still looked like a cultural hotspot. At least the girls were Japanese right??

Tonight, after settling into our amazing ryokan in Kyoto where the innkeepers are just too good to be true and the bath is just incredible, we went to the street near Gion where the real geisha hang out and entertain. We finally found a real one bidding farewell to one of her customers (by the way geisha cost around $3000 a night and they aren:t prostitutes for the most part they just entertain with soft voices, traditional dance and instrumental interludes). I was so excited I tried to spend a few more minutes what Brett called *GEISHA HUNTING*

Well at least I was successful in my hunt.

We are enjoying our new ryokan but we (ok, I) still don:t have the shoe thing down flat. This ryokan is fancier than the one in Takayama and I can tell by the pairs of shoes I have to wear just to walk around... and the place is really pretty small. Imagine a bed and breakfast in Napa in an old Victorian house with 8 rooms... that:s where we are only everyone is way more gracious and you have to wear about five pairs of slippers just to walk 30 feet.

So I walk in, take off my shoes, then borrow a pair of slippers to walk around the hallway downstairs that leads to the rock garden and coi pond. Then if I go into the bathroom I:m suppose to use the toilet shoes only this is a classier establishment so the slippers don:t say toilet, they are just plain jane classy toilet slippers. To be honest I just sneak my other slippers into the toilet area unless someone is watching me. Then there are different slippers we are suppose to use upstairs to walk up the stairs and to our room but don:t be fooled because you should never wear any slippers in your room. To top things off the garden area has its own pair.

So I accidentally used my upstairs slippers on the cement hallway downstairs- that is until I was stopped by a few of the innkeepers who you could tell were rather alarmed. Everytime I wear the wrong slippers at the wrong place or time I feel like I:m smuggling in drugs from Tijuana. It:s that bad. It does leave me wondering whether anyone in Japan has athlete:s foot or any other fungi. Probably not. This is really the first place on earth I]d want to be if the movie OUTBREAK came to life. I would feel safe and sanitary here. Or even if you just had hammer toes it seemed like this would be the worst country to be in....

Good night folks, tomorrow we are off to Nara for the day and probably Kobe for dinner to try some local massaged cow beef firsthand.

Posted by bjmorris14 14:32 Comments (0)

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