Thursday, December 23, 2010


Green Tea Kit Kat

Police on Wheels

We all have heard of the warm toilet seat. Now, you also have the options to deodorise the toilet and have a waterfall background sound while you are doing business.

Simple but elegant lock for the shoe cabinet at the entrance of the restaurant.

Portable bicycle. Can be folded and carried in the bus or train for the long leg of the journey.

In Japan, you never have to learn how to do a three point turn!

Travel while exercise in comfort.

Travellator for the bicycles

3 in 1 tap - soap, wash and dry

Impressed that all cab drivers wear a tie and a suit, but more impressed by the fact that the taxi doors close by themselves!

You will always be able to look in the mirror despite how steamy the toilet is!

Double decker parking

No need for enforcement. You don't pay parking, you can't get your vehicle out!

And of course the Japanese pride, the shinkansen (also known as the bullet train!)


A few days before our Japan trip, I purposely planned to play golf with Emi (a newly found Japanese) so that I can take the opportunity to learn a few Japanese words and get some travel tips from her. She warned me that most Japanese will shy away when asked either for directions or information. Since it came from a Japanese, I took that quiet seriously and did a lot more research on transportation, places to go to etc. than I would normally have done before any other trip. Despite that, we still needed a lot of help when we got there.

Upon arrival from Narita airport, with minimal Japanese (non-existent actually), we managed to get to Tokyo all by ourselves until we got to the metro stations. Tokyo metro stations are more complex than what I am used to - London, New York, even Moscow subway was easier to understand!
While trying to figure out how it all worked, a Japanese gentleman approached us and asked whether he could help us. We jumped at the opportunity but didn't expect him to spend more than 30 minutes helping us. But he did.
He managed to get us the refund for the tickets that we wrongly bought, showed us the office where we can get a day pass and even brought us to the platform where we were supposed to catch the train to our hotel in Hanzomon. What a guy! I couldn't help but request to take a photo with him for I could never repay his kindness, but I hope the photo will remind me of his hospitality so that I can offer him a prayer of good health and wealth.


It was so big that we couldn't even figure out how best to get out of the station. I left Franco and Tasha with the luggage and started scouting for someone to assist us. Armed with just a smile and the name of the hotel, I spotted this young Japanese guy. He had no idea where the hotel was but he was with us good 15 minutes to help us figure out the direction to the hotel. When we parted ways, we wished him the best of luck in his boxing career.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


If you are planning to visit Japan, don't bother packing yout PJs. Most hotels provide either pyjamas or yukata (cotton summer version of kimono).
So there we were, in our matching pjs, ready to sleep off our sore legs after a full day of sight seeing!
Oyasumi nasai (おやすみなさい.........


After following Yus' instruction to the tee, we arrived at the subway station a few minutes before 6.30 p.m. and waited for Marc there. Tasha asked me whether I have met Marc before, and when she heard the negative word, she questioned how I was going to identify him.

I had no idea how but as soon as Marc walked into the station, I knew right away that he was the guy. We did the usual introduction and then followed him on a little tour en route to their abode, where we were told Yus was busy cooking a feast. Just as well as we were starving!

The meal was delicious - nice home cooked miso soup to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, followed by a vegetable pie and a pasta dish with salad on the side and finished with the eclair, which of course I didn't get to taste as my portion (and I think Yus' as well) was gobbled down by yours truly. In moments like that I felt like I had raised a monster with no eating manners, but Yus is an old time friend, so, Tasha's table manners, or the lack thereof, in her moments of weakness, was brushed off as cute and adorable!
The time we spent with Yus and Marc was too short (or at least it felt that way since time always flew right by you when you were having fun) but next time (we hope), we would plan it a bit better so that we can take on Marc's offer to take us climb Mount Fiji, go skiing or just hang out....


Half way to the hotel from Kyoto train station, Tasha realised that the laundry bag was not with any of us. True enough, Franco did his thing again and left the bag on the train. Silently, I said goodbye to my newly procured Heattech thermal which was in the laundry bag while cursing Franco, under my breath, for being so careless.
The next day, before taking the train to Himeji we decided to check at the Lost and Found at Kyoto station. After describing our laundry bag for less than a minute, the guy typed into his computer for a second and told us that our bag is in Okayama. The procedure is that for us to leave our hotel address and they will mail to us, to be received in 2 days. Since we were moving from one place to another almost daily, we decided to go to Okayama to pick the bag up ourselves. Afterall, it was only one stop away from Himeji, our destination for that day.
An hour later, we found Lost and Found Centre at Okayama Station and true as we were told, found our laundry bag....with everything in tact.
We were so amazed by the honesty of the Japanese people and the efficiency of their system. We later were told that even when a wallet is left on the train or in restaurant, most if not, all the time, the owner will get it back with not even a penny less from the wallet.
"Exclusively in Japan" is all I can say.


View from Shinkansen Hikari from Kyoto to Tokyo.
The Japanese believes that if you are able to sight Mount Fiji, you will be blessed with good luck (apparently, even on normal clear day, there will always be mists that mystify the mountain and make it difficult to be seen from a distance).
I guess I am one lucky girl.....


Is it as good as people say it is? YES, absolutely!


Monday, December 20, 2010


After booking our flight to Japan, the first priority was for me to arrange to at least have a lunch with a friend whom I have not seen since 1989. Instead of accepting our lunch invitation, she invited us to spend the weekend with her at her cottage in Karuizawa - 1.5 hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. So, our Japanese exerience began when we met Akira and Reiri for lunch at Tokyo Station.

After lunch we headed to Karuizawa, which reminded me so much of a little English town. Being a 'kampung' girl, I felt at ease right away with the environ until we hit the factory outlets selling Pradas and Hugo Boss. The prices surprisingly are comparable to the factory outlets in the States, but since we didn't plan for shopping, we did a lot of window shopping and very little buying.