Let me start by saying that Aubri and all the middle school girls are exactly like this with each other.
Once again the hotel’s wifi has emotional challenges, and so I am forced to update late. My tips and tricks today will go at the end.
Naturally we had breakfast at the hotel this morning.
First, part 2 of Kyoto would have been in the Gion area with the geisha-in-training. However, the comical and unavoidable side effect of two adult women traveling together for the better part of a month means that we were scrambling to find a store with appropriate supplies. Japanese drug stores carry an entire wall of “feminine napkins” and exactly three boxes of tampons, apparently. We also needed Excedrin because yeah. After that we just decided to wander Nishiki Market for a while again, this time with more of the shops open because it was later in the day.
And so we had Starbucks at the loveliest Starbucks ever.
Then we passed by an “Irish Pub” serving ramen and curry with their Guinness. I think it’d go over well.
We passed a one-tent Farmer’s Market.
Discovered the Making Of Matcha Mochi.
Found a Sock Merchant.
This might be why Lesbians like sushi… wait, what?
And a copper pot and Japanese knife store where everything costs more than your mortgage payment.
This is an “Italian” restaurant.
We thought about re-importing the “USA Cotton” but decided the slices of cloth were too small.
Also a metal mesh gorilla.
And a Fine Upstanding Tea House.
A brief break…
A quick sushi bite…
And a moment of home.
Then Aubri ate all of my macadamia nut ice cream, we grabbed a bite of cheesecake (literally), hopped the first shinkansen and headed out.
We spent much of the day traveling again, and let me tell you that for future reference I would avoid coming to Kawaguchiko. We had to ride a shinkansen to Mishima, then hop a rail for one stop, then another rail to Gotemba, then take an over-an-hour-ride city bus that cost 1510jpy/ea to finally arrive in the only travel center where the employee(s) were rude to Jamie when she asked for directions to the hotel. To the point where when I found the note from the hotel saying “call us to send a car!” and Jamie went back to the desk to ask the lady to call them, she said “No! Taxi!” It was like talking to a desk clerk in America. Awkward reverse culture shock!
The udon in the place was pretty good though.
The hotel picked us up and this hotel (Kawaguchiko Hotel) is kinda old and decrepit. It wants to be a beautiful classy ryokan and is instead a gross 60s or 70s hotel with almost no updates and all smelly and weird. Even the items for guests to use are worn. Again, weird for what we’ve experienced in Japan before. It IS right on the lake, but I can’t imagine ever using that hard lump of foam pillow again. Also this is the first place they’ve had combo shampoo/conditioner instead of separate, so I’m going to shower tomorrow…
Fortunately they do have a nice public bath though. With a view. Open 24 hours.
So, on to today’s tricks. These aren’t actually numbered in order of importance.
- There’s this website called Hyperdia.com that will let you plan point to point (by station name) destinations in Japan. But you need to know a few things about it—for example, that it plans based on your departure time as its highest priority. So it may tell you that your only option is a Nozomi (most expensive train and not covered by JR pass), but you can tweak the checkboxes to get it down to what you want.
- There are tons of local airports all over Japan. Be smarter than me and use them.
- The Japanese are very confused by the concept of sharing, but they also serve up pretty large portions (at least to American tourists). So a lot of things are really shareable.
- Travel light because you will be lugging your bags everywhere. Plan at least one hotel that says it has a coin laundry.
- In order to travel light, realize that basically every hotel provides not just shampoo/conditioner (most of it better quality than anything at a hotel in America), but they will also give you a toothbrush and toothpaste, razor, qtips etc. Make your own judgment call on how much you can use as a disposable. We bring our toothbrushes but leave shampoo/conditioner/razors at home.
- Some weird phrasing that makes booking hotels complicated: “Twin” means two small beds. “Double” means one double wide bed (which is actually maybe the width of a “full” bed in America but certainly not the length). A Semidouble might mean you have an almost double bed or a wide bed and a skinny bed depending on the hotel. Japan also charges per adult in hotels, but children under 3 stay for free. Unfortunately that means they usually don’t have a bed arrangement…
- Be prepared to carry your trash with you all the time, until you find appropriate receptacles (which are not very common in some of the bigger cities but prevalent in others). Littering is a 30,000jpy ($300+) offense and your tourist status won’t save you.
- The Japanese adults are very uncomfortable with loud noises or a lot of talking on the trains or subways. Be prepared to be uncomfortable when carrying a child with tantrum potential onto the trains.
- Your digestive system is probably going to hate you for a few days once you start eating different vegetables and pickles with everything. Drink tea. It helps.
- Vending machines are a good source of interesting and unique beverages. And ice cream.
Now I spent all night tossing and turning with nightmares that I won’t get the Fuji photos I am hoping for, so here’s to dreams being just that. Next up: Hakone and the Valley of Hell! Recently renamed to the Boiling Valley to encourage more visitors…