I feel absolutely disgusting as I exit the bus; it’s one of those moments when you know you smell because you smell yourself, but you hope that no one else can smell you. We are ushered into what seems like a palace; Keio Plaza Hotel is a four star, and it does not let you forget that. The spacious lobby area is impeccably donned with beautiful Japanese tiles and chandeliers that make everything sparkle. We seem like hoodlums traipsing into this immaculate sanctuary that all but screams “for the elite class only.” We are quickly ushered into a conference room with about fifty chairs all lined up in perfect order. Then I think, “Oh of course we are about to have a meeting when all I can think about is showering and sleeping.” Luckily the meeting is short and sweet, only giving us minor details about the next morning’s events. We are kindly but strictly reminded that business attire is mandatory, which translates to a full suit and tie. I cringe at the thought of wearing a suit in this Tokyo heat but at least it will all be inside. We are finally given the go-ahead to retire to our rooms and I happily pack myself into an elevator with my fellow peers. I have not made any plans yet because all I am wanting is that shower.
I open the door to room 1553 and inside are my two roommates. I was not expecting two but here they
are. One I already knew because
he is from the Atlanta group, the other is from Wisconsin and is a bit odd but nice nonetheless. We exchange pleasantries and I quickly make my way to shower before anyone can object.
This is my first experience in a Japanese bathroom. The toilet is amazing; I know that is the strangest thing you have ever heard but it is 100% true. You sit on it, and not only does it have a heat setting so you bum does not get cold, but it also turns into a bidet or perhaps a little squirt will suffice. All this can be accomplished by the touch of a button. The Japanese at their finest. Next is the shower; it is pretty much normal except for you can take the shower head off and use it like a wand to wash yourself if needed. It reminded me more of European bathtubs than American ones. After a long and relaxing shower I get dressed and dig through my contacts list on my cell phone to find some friends that are going out for dinner. I find a few people and we decide to meet in the lobby at 8.
As we start on our venture to find some good authentic Japanese cuisine I almost immediately begin sweating again. I’m telling you this Japan summer is murderous, I wish I knew the secret to the Japanese “no sweating no matter how hot it gets” gene. We decide on a place to get ramen and we order at a vending machine. It was kind of one of those WTF moments because I’ve never gone to a sit-down restaurant and not had my order taken inside. So what you do is choose what you want to eat and drink outside at the machine, pay at the machine which will then give you tickets for each individual item. You proceed inside and hand your ticket to the chef. Afterwards your food is brought out to you, violá! I ate like a madman because after all that traveling, walking, sweating can you really blame me? We had a good time and named one of our cohorts “The Ramenator” because she basically inhaled her ramen and did not leave even a drop in her bowl. This concludes day one in Tokyo.