We're finally settled in our first hotel in Tokyo! It has been a very, very long day...by the time on my laptop we've been roughly conscious for 26 hours straight! Though we did nap on the plane, it wasn't particularly restful, especially with the family with the baby directly in front of us who needed constant tending and soothing with the aid of the "courtesy lights."
Our first flight from Indianapolis to Chicago was delayed by a half hour, but it was no great tragedy. Before we boarded the second I picked this up at a kiosk for lunch:
$5 for all of this fanciness...not too bad for O'Hare fare. I decided to save it for when we were gliding smoothly in the air, and it's a good thing I held off. To our surprise, they served the first in-flight meal only an hour after departure. Sweetie chose the pork curry and was presented with this enormous tray:
Sweetie can pack a lot of food into his stomach, but there was just so much that he ended up only finishing this main box. When he gave the leftovers back to the attendant, she said, "You don't like the taste of Japanese food?" Not two hours off the ground from Illinois, and he was already labeled a gaijin. I avoided that assumption by squirreling half of this monstrosity into my backpack when no one was looking:
For the record, Japanese Diet Pepsi tastes better than the stuff in the bottle we get at Kroger.
I had chosen the salmon in tomato-olive sauce, and I was so happy I did! Look at this gorgeousness:
The salmon was lovely, and the whole tray was bursting with vegetables. On the fish alone there were tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, spinach, zucchini, green and black olives. And just in case that wasn't enough plant material for you, the side dishes contained more peppers, onion, radish, asparagus, and some indecipherable bits that definitely came from the ground but I hadn't tasted before. During the meal I ate all of the salmon dish and the slice of cantalope. At snack time the roll followed...it was very eggy and dense, but not stale-tasting like I was expecting.
I did actually break into the salad for dinner (around 5pm Indiana time...I have no idea what time it was in the outside world because I never adjusted my watch). The mozzarella had sogged up a bit, but I didn't intend to eat it anyway. Otherwise it was pretty good and filling. Other eats included an entire bag of dried tropical fruits (supposedly 4 servings) picked at throughout the day, a couple of mini Luna bars, and far too many ranch-flavored Wheat Thins to do a body any good. Getting up at 5am and staying up until what your circadian clock considers 7 in the morning wreaks havoc on those appetite hormones.
Other than the pork curry, though, Sweetie ate practically nothing. Not surprisingly, after crawling through immigration, riding a train, battling the insane crowds at Tokyo station and pulling bulky luggage around Tokyo (lost, of course), and finally stumbling into our room at the Villa Fontaine Hacchobori, he died.
I unpacked and took some photos of the room while the life drained out of him.
But I eventually gave in to his pleas for "food...real food..." We explored the neighborhood and, after discovering that the 7-Eleven supposedly right across from our hotel had closed up and that we're too chicken to enter the local hole-in-the-wall noodle places filled with boisterous salarymen, found an am-pm that sold semi-edibles.
Sweetie dug in to the hot-water-cooked dried-seafood noodles and declared it the "real food" he was waiting for.
I think that was the delirium talking--they tasted like regular fried and reconstituted noodles to me. He also drank the juice, which was a mixture of pineapple, apple, coconut and some other things, if my taste buds could serve as a severely cropped ingredient list.
I tried something new, because the Ranch crackers left something to be desired in my diet today.
Mochi daifuku...I assume.
Unfortunately, it didn't appeal to me. The texture was very squishy, the filling extremely sweet. Maybe I'd like freshly made daifuku--one that doesn't come in a package with an expiration date one month from now.
Cultural note: the 10 is the year. I had a bit of a shock when I turned the wrapper around to look after taking a bite and thought, "October '08?!" But I quickly came to my senses.
Some other cultural notes so far:
1) Teenage girls really wear those uniforms you see on television and in kinky "specialty" shops. And they're everywhere.
2) The aforementioned teenage girls are, on average, not tiny. After all that effort I went through so that I wouldn't be huge in comparison, I find that I'm absolutely normal in this crowd. Though I see some stick figures running around in trendy outfits, the scary skinny fashionable ideal here is quite far from reality.
3) If a person you meet isn't in a school uniform, they're in a black suit. Pants and ties on the men, pencil skirts and white blouses on the women. Dress jackets not optional.
4) 99% of the population on any given train platform will be either talking into or playing with a cell phone.
5) The walk sign flashes green.
6) Salarymen really are crazy drunkards who swarm the izakaya after work. And boys gawk at porn openly in convenience stores.
7) The entire country is in miniature. Older people, houses, streets and hotel rooms are like an old movie-set scaled down to make the star look taller. But honestly, the room isn't nearly as bad as some online reviewers had complained. It's certainly big enough for two relatively normal-sized people to move around comfortably.
I'm having difficulty keeping my eyes open, and I think Sweetie's almost done with the shower, so I'm about to take my turn and get some sleep before we head off to Odaiba tomorrow. If we can find the train station again, that is.