Visiting Japan. Part 1. Arrival

It “s my first time in this country, and I “m looking forward to new discoveries. This week my wife and I are on vacation in Japan. Our friends Dora and Felix have arrived a day earlier. Dora runs a small but very reputable travel agency Travel Six Stars in New York City (, and when it comes to vacations, I never go anywhere else.

Needless to say that I know how to use Internet, Kayak, Expedia, and other travel Web sites, and I use them to book local travel within the USA. But I don “t organize vacation – I prefer to work with THE professional. On the similar note, if you cut your finger, apply the band aid yourself. But if you have a more serious issue, go to a professionally trained doctor.

The major difference between Dora and any other travel agent is simple ndash; she “s been everywhere herself, while other travel agents try to sell you a cheap package to Dominican Republic they “ve learned about from the brochure received in the mail. By the way, have you ever tried to ask your travel agent where is Dominican Republic? Don “t bother.

This time, as usual, I didn “t know anything about this vacation other than the time of departure and the flight number. It was American Airline flight New York-Tokyo, and then Tokyo-Osaka on the local airline.

The first leg was a 14-hour flight from JFK over Alaska, Kamchatka and down to Japan.

Unfortunately this time my wife didn “t have time to get some good food on the plane (i.e. a piece of a multi-grain bread with French butter and wild Alaskian salmon), hence we had to suffer horrible meals served by flight attendant born during the Great American Depression. American aviation clearly goes down the toilet. By the way, toilets is the main theme of this blog.

Tokyo international airport was not as large as I expected, and finding our connection flight was easy – people speak some English here.

I got a habit to make the first judgment about any new place by the toilets. If they are clean and well maintained ndash; you “ll enjoy the rest too. The toilet was clean. But the urinals were hanging too low, on the kids level by our standards. Not a big issue ndash; you can always control the stream trajectory .

In the women “s toilet, besides regular cabins, you can find urinals embedded right in the floor, a bit unusual for a Westerners, but it was clean too.

As a matter of fact, if you asked me to describe Japan with one word, I “d use the word clean. The smoking area in the airport is located outside on the open air. It “s a fenced area open area, but inside the fans mounted in the walls suck in the smoke so it won “t go up in the atmosphere.

In Osaka, we “ve boarded a small van to get us to our hotel in Kyoto. Twenty three bucks, the driver takes credit cards and not tips are expected. All the cab drivers wear suits and ties and white linen gloves.

In the hotel room, when I went to the toilet, I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the seat. I had to learn how to handle control panel:

Press the second button on the left, and your ass will be sprayed by the water of the body temperature. Smart Japanese engineers ensured that the spray goes right in the bull “s eye, if you know what I mean. The next button marked Soft does pretty much the same thing but softer.

Toilets make the you clearly feel the difference between under and over developed countries. In India, I “ve seen urinals just standing openly on the streets. On the higher end, I “ve attended there the toilets equipped with a pitcher with water that gets you engaged with a hand job after you “ve completed your main mission.

The western world uses toilet paper, which is fast but not the best way to clean your ass.

Back to Japan. I started experimenting with the button High/Low. Guys, be careful with getting high. In this mode you can easily get prepared for colonoscopy.

Do you think I should try pressing the top right button?

If you think I spend too much time on toilets, don “t be. I “ve been using toilets for evaluating the health of new places for a while. For example, when I was going to job interviews at a new company, I “d always visit the toilet there even if I didn “t need to go ndash; a well maintained toilet is a good business card of any firm.

To be continued…

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