It’s hard to say what exactly disappointed us. There was nobody there to greet us. Strange how one gets used to it. If everybody greets you with a cheerful “Irasshaimase!” whenever you enter a place, you’ll feel ill at easy the first time you’re not. Plates and bowls were made of Styrofoam. You serve yourself in a small room with no windows before you seat yourself.
The restaurant itself looks very nice, and I probably would not be complaining if we had come here at the very beginning of our trip. Next time we go on a trip, I’ll try to sort our hotels by price with the most expensive one coming last.
We got out and went for a walk. First we went to the Shinobazu pond, looked at the Benten-dô schrine, continued on to Ueno station, where I bought a new 1GB SD card for my camera, took the train to Nippori, walked north to Nishi-Nippori, walked back to Nippori via a another little street, and ate a little something at the Swiss Chalet. Yes we did. When Claudia saw the Swiss flags and read the signs, she absolutely wanted to see it. And it looked rather authentic, too! And the guests seemed to be locals from the area. One pair of ladies was eating Fondue. And the menu showed that you could have Fondue based on Emmenthaler or Appenzeller cheese. We saw a portrait of a Caucasian man with lots of Japanese text, and therefore assumed that the owner was Swiss. I wonder how he managed to build an authentic Chalet. Perhaps there’s a company selling them here in Japan? We walked on to the Sendagi station and returned to Yushima.
One thing we really like about Japan is the abundancy of public toilets. They are easy to find and almost always quite clean. Very unlike the public toilets you can find in other countries… And they are free! Unlike more and more public toilets in Switzerland. First, you need to know where to find them, and if they’re in a central location they probably belong to a company such as !McClean and cost CHF 1.– to use. What a shame. In hotels, on the other hand, I’ve noticed that they use pretty cheap toilet paper. In Switzerland, we use two- or three-layered toilet paper. Often it is faintly perfumed, embossed. Here in Japan I’ve only seen single-layered, drab toilet paper.
I guess all these observations say as much about Switzerland as they say about Japan.
Another thing we noticed while walking through the streets: Young people often wear little rucksacks for their belongings. And they wear them as low hanging as possible. Sometimes I feel like they must be must be reaching down to the wearer’s knees. What a weird trend.
We also noticed that we had to wait a long time for the pedestrians’ green light whenever we wanted to cross roads. At one time I was really confused: Once the light switches to green for the pedestrians, all four car lanes had to stop while pedestrians got to walk where ever they wanted. I don’t think such crossings exist in Switzerland.
At a Swiss crossing, there’s always at least one green light for pedestrians. In the simplest case, cars drive on the right of the road and cannot turn left at the crossing. Thus one of the two roads is open for cars, and the other two crossings are open for pedestrians. Since cars can turn right, there’s usually an orange light flashing at the right, warning the cars of the pedestrians who have priority.
I guess this is a traffic safety issue: Pedestrians have a green light, and the cars have both a green light to turn right and an orange flashing light warning them of the pedestrians around the corner. There are probably studies on traffic throughput, pedestrian fatalities, and so on. I should find a blog on city planning and development or something like that. A blog where they talk about the exact, numerical benefits of using roundabouts, the drawbacks when it comes to pedestrians and bicycles, and so on. I think I’d love to read that. Then again, life is short.
I must confess that I never really thought about traffic light patterns and traffic control at crossings until I saw this strange example here in Japan.
I think I already wrote about the large number of bicyclists visible and their apparent reluctance to ride on the street. Instead, they often drive quite slowly on the boardwalk.
Yesterday I wrote how we didn’t really like the Onsen in our current Ryokan. I wonder if people use the Translate link at the bottom of German pages. Do you? If this is the first time you’ve noticed it and would have liked to use it, I’d also be interested in knowing. Having a hard to find translation link defeates its purpose, I think.
Since we didn’t like the public bath, and the Edoya Ryokan has a much bigger suite with a traditional looking, wooden, square bathtub, we decided to give it a try when we came back from our long walk. We loved it! First, start filling the tub with hot water. In the mean time, squat outside the tub and use the shower and a bowl to rinse yourself, lather yourself, rinse again, until every single pore is clean, then step into the tub and soak for a while, get out again and rinse yourself some more, get back into the tub and soak, get out again and rinse…
We slept for a while, and in the evening we went out again, strolled through the area around Ueno, looked at the shops, ate cold Soba noodles and Kitsune Soba (Soba noodels with soup and fried Tofu) for dinner, ended up in a red light district where the women we assumed to be prostitutes looked more like conservative housewives, quite unlike the high heels, knee socks and hot pants you see so much out on the streets – and which we immediately associate with the horizontal business if overdone.
Later that night, Claudia kept reading a book by John le Carré and I moved the Permanent Anchors code from the Oddmuse core script into a module. We got to bed at around three thirty.