I am in Japan! This is really somewhere I never thought I would come to, I just never really thought about it as a viable destination as it is so, so far away. But now I am here, I absolutely love it. So much so I have had to split my Japan posts into several different ones to tell you all about it. It probably also helps that I have really good wifi access here and everyone else is on their phones constantly too. Its so high tech! And now I have some semi-permeant travel buddies too. I am sure they won’t mind me saying, and will proabably agree with me, that it took me a little while to warm to them, with my loner personality. But now we have become good friends.
We are going to Tokyo
We are going to Tokyo because the girls love neon, skyscrapers, sushi, shops that sell adorably mad dresses, and the idea of cafés where you can dress up rabbits and pet them. We’re going because Tokyo sells itself as essentially heaven for teenage girls – but without the bummer of having to die first. You just have to fly over the tundra, instead.
And then, once we’ve done Tokyo, then we’re going on to the rural Gifu region, because I refuse to fly over so much tundra and not get a feel for Japan’s history. I haven’t told the girls that. I’ve vaguely said that there “might” be banana boats. I haven’t told them it’s a wholly landlocked, mountainous area. I’m sure I’ll be able to busk it, once we’re in a 17th-century onsen, or hot spring, admiring the architecture. I’m confident in my ability to bring history alive, once I’ve googled the history.
Another three hours of tundra.
We wake, jet-lag early, in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, with Mount Fuji battling with the Tokyo skyline to be the most beautiful thing visible from the window.
It’s amazing – one of those views of a lifetime – but it is ignored in favour of the whole family gathering in the bathroom, to marvel at the legendarily WTF Japanese toilets.
While those who are fans of Terminator wait for Skynet to become sentient, the news is that, in Japan, the toilets already are. When you walk into a cubicle, the toilet lid opens up as you move towards it – like a noble robot friend going, “Hey – here! You can poo in here, old buddy!” Like the early stages of a BDSM relationship, it can feel a little wrong, even though everyone involved is wholly consensual. Or, at least, programmed to be. We ignore the view and meet in the bathroom to marvel at the legendarily WTF Japanese loos.
Of course, everyone who goes to Japan knows about their 23rd-century toilets, but there are elements that even the most ardent Clive James fan will still not be aware of. In service stations, they have a guide on the wall that shows you which cubicles are occupied – so you can go straight to a free one. The Japanese seem to have an unholy terror of having to try a door with the traditional tiny fingertip nudge to see if it’s occupied. They have basically invented a Toilet Departures Board, so this need never happen.
Oh and there’s Mario kart racing in the street. For real. Where do I sign up?!