Sushi, sushi, sushi.

We had Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi all four days we stayed in Japan. Twice at the Shinjuku place in the big city, once at a smaller place closer to Christopher’s dorm near Kokobunji and once at a pricier place in Shibuya. The boys chose their favorite places but I personally thought the first place was the most fun. AND the cheapest!

Here are some photos of us at all the sushi places

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Christopher adding up the number of plates that we have. In these sushi restaurants, the plates are encoded, so all they have to do is come by with a scanner to see how much you owe.

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This was the second place near his university area.

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Meiji Shrine–Shibuya

The Meiji Shrine, located in the heart of one of Tokyo’s busiest districts, Shibuya, is a 134-acre forest park with a temple complex dedicated to a deified emperor and empress and was originally built in 1915 (notice the art deco detail on the lantern.). The original buildings were destroyed in air raids of Tokyo in WWII (we would come across this in Korea as well) but through public fundraising have been slowly rebuilt. Christopher took us to this shrine, which is so big we needed a map not to get lost.

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Akehabara—The Anime District.

One of the boys’ favorite places in Tokyo is naturally, Akehabara, also known as the anime district. Not only are there stores, bars, restaurants and arcades catering to anime, manga, hobby, electronics and  gaming interests in every way, there are a zillion lights. A very lively place.  It’s really something to go walking down that street and see all kinds of very very very interesting things.

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Christopher and Kyle check out the competition yo yo items.

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Pottie Prattle.

I know it’s a blog subject as old as Asia itself but the potties here are very very interesting. Somewhat startling as well. Of course you do have the standard toilet everyone’s familiar with. Sit and flush.  But during my travels to various ladies’ rooms in Japan and Korea (I had to go so much that Christopher began to admonish me to “Just hold it.” Which made me laugh and made it even harder to hold….) Learned quickly restaurants do not have a loo to use so if you have business to take care of do it at the station before you leave or you REALLY will need to hold it.)

But back to the potties. One of the first oddities I saw in Asia was in Korea, at Incheon Airport. Mind you, Incheon is not some backwoods airport, it is super sleek, ultra modern, with sweeping architecture and stunning design. Incheon  has won best airport in the world for ten years in a row by the global airport rating system. And it deserves it–cool, space age, a monorail, mall, even skating rink–all in its confines. Very impressive.

But I thought I had gone to the men’s room by accident when I first opened the door and saw this. It’s the women’s equivalent of the urinal.A small bidet looking thing right on the floor. Say what? For ladies???

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Unsure of what to do, I went to the next stall looking for a real pottie. No. They were all this style. I call it the squattie pottie. There was only one “regular” pottie, and it was “reserved” for handicapped and disabled. Yup. Unsure of what to do, I held it.

In our Hoegi Korea hotel room, the toilet and the shower were in the same room, which is perfectly fine. Just close the lid while you are taking a shower and it’s all good.

There was only one really strange place at the Seoul/Guri station, the stop for the ski bus. All the toilets were regular ones, but there was no PAPER anywhere. Not holders, nothing. There was only an intercom. And when you pressed the button a guy answered in Korean! In the ladies’ room! Quite unnerving. No paper meant I had to drip dry but I didn’t care. Just wanted to get the heck out of there before the man behind the voice showed up. When Kyle asked his Korean friend about it, even the friend didn’t know what that was. No paper, rolls or anything. Just an intercom button. What the heck!

But in Japan, that’s where things in the water closet department got interesting. They are really really quite — what is the word–fastidious about their toileting in Japan. You can’t even believe it.  At our hotel in Fussa we had the deluxe model of “spa pottie.” It looks like this:

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As you can see there are all kinds of controls and it is in Japanese. So you have to press the buttons and see what happens. One has a sprayer which can shoot spray upwards. You can control the direction and volume of the sprayer. It might be ideal for ladies. Another button is a bidet that washes the *cough*  entire area. Then you can press air dry! Best of all, it all happens while you are seated on a WARMED up seat. This sure was nice when we were out in some really cold areas and needed to use the jon. They also have a special handle direction for Number 1 and Number 2. This is for water saving measures I’m told.

In one of Christopher’s school buildings, there was this fancy pottie. It automatically played sounds as you sat. You can choose from flushing or ocean, chimes or music. It has a control to turn the sound off and on.

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In Japan, at a large, ancient shinto shrine in the center of Tokyo, they had this one. It puts the comfort in comfort station. It was a work of art. Look how beautifully the stalls are designed! And the door handles. Gorgeous. I had to sit there and admire it for a while. And of course snap pictures when no one was walking by. The boys thought I had extra business when I was starting to take so long but I was really just sitting there enjoying the moment.

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Yet in the very next place in Japan I’d be dismayed to have to use a squattie pottie. The dichotomy is puzzling. It feels like you “go” (heh) between mad extremes. One minute you have these five-star heated spa-like  Luxury Lavatories  with air dry and directional spray and music and the next minute you are trying not to piddle on yourself in a squattie pottie.

Japanese fast food.

There’s lots of interesting vending machines here. Some are really high tech but nearly all dispense hot coffee in a can.

This was a lunch I had which was served at a so-called fast food chain and was really delicious. You take the egg and mix it in with the meat, green onions and rice and it cooks fine because the rice is steaming hot.

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Shibuya.

Shibuya is a super busy Tokyo district. At Shibuya, you can see the busiest crosswalk scramble in the world. You try to scramble with the crowds or you can also watch it from a Starbux which we did. The bronze statue of the dog is dedicated to the dog who came to to this spot every day for ten years to look for his owner who had died in the bombings of Hiroshima. One day he died, and it was right here, so they built a memorial to him.

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