All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Side Note About Japanese Hotels

One anxiety Western travelers have about visiting Japan comes from the notion that the Japanese all live in tiny little dollhouses and that Japanese hotel rooms are about the size of your average Western shoebox. False. While it's true that in general people in Japanese cities operate in smaller spaces than Westerners, the Japanese avoid feeling cramped by using that space incredibly efficiently, and unless you stay at a very traditional Japanese inn (a ryokan, which we'll discuss at the end of this entry), you can expect the same kind of amenities as you would in a hotel at home with just a few delightfully Japanese twists.

Here are several photos from the hotels where we stayed throughout Kansai to give you a taste of what you can expect.


As you can see, though the bed in my room in Hiroshima is a bit smaller than it might be in an American hotel, it's certainly big enough for me. There's no space for doing cartwheels in the room, but I have everything I need.



One interesting feature shown here is that the sink and showerhead both operate from the same line. The handle on the right side of the sink changes the water flow from one to the other while the handle on the left controls the temperature, and as always in Japan, there are plenty of pictures to help you figure it out.



Speaking of pictures, the average Japanese toilet seat has more features on it than my car does, so use the diagrams to help you figure out what's what.


This particular toilet seat features two different style bottom-rinsers with adjustable water pressure, a "powerful deodorizer," and a little button that turns on a water-running noise in case you are little bit hazukashii.


If you spill some green tea on your shirt and need to rinse it out, have no fear! Your Japanese hotel room likely comes equipped with a little laundry line like this in the shower. Just pull it out and secure the plastic end into the fixture on the other side of the shower.


In leiu of a coffee pot, your Japanese hotel room will have a tea pot and a pair of slippers. You don't have to wear these if you don't want to (especially since they might be too small if you have big man feet), but remember that it's impolite to wear your shoes in the room. Kick them off by the door and go in your stockings or a pair of your own slippers.


Most of the helpful brochures in your room will be in both Japanese and English for the convenience of foreign visitors, such as this pamphlet on "How to Internet."


I have not seen a trouser press in an American hotel room since they invented perma-press in about 1987, but in case you have a really old pair of pants, here you go!


All of our hotels in Japan included a breakfast buffet with a combination of Eastern and Western cuisine that put the stale bagels and cold cereal at an American hotel to shame.


As you can see, my room in Fukuoka was considerably larger than the one in Hiroshima and even included a little sitting area.



No need to call down to the front desk as everything you need for a comfy stay is already provided. This little basket of amenities includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush, a body sponge, a razor, shaving cream, and cue tips.


I particularly liked the brown-and-creme fixtures in this bathroom.

In Nagasaki, I actually got a room with two beds -- one for each night we were there!



And the pink fixtures in the Nagasaki bath were adorable.


Here's a more complex than necessary bath arrangement with one handle for the faucet-to-shower switch, one to adjust the temperature, and another one to adjust the flow. Whew!


A Mitsubishi elevator -- to take you to your floor in style!

Now if you do stay in a ryokan, be prepared for your experience to be a bit more authentically Japanese. First of all, you'll notice the sliding doors and tatami floor mats. While it's impolite to wear your shoes in any hotel room, it is extremely bad form to wear them on tatami. There's a spot in the entryway to check your shoes for slippers, so please do.



You'll also quickly notice that there is no bed in your ryokan room. That's because you'll be sleeping on a futon -- a thin Japanese mattress that is laid on the tatami floor and extremely comfortable. Your futon and other bedding are stored in the cabinets you see here, so you can either set them up yourself or the hotel staff will come and lay them out for you while you're at dinner. Also notice the low Japanese table. The cushions stored under the futon cabinets are your "chairs." You can sit on your knees in the traditional Japanese style or cross-legged if that's more comfortable for you.


If you're in a ryokan that provides dinner for you, you can expect a more traditional Japanese cuisine, and you'll also find that most of the guests in the ryokan will have traded their street clothes for a yukata -- a cotton Japanese robe -- which it's appropriate for you to don and wear around the ryokan as well.

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