Having arrived at Haneda airport outside Tokyo, Bill snagged the photo above. We made our way through hundreds of people at immigration pretty quickly, retrieved our bag, breezed through customs, and began our three errands before leaving. The first was to pickup our Japan Rail Passes which was another long line but went pretty quickly. There was an ATM nearby so got necessary yen. The last was to retrieve our mobile wifi Bill had ordered. He was told there were two offices which could be right. The first had an extremely long line which was moving at a snail’s pace. The kind young clerk monitoring the crowd told me it was the right office, but then Bill went up to him with the info he had been sent and the young man then sent us upstairs. That was a blessing as there was only one other person in line. Bill quickly met me back downstairs where we fired up our cell phones and then proceeded to the monorail. The ride was included in the train pass.
With impeccable timing the next ride to the train station we needed came within two minutes and was an express. The clean quiet ride took about fifteen minutes. The next station was a bit more confusing as we needed to be sure we were headed in the right direction on the green line. A train quickly arrived and three stops later we descended. Where to go next was confusing as we needed the correct exit to get to the hotel. We also were confused as to how to get through the turnstiles to exit as everyone was using a single fare ticket which we didn’t have. Finally we just walked through while it was open from a different passenger though the two flaps slapped our thighs as we slipped through. The app we were using seemed lost as well. A sign indicated which exit for the hotel but the app was having us go differently. We walked errantly until we asked a local for assistance. He spoke English and very kindly took us out of his way to guide us in a different direction.
The hotel is attached to another building where we took an elevator to floor four where the front desk is. The very humble clerks checked us in using some English. We were offered a choice of bathroom extras and chose only some bath sponges. Bill also took a coffee pack. Upstairs in the eighth floor we found our clean modern room. Having to pee I immediately went to the bathroom and sat down unexpectedly on a very warm toilet seat! Nice! There are also options to run water over the nether regions, spray the butt, and regulate water pressure.
The bathroom also had wrapped toothbrushes and toothpaste, q-tips, razors, and folding plastic brushes. On the bed were cotton “bathrobes” which buttoned down the front and I used as a nightgown. It really looked like an extra long man’s pajama top. Slippers were right inside the door.
Then it was dinner time! Back in the next building are several restaurants. We found one with ramen noodles and entered, though not at all sure what to do or how to order. I just pointed at what the woman in front of me had, fresh thick noodles in a broth, and then the server asked in English what size. We were given a small bowl of soy broth on the side and opted for a large fried onion, carrot, and mystery ingredient ball. After paying we added some scallions and what might have been leftover fried batter. I sprinkled some on noodles and went to sit down. Bill had two tickets for something and decided they must be drinks. He tried to get a stein of beer but a local woman explained in Japanese that we could have a glass of water which she then filled for us. Once we sat back down she suddenly reappeared and explained that the scallions and bit of fried batter were to be put on top of the sauce in the small bowl. She removed the ones from my noodles using my chopsticks and relocated them properly. Thirty seconds later she returned with a small bowl of more and set them on my tray. So kind!
The noodles are extremely long and difficult to manage with chopsticks. I noticed an elderly man not far away who had the same dinner as I, so I watched him for guidance. He seemed tickled that I did so and quickly his wife turned to look at me. I managed to wrap a wad of sloppy noodles around the chopsticks enough to dip them into the sauce and take a bite letting the remainder slide back into the broth.
Everyone is so kind, humble, and seem to feel honored to assist. The most striking moment was when the elevator stopped and the doors opened right across from the front desk and all three clerks looked up, bowed slightly, and mumbled something. As no one entered or exited the doors shut and we continued upwards. It was as though we stopped just so they could show us respect.