On my way home from China I stopped-off in Tokyo for one day of meetings. It’s an awesome place, filled with great people. But that’s another whole post.
We stayed at the Hotel Villa Fontaine Roppongi, which was nice. It wasn’t the most convenient to get to from Narita, though. I took a $38 bus ride followed by a $24 cab. Ouch! Coming from China where you can take an hour long cab ride for $10, $60+ really stung! If our flight had landed earlier we could have taken the bus closer to our hotel and saved the cab. But the hotel was nice. The room was a nice size by Japanese standards. Fast wired internet was included, and the room was very comfortable. There was a nice HDTV with lots of HD content…none of which was in English. Oh well.
After meetings on Friday, I went out to eat with our local salesman. We decided on a grill-it-yourself place. We walked into the small restaurant and all the staff started shouting something…I’m guessing it was akin to “Welcome to Moe’s!”
We ordered some Asahi on draft while he perused the menu, which was all in Japanese, without a single picture anywhere. Good thing I trust the man! Below, from top right:
- Beef – It was marinated in something like a teriyaki sauce, and was quite delicious.
- Horse – there were three cuts (neck, belly and leg), and all were consumed RAW. Yea. I had one sliver of each, and that was plenty. The leg actually tasted pretty good, but no thanks.
- Beef Tongue – I’ve had this before, and it’s not bad. The trouble with grilling your own food, though, is that you’re probably not as good a chef as…well…a chef. Plus tongue should be cooked “wet” (covered in water, etc), not grilled. So it was quite tough. The flavor isn’t bad, but it seemed an odd choice for this kind of restaurant.
- Chicken – I don’t think they did anything to it at all, but at least it was a good piece of white meat.
- Beef Intestines – I’ve had pork intestines, and I can now attest that they taste just like beef intestines. Both taste exactly like what comes out of them. OMG…I don’t understand why people do this to themselves!
You cook things in the center, then move them off to the edge where they’ll cool a bit, but stay warm. It’s actually a nice system for quickly cooking bite-sized bits.
There was a distinct lack of vegetation. We had a small bowl of potato salad to share, and that was it. Not even rice.
So that was Friday night, and I was headed home on Saturday. My flight didn’t leave till 4pm, so I had some time to kill in the morning. I got up, and had a quick breakfast. They have a buffet literally in the lobby of the hotel. It was a bit odd, but the high-top tables worked well. Looking for something light, I just grabbed a bowl of cereal; corn flakes to be precise. I wanted a little sugar on top, and there was a bowl right next to the cereal. What I didn’t notice was that the bowl of white crystals was also next to the boiled eggs. I took a bite and thought “these are the nastiest corn flakes I’ve ever eaten!!!!” Doh! Salt! Take 2.
I checked-out of the hotel and walked down the street to the ANA Intercontinental hotel, just a couple blocks away. As I walked out of the VF, I saw their glass walled smoking booth outside, with this sign. I have no idea what those two people are doing, but I don’t think they’re smoking.
The Narita airport “limousine” stops at the ANA, so that’s the best way to get to the airport. It’s really just a nice Greyhound bus, but it had wifi, which was quite helpful as you’ll see. I bought my bus ticket, left my bags with the bellman, then headed north towards the Imperial Palace.
I took a bunch of photos…see the thumbnail gallery below. While I was in the gardens, I was running through the time line in my head and nearly had a heart attack. It was 12:25 when I realized that I should have booked the 12:30 bus instead of the 1:30 bus. For some reason I had it in my head as I bought the ticket that my flight was at 5:00, but it was really at 4:00. Given that the bus ride can take 1:30, it could be 3:00 before I got to the airport, and they’d literally be boarding when I arrived. NOT GOOD! But there was no way I was going to get on the 12:30, so I tried to relax and continue enjoying the gardens.
My last task before reaching the hotel was to get a shot of me and the Tokyo Tower. My kids are big fans of the movie Cars, and there’s a great little “short” called Tokyo Mater. In the short story, Mater is a drift racer and has to race up Tokyo Tower. It’s very cute; check it out on YouTube. ”Domo arigato, Mr. Tomato” Brilliant! I couldn’t seem to find anywhere to get a clean shot of the tower, and I didn’t have time to get any closer. The kids thought it was cool, though. :)
From there I pretty much ran to the hotel, changed out of my very sweaty clothes and hopped on the bus. Using wifi on the bus I was able to check-in to my flight and get a mobile boarding pass in case I didn’t have time to print a paper copy at the airport. Thankfully, since it was Saturday, the bus only took 1:00 to get to the airport instead of 1:30…so I had a whopping 0:30 to burn. As an extra special bonus, the Sky Club at NRT has showers…but that’s another post. I hope you enjoy the pix.
Notice that there are two pages of thumbnails, so to see the last pix you’ll need to click on “2″.
I put the map marker on the palace grounds. Just zoom in and switch to the satellite view.