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AN E-MAIL FROM MICHAEL
In the spring of 2005 we received the following e-mail from an American living in Japan. His name is Michael and he gave us some very enlightening thoughts on our way too brief visit to Japan and some helpful links.
I’m sorry, but I could not find YOUR name (just Cindy’s) in the reviews. At any rate, I read with great enjoyment your review of Japan. I have lived here for nearly 17 years and understood your message not just intellectually, but emotionally. Given the short period of time you had for Japan, I would say you made some fine choices. I will offer you some insights on the few areas you seemed a bit puzzled.
At the airport, there are riot police, but the people checking passports are security guards. The check is because of leftist Kakurokyo activities against the airport. In short, they don’t want an international airport, much less any expansion of it. If you look at the history of the airport, it has been a violent one. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20021016b1.htm The airport is rapidly expanding with construction of new and bigger terminals, and looks quite beautiful with loads of fine shops now. This is quite a contrast from what you saw during your visit.
I loved your interpretation of a Japanese style bathroom as “an expanded lavatory you would find on a commercial jet”. That was hilarious. They call them “Unit Baths”. They are self contained units that are quickly installed, and cleaning is a snap. Just spray everything down with the shower hose and you are done! I hate them, and they are pretty much everywhere except in very expensive apartments and homes. I am glad, however, that you had an opportunity to see a better bathroom at the Hyatt.
Yokohama was a fine choice, and it was good that you saw a real department store and how they organize them with food courts in the bottom, and finer restaurants on the top. It would have been nice if you had seen a little bit of the infamous China Town, as well. Yokohama is becoming more and more popular as a beautiful seaport getaway.
A word about the taxi drivers…the economy has changed quite a bit over the past 5 years, and not in a good way. As a result, a lot of men from other prefectures come to Tokyo to be taxi drivers. Some know the roads just a bit better than you do. Each time you get in, you take a chance on the knowledge of the driver. Upon occasion, however, you do find drivers who have a superb knowledge of the city. While most drivers do not know the Hard Rock Café per se, they do know the ROI building in Roppongi (which has stood for 35 years), that stands right in front of the Hard Rock Café. So, it is a matter of interpretation, I suppose. However, the guy that could not get you back to the Park Hyatt should have his license taken away. To miss this is like missing the Tokyo Tower, inexcusable.
I am not sure when you went to the Park Hyatt, but since that time perhaps, competition comes from the GRAND HYATT in the new Roppongi Hills.
http://tokyo.grand.hyatt.com/ The Roppongi Hills is a mamouth building that took out about 1/4 of the “old” Roppongi area. http://www.roppongihills.com/en/information/ On your next visit to Tokyo you won’t want to miss it. The New York Grill on the top of the Park Hyatt still remains one the top restaurants in the city. http://tokyo.park.hyatt.com/, and serves as the setting for the movie “Lost in Translation”, with Bill Murray.
The Ski Dome is no more. My friend, Andrew Fox, of Fox & Company is building a huge arcade and shopping complex on those grounds. They did have an excellent presentation on the Discovery Channel of how they made the Ski Dome. After watching that, I became convinced that if the ozone layer is ever depleted over Japan, Japanese engineers will build a huge bio-dome over Japan to protect it from the sun.
All in all, it looks like you had a well-rounded experience of Tokyo and the surrounding areas. Kyoto is worth a visit should you ever return.
Thanks for putting up your website. It is a nice contribution for everyone to enjoy.
Thank you very much, Michael! Excellent observations.