“Welcome to our hotel, we hope you will enjoy your stay” said the clerk, he was a young skinny guy around 20 who seemed to have a kind heart. “Now pleeeease, fill uuuuup thiiiis fooorm”, at that point I realized that everything he’s said so far was written on a piece of paper in front of him. I asked him “here, should I write my Canadian address or address of the hotel?”, he gave me a blank look and said “sorry, sorry”… I realized that the poor guy spoke very little English. At that point we started getting nervous. “Could those stories be true? Did fluent English become almost extinct in this part of the world?”. Having a Hotel clerk speak so little English certainly made those stories more believable.
When we opened the door to our room we burst out laughing. This was the smallest 2 person room I’ve ever seen. At one point we made a picture of me touching the 3 main elements of the room: The toilet door with my left hand, the front door with my right hand and the bed with my foot. The Air Conditioning Unit took up almost half of the room’s ceiling and the bathroom looked like something from outer space. The whole bathroom was a pre-fabricated plastic container that was put into the corner of the room, it rose 15 inches from the floor of the room and kind of freaked me out.
“Ok let’s go man, I’m hungry…”. Thing with my best friend is that food for him is not just food, it’s a sacred process. Any time Ivan chooses a place to eat he will pace back and forth from one restaurant to the next, discuss the various advantages and disadvantages of each place, then think out loud for about 5 more minutes, then say “no I just ate Chinese 3 days ago” and finally walk into a completely random place. Trick is to say “ok let’s go to this one” at that point he’ll definetly say “ok, no not that one for sure, so let’s go here!”
Anyways after about 25 minutes of walking we finally got into a peculiar looking restaurant, it looked like a 50s New-York deli with long counters and short round stools. When we got to the counter the waiter informed us that we have to order from the vending machine… At the entrance was a big dispenser like box with about 50 buttons, each had a drawing of a meal and the price. We chose the most delicious looking ones (once again I was tricked into buying the disgusting fish Hudon which I always try to avoid) and out came 2 paper checks.
When it was time to leave we couldn’t figure out how to open the door, we looked rather confused in front of this sliding door with handles. It wouldn’t open by itself and when we pulled the handles it wouldn’t open either, thankfully an old lady came from behind and PUSHED the door handle which turned out to be a button!
When we came outside a big smile appeared on my face. That Tokyo evening was magic. The warm humid air had an almost sweet ocean taste to it, it smelled delicious. Streets of Asakusa were lit up with a thousand lights,: Neon signs, advertising stands, cars and buildings, it all looked like a big Christmas tree which stretched for miles ahead. The sounds of friendly chatter, the “talking” traffic lights with their “walk now please!” and the usual ambient sounds of traffic mixed together in a distinctly Japanese composition. The climate was very different from what I have expected, it was much more tropical which gave the place an even more exotic feel.
I’ve been fascinated with Japan for a long time, I’ve read many articles, seen endless amounts of T.V shows and documentaries and studied the language for 4 months. So while standing on the street I felt euphoric. It’s as if I was watching my favorite band playing live in front of me…
We slowly walked back to the hotel and then I realized “oh man, but what about the money? We still can’t withdraw money from the ATMs”