The Japanese Really Do Eat Fish for Breakfast

Heated toilet seats are the best thing ever. It sounds ridiculous, but there you have it. The Japanese are on to something, and they have them everywhere here.

The toilets overall are extremely elaborate. They spray from behind and from in front – wherever you need cleaned. Some of them have a dry cycle (although frankly the water alone usually isn’t enough – it’s like a rinse cycle on your dishwasher). And some deodorize as well. This particular toilet also has a noise setting, so people can’t hear you using the toilet.

Sometimes the controls are cryptic, but usually there are pictograms to guide the user. One of the important settings is pressure. If the pressure is too high, you can feel violated by the toilet. Sometimes, however, you don’t know the pressure until it is too late. There should be a warning sign about that.

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Speaking of warning signs – they have warning signs everywhere, such as this toilet I found in the Shuzenji train station. I don’t know what these warnings state, but it isn’t unusual to find a warning not to sit on the toilet too long if you are old, or you may get burned (the joys of the heated toilet seats come at great cost). 

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And this was also hung in the same bathroom. Bathrooms are prime locations for warning signs. I suspect bathroom use correlates closely with overall mortality risk. Another frequently encountered sign cautions people to beware the temperature of the water, just in case, having survived the toilet, they might yet be scalded by that as well.

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This was in one of the public bathrooms in a hotel. I couldn’t figure out if it was hand sanitizer or mouthwash, but I appreciated the warning.

Anyway, we woke this morning at the ryokan to the sound of heavy rain all around us. As the deluge abated and the light grew, I took another visit to the onsen. 

There are two baths here. The first, as I mentioned, was cut from a giant boulder. 

This, on the other hand, was carved from the trunk of a massive tree. We relaxed for a time in the steaming water, feeling the smooth saturated wood below us.

With breakfast hour approaching, we removed ourselves from the spa and walked down the low-ceilinged halls to the dining room, hitting our heads periodically on poorly placed signs (these were regular signs, not warning signs, but perhaps they should have warned us about the signs!).

 Again here we had a traditional Japanese meal, in this case breakfast. Yes at the top of the photo, in the center you see fish. We did much better with this than the fish on a stick. On the other hand, the onsen egg (think egg poached in soy sauce) was a bit of a challenge.

Following breakfast, we walked the streets around the ryokan. A river nearby tumbles over rocks just upstream. The air is saturated with water, and I suspect that is just the natural state of things here – that we are in a rainforest.

There are other former ryokans here, since fallen into disrepair. And some buildings that appear unoccupied are in fact occupied, as indicated by electric meters. 

 

After the walk we checked out, and a shuttle from the ryokan took us to the express bus stop, where we easily found our way back to Mishima and the shinkansen. Less than three hours after leaving the ryokan we had arrived at the opposite, in very modern Tokyo (it was much less than three hours in fact, but I’m including some getting-lost time).

Of course it wasn’t yet check-in time when we arrived, so we dropped our bags at the hotel and embarked on a quest for lunch and exploration. 

Drizzle was falling and the air was chill as we stepped back out into the streets of Tokyo, so neither of us wanted to venture far afield. In the neighborhood of our hotel, we managed a visit to the advertising museum and to the Panasonic Home Store, where this kitchen caught my eye. I remember when that color was very popular during my childhood. Perhaps it is returning.

  

After a bit more aimless wandering, we finally checked into our hotel, where our view included the Tokyo Tower, a beacon standing aglow enshrouded in mist.

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