Friday, December 07, 2007

Hotel Bliss

Being the swinging, crazy bachelor I am, I am spending the night in a hotel. Alone. In the middle of nowhere. Since I have nothing better to do, I am going to tell you about Japanese hotels. The difference between in Japan and the United States can be summed up just be examining the hotels that populate each country.

The hotel I am in now is small. Not the smallest hotel I have been in but definitely not the biggest. The room is about 9ft x 8ft and has a bathroom that is about as big as an airplane toilet plus a shower. There is a tiny mini fridge, a 12" TV, a tea set, two pairs of slippers, and two pairs of pajamas. I think the bed is a full and there is a chair off to the side of the room near the desk, upon which I am typing this. Oh yeah, this is a double room.

Americans crack me up because whenever we go on vacation, the first thing out of our mouths upon opening the hotel room door is, "Ohhh, this is a nice big room." It is as if we are going to magically fill the entirety of a 15ft x 15ft room with stuff accumulated by two people and a couple of days of shopping. Maybe it is just me but the American obsession with size and space is a tad odd. I will be the first to admit that I can't wait to get back to a full size kitchen and a queen size bed but I will also say that having lived in Japan, I do not need that much. I have done well on a twin sized mat and with a gas burner and a microwave and rice cooker for two years. Except about six months ago, I got all spaced aged and bought a crock pot. I have gotten by without an oven, though I miss one and I do miss the comfiness of my cloud-like mattress on my big bed, but really, those aren't things I need.

The second things Americans look at when entering a hotel room is the TV. Did they get a good sized TV? Does it have a VCR or DVD player? My question is, if you are in a hotel, why in the world do you even need a TV? Go out and explore the alien landscape that you find yourself in. Sure a TV is nice but if you are on vacation, do you need it? If you are on a business trip, I can understand wanting a TV but still, why not go out and explore?

After basking in the glory of the TV, Americans then turn it on to see how many and what channels it gets. And lets admit it, we all scroll past the Pay-Per-View to see what porn is playing. I honestly think more porn would be watched in hotel rooms if Pay-Per-View didn't attach itself to your room or your credit card. Japanese hotels cleverly skirt this issue. On every floor near the elevators, you will find a little upright rectangle that looks like it could be an ashtray but it isn't. Oh yeah, no smoking in American hotels, in Japan, just don't smoke in bed. Anywho, this little ashtray looking gadget has a money slot that you feed a ten dollar bill into and having eaten your cash, the machine spits out what looks to be a cheap calling card. You then take this card back to your hotel room and pop it in the box on top of the TV set and you have yourself at least an hour of pixelated censored hardcore porn. Yes, in Japan you are not allowed to view uncensored porn. But at least when you run for President no one can track down your porn viewing habits by looking at your hotel invoices and credit card history. This is a good thing because the last Japanese Prime Minister before Abe-san is rumored to have had a voracious appetite for porn.

Weird stuff to be found in a Japanese hotel room:

1)Tea packets and a hot water maker.
2)Pamphlets advertising what porn is viewable for the day.
3)A flashlight near the bed in case of earthquake.
4)A bright red rectangle on the hotel room window to let the fire department know
that there may be an occupant in that room near the window in case of a fire or
5)This room doesn't have one but I have been in rooms that have emergency rope
ladders in a steel box in the corner to climb out the window with in case of a fire
or earthquake. Ever get the feeling like Japanese people are into earthquake
6)Most hotel rooms locate the radio, alarm clock, lighting, and air conditioner
controls all in a tidy little panel at the head of the bed.
7)Every hotel I have ever been in here comes with a bidet and toilet seat warmer
called a "warmlet". Japan is obsessed with bidets but that shouldn't come as a
surprise because the Japanese are neat freaks.
8)To go along with the room slippers, there are also several packs of slipper sheets,
think of them as toilet seat sanitary covers for slippers. Yup, clean freaks.

One other odd thing about Japanese hotels. Many of them have a strange habit of insisting that you give your room key back to them whenever you leave the hotel. I know this is so you don't lose it or attempt to make copies of it but still, it is just a strange thing that most of them make you do. For one reason or another, I hate this rule and make it a habit to sneak out of hotels so that I don't have to turn over my room key. I have no idea why it bothers me so much but I will say that the sneakiness of it all adds a James Bond-ish mystique to all of my hotel stays. The one thing James Bond had going for him in most of his movies is that he wasn't the only white guy in at least a ten mile radius, for me, this fact just adds to the difficulty level of the game.

The one thing I will give to American hotel rooms is that they are kept looking new and up-to-date. Japanese hotel rooms, especially the not so fancy ones, all look like they were made in the 60s, 70s, or early 80s. I am currently in an 80s room at the moment.

I guess the best way to sum up this whole post is that Americans value two things above all. They like space and they like frills. They like knowing that they are getting their money's worth. Japanese people are much more utilitarian. Size is almost never a concern and the Japanese as a whole, are not known to be the type who cheat people out of money so the worrying about getting shafted out of your money isn't too much of a concern either. There are other things too but it is funny that the differences in culture can be seen so clearly in something so mundane as a hotel room.

In other news, I found out who will be replacing me and have emailed him. He has a very strange name but I am not going to post it here because I don't want him finding my blog if he hasn't already. You see, I need him to buy all of my old stuff off of me before he finds out how much my town and Peppy suck. I feel for him because not only does he have a goofy name but he is getting stuck in a tiny town with a lousy job, however at the same time, I feel for my wallet too.

I don't mean to be complaining about my town because I like it a lot but I don't think I am normal. I know Toby hates it and no other foreigners I have talked to seem to like living there either. Who knows, maybe my replacement will come to enjoy the little place too.


At 4:06 PM, Blogger inguanacheeks said...

hey I read all of your stories I just thought it would be easier on one comment on one blog. But anyways, I thought it was interesting to hear how different it is in hotels ect...

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Mogwai said...

Thanks! I am glad you enjoy the posts. Do I know you or did you just stumble on to me at random?

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

Hi there. I am a random-stumbler / ex-peppy's teacher. I know your back in America now but it's been interesting to read about your experiences with KTC. I especially liked your comment about how mundane objects exemplify the difference in culture. I too have found that more often than not it is the difference in these everyday experiences that contrast the cultural differences between Japan, and in my case, Canada.

It's too bad you didn't have a good time in your posting with Peppy's.

Anyhow, I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future. Good luck with the new job too!


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