One of the primary reasons that Jason and I choose to go to Japan this summer was because Jason’s friend, Trent, is in the Marine Corp and currently stationed in Iwakuni, Japan. This was Trent’s second assignment in Japan (by request) but he and his family are leaving there in September (and have no current plans to request to return). We knew that another opportunity to go to a foreign country with a personal tour guide, translator, and chauffeur was unlikely so we seized it. Not to mention that we stayed one week of our two weeks at their house, thus eliminating the need to pay for accommodations for an entire week.
Upon arriving in Tokyo we checked into the Dai Ichi Inn Ikebukuro. I enjoyed this hotel and the location was great, about a 1 minute walk from the Ikebukuro train station. We chose this hotel for it’s affordable cost and for the fact that they allowed three people in one room, because while in Tokyo Trent stayed with us. It was actually a little difficult for me to find a hotel that could accommodate the three of us that was still affordable. Many of the hotels in Tokyo (except for pricey ones like Hilton) are designed primarily for businessmen and the rooms are very tiny and only include the bare essentials. I didn’t get any great pictures of this hotel, but just imagine a room with three twin beds lined up with about 6 inches in between and on the perimeter. There was also a skinny dresser, desk, a chair you could not pull out from the desk because there was no room, and a TV with only Japanese channels. The bathroom was very small and cramped but thankfully also had a separate vanity area outside the bathroom.
After being in Tokyo for three nights we traveled to Kyoto and stayed one night in a traditional Japanese inn, a ryokan. It was actually a woman’s house which she shared with her daughter and granddaughter. On the first floor were their living quarters, the dining room, the shared bath/shower facilities. The second floor had three guest rooms and shared toilet facilities. This was quite an interesting experience and I am very glad we chose to do this, even though it was pricey.
You can see our “beds” in this picture. They were the traditional futons. Upon arrival our room had a low table and four “chairs” which were floor cushions with backs on them. We went out to dinner and when we returned, our futons were all out and ready for us.
The picture below was taken right when we arrived at the inn. We were soaking wet from walking from the train station to the inn in the rain. We had a bit of trouble actually finding the inn so we got drenched. Our hostess, seen below, came up to our room and served tea and that mysterious jello-type thing from my earlier post. Below are the hostess and Trent laughing at me for not liking green tea.
Below are two other views of our room at the inn.
When we left Kyoto we headed to Trent’s home in Iwakuni. Here is a picture of his street….
and their home….
Their home is”Western-style” but of course, has things that are very different from what we are used to in America. There is no real oven, the “bathroom” is literally a room with a bathtub in it and also contains a shower…the floor has a drain, so you just close the bathroom door and take a shower in the room. The toilet area is a completely different room. They don’t have a dryer and from the amount of clothes I saw drying outside everywhere, I would guess that many people don’t have dryers. Also, the guest room we stayed in was the tatami room, much like the room at the inn in Kyoto. Here we also had futons.
We stayed here seven nights and took lots of short day trips to sights close to their house. Then Jason and I traveled alone back to Kyoto and stayed one night at Hotel Aronvert, which was by far the nicest accommodations we stayed in. I found this hotel the day before on Expedia and it was a good deal so we booked it. When we arrived we were pretty surprised at how nice it was then even more shocked to see how large our room was. Somehow we ended up with the largest room they offer.
It is hard to tell from that photo, but those are the beds and the other side of the room had a sitting area, as seen below. Dividing the two areas was a long desk/dresser/vanity area. There was also a large foyer, a bar area with fridge, a bathroom vanity area, a separate toilet room, and then a large room with shower and tub.
For those of you who have been dying to know…here is what the tub area looks like….
After the one night at that hotel we traveled back to Tokyo and stayed on last night at the Dai Ichi Inn, but this time we had a “double room” which means a room with one double bed.