|The Big City|
Maura didn't expect much from Japan. (She doesn't know why.) Yet the section of Tokyo where our ryokan was located was quite a treat. The neighborhood was cute and clean, with plants and mini-gardens adorning the street. The alleys were also filled with-of all things-vending machines. Toyko is the land of the vending machine. Everything you can imagine is sold in them. And we mean everything (sodas, batteries, cassette tapes, etc.)
Our hotel was a Japanese Inn catering to tourists, which meant you had to observe custom but that the staff wouldn't get their kimonos in a wad if we didn't. Our room was super cool, with a tiny ante-chamber with a sink and space for slippers (which were provided.) Inside, sliding doors shielded the closets. The tatami mats made the room smell like a haystack. (sort of) We served ourselves some tea and then indulged in a wonderful Japanese style bath.
You go down to the bath in your robe and slippers. Then you shower, resting on wooden stools while you pour warm, soapy water from the large wooden bowls. When you have sufficiently washed the grime from your bod, into the heated waters you go, up to your neck in hot water. UUUUUUMMMMMMMmmmmm. We're relaxing just writing this -- then back to your room, where you collapse in a gellied heap.