My daughter and I are at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. When one flies to Tokyo, one actually lands in Narita, about 90 minutes away from Tokyo by bus. As usual for our first day when we come to Japan, we are up at 4:00 am. Jet lag is a mysterious but predictable phenomenon. For this reason, we like to take the airport limousine to a nice hotel for the first night before we move on to Yokohama to visit family.
Japan seems to be very focused on the dangers of swine flu. When we landed, we had to wait for about 20 minutes while a team of masked quarantine officers in disposable coveralls checked everyone for symptoms. You were supposed to raise your hand if you felt sick. Every passenger had to fill out a form about where they had been, where they were going, and what symptoms they had or didn’t have. There was even a device set up that was supposed to monitor your temperature as you went through the line. The hotel made us fill out more forms about our health. I don’t really see how this could help.
When we first started coming to Japan 22 years ago, we would wake up before the rest of the household and walk to the Denny’s in Honomoku. This Denny’s is better than any Denny’s in the U.S. We started going there because we needed coffee, and Denny’s has coffee refills, what they call “Another Cup” service. The restaurant has parking underneath, like many in Japan, so it is above the hustle and bustle of the street, and is in fact, an oasis of American serenity (perhaps a contradiction in terms, I know). Both American-style and Japanese-style food is available, and I have never been disappointed in either. For some reason, they always have excellent papaya.
Since our first-day routine has shifted to Shinjuku we have other favorites. Last night we ate at a noodle shop with handmade udon (a thick noodle) about two blocks from the hotel. My wife and daughter had eaten there last time they were here. The food was excellent and reasonable. I don’t know the name of the restaurant, however, because there was no Romanji, only Japanese. I had kitsune udon, which has fried tofu on top.
(Actually, we went by this morning. It was closed, but the steel door said “Udon Sangokuichi”)
Today we will look for a sandwich and coffee shop in Shinjuku Station my wife and I visited last time we were here together. And then we will be on to Yokohama, perhaps after visiting Meiji Jingu shrine.
Note: We found the sandwich shop, which is called “Natural Beat Eat Cafe.” Here’s a picture: