What a fabulous weekend. Tim and I left the girls at a friend's house (the O'Connors rock!) and headed out for the New Sanno in Tokyo. The New Sanno is the Armed Services hotel for Japan. Anyone in the military, retired or active duty, and their families and friends are eligible to stay at this 4 star hotel for about $60 a night. The bar serves up a fair drink, the restaurants are top-notch and the rooms are comfortable and modern. I dream of being an adult Eloise and living permanently at the New Sanno.
Since most Japanese hotels charge per person (the cheap ones are about $100 a person in Tokyo), a family of four could go broke trying to see Nippon without this amazing perk. We have paid upwards of $350 for the "Ryokan (small traditional inn) experience". We "experienced" the hidden thrill of sleeping on 2 inch thick cotton futons on rock hard tatami mats in a 4x4 room with peeling wallpaper. On account of the hot mineral baths and free-flowing sake (aka, The Noodle Effect), you actually sleep really well for the first hour. Then the cartilege in your joints starts to break down.
To add insult to injury (literally), breakfast consists of some sort of cold, bony fish, rice and vegetables.
I complained to my Japanese class about bunking on the floor and they laughed at me. Not with me. At me. Apparently, we Americans are "too soft". Hmmmph. They also informed me that the really amazing Hyatt-type Ryokans have gourmet meals and super plush robes and better sake. Unbenownst to us (because we are illiterate and poor), we were frequenting the Best-Western style Ryokans. Oops. Mistakes were made.
Nonetheless, super swanky or not, the cold hard fact remains that you have to sleep on the floor. I will try most things in a foreign environment once. We have tried the Ryokans twice.
So the moral to this story is: Never pay $350 to camp. And never, never pay $350 twice to camp.