#TBT: Japan April 2005: Laundry in Nagoya, Travel to Hakone, Hakone Ryokan

Laundry Day!

We woke up at 7am and packed everything except our week’s worth of dirty laundry. Went down to the front desk and got directions to the coin laundromat (this place is way too fancy-shmancy to have its own laundry facilities on site). The girl at the desk said it was about a 20 min walk and, after I valiantly (and stubbornly) tried to carry my share of the clothes we needed to wash, we decided to take a taxi. The girl in the main lobby would not let me hold my own bag, which turned out to be a good thing because the taxi driver had NO idea of what we were talking about or where this place was, even with a map. And even with the main lobby girl’s help, he still had to ask for directions as we got closer.

The washing machines in Japan are decidedly smaller than in the US and with that, along with Joe wearing clothes that are significantly larger than the average Japanese (and mine only slightly smaller), we wound up having to do 9 days’ worth of clothes in 4 loads (grin). Took about 2 hours, give or take. Prices were ¥400 (“big” washer…yeahright), ¥300 (medium) and ¥200 (small), and ¥100 per 10 minutes of gas dryer time.


“How to use the washing machine,” with cute little mermaid character to help you follow the precautions


“How to use the dryer” too.


At one point, I think the 3 of us were using every machine in the room


Proof that it’s REAL gas in the gas dryer…see the flame?

After our laundry was done, we went back to our hotel and did our final packing. Japan has a system where you can mail big packages, including luggage, to another destination. So for our next leg of the trip, which was only for 2 days, we packed our carry-on luggage and sent our “big” luggage on to Tokyo Disneyland, which was our destination for Sunday. It was less than $25 per bag and saved us the hassle of shlepping our big pieces with us (MODERN-DAY NOTE: Japan still offers luggage transportation services and let me tell you, it is WONDERFUL and SO convenient! We used Takkyubin, which is the company that Japan Rail Pass recommends. Because their logo is a mother cat holding a kitten, we started referring to it at the pussycat service).

After finally checking out, we had bell services hold our carry-ons (which still weighed a ton…Joe’s backpack was a good 35 pounds and his overnight bag was probably well over 40 pounds) while we had lunch at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant. The food was OK, although part of the meal was somewhat unidentifiable (grin).

Picked up our luggage and made our way to the train station. Spent quite a bit of time looking for postcards as well as for the place where we could make our Shinkansen reservations. Finally got that done and went on the Shinkansen for our 2-hour train ride to the Odawara station of Hakone.

We had misjudged the amount of time it would take to get to our next hotel (MODERN-DAY NOTE: Joe wrote about the issue in his post called “My Most Embarrassing Travel Mistake“), which was actually a ryokan (Japanese-style bed & breakfast) called “Hotel Taiseikan,” that also served us dinner. So we bought some bento boxes (pre-made meals in a box) in case we got there after the 6:30pm “last serving” deadline (and since I’m typing this at 6:55pm on the train from Odawara, I don’t think we’re gonna make it (wink).

Later on…

Well, it’s now 9:05pm and no, we didn’t make it anywhere near 6:30pm, but after our arrival at 7:50pm, they said they would serve us in our room at 8pm. After Joe called to let them know we would be late, they kept their ONE employee who (kinda, sorta) spoke English, so she could serve us. And what a dinner it was – I think there were 10 courses all together! 2 or 3 kinds of soup, and rice and Japanese noodles and vegetables and meats and fish and geez, I don’t remember what else. Oh yeah…cooked baby squid. I’m proud to say that I did TRY the baby squid…and hated it (wink). We specifically asked ahead of time for meals without sashimi for me…so at least I didn’t have to worry about anything raw(MODERN-DAY NOTE: my culinary tastes have broadened TREMENDOUSLY since 2005 and, short of raw horse and whale, there is very little I will not eat in Japan nowadays). Steve has gone to Morimoto in Philly (the place run by The Iron Chef) and he says a meal like that would have cost about $200 each at a restaurant. Usually they would serve us course by course, but since we had gotten there so late, they gave us everything at once. Here’s an idea of the spread they gave us:


I have no idea what I was holding in my chopsticks but, even if it was not raw, there was NO WAY I was gonna eat it.

Our “room” (more like a freakin’ condo!) is HUGE:


As you enter, there’s a 4’x11′ entry foyer where we leave our slippers (we already left our shoes near the front desk…the amazing thing was that when we’d leave our room and go to the hotel lobby, our shoes [and ONLY our shoes, no one else’s shoes] were already out, waiting for us! Anyway, you have to walk either barefoot or just in socks in the rooms…Japanese tradition, plus shoes or even slippers would ruin the delicate tatami floors)


There is a 8’x8′ entry room that we used for our luggage (sorry it’s blurry)


This is our 15’x18′ bedroom/eating room


The beds are Japanese-style futon mattresses on the floor, by the way. Not nearly as uncomfortable as you’d think. Either that or we were just too exhausted to care, by the end of the day.


This was a 6’x21′ porch that overlooked a garden and waterfall (we didn’t get to actually SEE the garden & waterfall until the next morning…but we heard the waterfall all night long. Made you have to pee. And the toilet was 20′ down the hall, in the parts of the room/condo that weren’t heated. With overnight temps in the 40’s. Oh joy.)


and a 15′ hallway that led to 2 of the 4 double closets on the right and a water closet (with a heated seat on the toilet) on the left (from this picture…I’m at the far end of the hallway…the entry foyer is the opening on the left side and 8′ x 8′ “luggage” room is directly in front of me, at the end of the hall). By the way, you see where the archways of the rooms are? Joe and (especially) Steve hit their heads on those ALL the time…..


Water closet with the weirdest toilet tank water-refill system we ever saw…the water was fed through a pipe to be OVER the tank and then poured in, like a water fountain.

Nearly all of this (except the water closet) has tatami mat flooring. The only thing we haven’t found yet is a shower

Tomorrow is Saturday and I believe we’re going to visit the Japanese-style baths. Joe found something like a Japanese-style “bath theme park,” where you can wear a bathing suit instead of the normal nude bathing. Good thing, huh?

Joe is trying to set up the computer for dial-up here in Hakone so I can get this note out. If you can read this, it worked (grin). More when I can…

Saturday morning…well, the good new is that we found our room with the tub. We just didn’t know how to use the doorknob (grin):


This hallway has closets on the right side, with extra blankets and pillows. At the end was what we thought was just a wall with wooden slats for decoration.


But nope! Turned out one of the slats was actually the “latch” to open what was not a wall, but a door that lead you into:


A modern-day sink setup. And if you walked through that tiny room, you discovered this:


A Japanese-style bath, made out of rocks! You sit on the little wooden stool, wash yourself and rinse with the bamboo buckets that are next to the tub (there are separate faucets, outside of the tub, to get the water from), and then sit and soak and contemplate in the rock tub, which is fed by the hot spring water.

The bad news is that Joe still can’t get the dialup to work, so I’m not sure when y’all will be able to read this.


Update…he got it to work! Yippee!

What Medications Should You Bring With You When Flying?

Preparing for a airplane trip can be stressful. There are so many rules to follow when packing and now you’ve waited until the last minute and are scrambling around gathering clothes, electronic gadgets, tickets and whatever else you want to bring with you. To help keep me organized, I have a Microsoft Word document called “Packing List” that I print before my trips longer than a weekend (Sharon still laughs at me for doing this). (Note from Sharon – Well, yeah! I can’t believe that for as often as we travel, you still need a list?!?!?!) The first page is mostly clothes and things I’ll tend to forget like an umbrella and backpack. The second page is toiletries and medications. The last page is my final checklist for things I absolutely can’t forget. The final three items are:

Continue reading “What Medications Should You Bring With You When Flying?”

There Are New Restrictions For Traveling to Cuba – Here’s What They Mean

This past Friday there was a formal announcement regarding some of the regulations for Americans’ travel to Cuba that could potentially affect many people who were

Cuba01
Riding in an antique car in Old Havana

considering visiting there in the future. Although the regulations will not go into effect for at least a few more months, the changes still bring up basic questions about Cuba-bound travel that originates in the U.S.

Here’s a brief history of Americans’ more recent ability to once again visit the country just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, and what the new rules will mean, both in the shorter and longer terms.

Continue reading “There Are New Restrictions For Traveling to Cuba – Here’s What They Mean”

Visiting The Spots in Salzburg, Austria Where They Filmed “The Sound of Music” (Without a Tour!)

I’ve been a fan of “The Sound of Music” (SOM) movie for pretty much my whole life. My first attempt at improvised harmony was to “Edelweiss” when I was 10 (my dad was SO PROUD!), and I have memories of singing “I Am 16 Going on 17” when I was, like, 3 or 4, and thinking someone that age was SOOOO OLD!☺ Visiting Salzburg, Austria, and the locations where they filmed parts of the movie, has been a bucket list item of mine for YEARS. So when Joe suggested in mid-late 2015 that we go there in mid-late 2016 as part of my “‘Ending with a zero’ birthday year,” I jumped at the chance.

In researching where to go and what to see, my first place for research was not a what or Continue reading “Visiting The Spots in Salzburg, Austria Where They Filmed “The Sound of Music” (Without a Tour!)”

Our Weekly Recap: 6/4/17 – 6/10/17

Hello, friends! In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Our Weekly Recap 5/28/17 – 6/3/17

Hello, friends! In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of our posts this week:

Joe wrote about:

Sharon wrote about:

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

For Newbies: How To Not Fry Your Electronics When You Travel Out Of The Country

You’re finally going to do it! You’ve saved enough money, vacation time, frequent flyer miles and/or hotel points to take that once-on-a-lifetime trip to London, Tokyo Disneyland, South Africa, Niagara Falls, Paris or some other place you’ve always dreamed about. Your stuff is all packed and your itinerary is all ready. But here’s a question – are you prepared to charge your electronics there? Your phone, tablet, laptop, curling iron, electric toothbrush? Because not all electrical plugs around the world are the same.

Believe it or not, there are currently FIFTEEN different types of electrical outlets in use around the world and which one is used in the place(s) you’re visiting will vary from
country to country – there’s a list of them all, with photos, if you go to the website on

Continue reading “For Newbies: How To Not Fry Your Electronics When You Travel Out Of The Country”