Water, snacks and a white-gloved driver greeted us as we loaded into the van for the long drive to Kyoto. I fought off sleep as hard as I could...i was like a little kid that didn't want to miss a moment of her favorite program that doesn't come on until midnight. But the seduction of sleep was too overwhelming...i succumbed after only seeing 10 minutes or so of Osaka at night. The adrenaline rush returned once we disembarked at our hotel, Kyoto Tokyu.
I suddenly felt wide awake again. The hotel was beautiful and classy and everyone greeted us with deep bows and smiling faces...irrashaimashite! they said, sincerely. (welcome, in English). Since i didn't know how to bow properly, i just did my head nod thing said 'arigato' (thank you) profusely.
Meanwhile, Yumi bounced over to the front desk, got us checked in and instructed the bellman where to take our luggage. The rooms were beautiful...simple and elegant. Plush robes and slippers awaited us, as well as soft earth tones of beige, brown and tan. The far window had a sliding, rice paper shade...we all ran back and forth between rooms to check if they were the same...i had to take a photo of this one funny sign in the bathroom tho...
After we got settled in, 3 of us decided to take a short walk outside just to see what was around. (Stef stayed behind cuz she was too tired) It was dark and late and we were hungry so we ended up at the Royal Host restaurant across the street. Royal Host was pretty much like an IHOP type of place..real low key with soft booths. it kinda felt like home. The most appealing about it was the HUGE photos of desserts all over the walls, parfaits, sundaes, cakes, tarts...we were like YEAH! so anyway, we walk up in there and hold up 3 fingers to the hostess who quickly ran (i mean really ran) over to greet us.
The place was full of young people and they all turned to look at us 3 black women walking up in there...it was weird. so we sit down and look at our menus with superhuge pictures and no descriptions that we could understand. i guess the waitress saw as all confused and ran over again with the two words that would save us multiple times on this trip:
"Hai!" we yelled back.
so after going over all the menu items, which ran the gamut from steaks to bowls of noodles to sausages, we settled on tacos and dessert. yeah i was kinda ashamed that my very first meal in Japan was tacos...good lord. but they were good as hell...perfectly crunchy shell, great fillings....but my favorite thing about Royal Host: no tipping! in fact, that's everywhere in Japan. you don't tip anyone ever. They don't need that incentive in order to do a good job for you. They have such pride in their work and such a high work ethic that i was truly inspired...
As we left the restaurant, i got a chance to show off another phrase that i'd learned:
Gochiso sama deshita! (it was a real feast)
ok it wasn't a real feast but the hostess was surprised and appreciated my compliment. or she was just being appropriately polite and was thinking that i was a stupid, wretched gaijin who needs to go the hell home. I guess i'll never know.