Encapsulated

        We leave Hong Kong, after ~2 weeks with Amandaís family. There were no fatalities or even tears; Iíd call this a pretty damn successful family (and me) affair. Unfortunately, Amandaís got work tomorrow so we wonít see each other for a few days. Iím more than a little fond of this strange little lady:)
        Iím on to Japan, for a ridiculously quick visit. I actually entertain the idea of trying to rush through Tokyo and have one of my two full days here for something else; looking at the dozen+ things Iíve starred in my travel book and a taste of Tokyo navigation gets rid of this silly idea.
        Strange and stranger are my ďhotelĒ and ďdinner.Ē
        By hotel, I mean capsule hotel. I thought staying at one would help me learn about efficient use of space while also being one of the cheapest possible options north of a park bench. So far, Iíve ascertained that my feet are far too big for the mini sandals Iím given to replace my shoes at the door, the TV/light/radio/alarm controls in my capsule are surprisingly difficult to conquer, and some people have standards for a hotel even more modest than mine. My trust Letís Go says that they were invented for drunk businessmen who miss the last train home; extreme intoxication would be one of the few explanations Iíd buy for why someone would stay in these regularly. Another is sadism: at ~6.5 feet long by maybe 3 feet high, with ~20 capsules to a room, and sporting walls of ugly hard plastic that would be right at home in an old-school high school chemistry lab, capsule hotels are unsuitable for those who are claustrophobic, private, or concerned about aesthetics.
        Kagaya, however, is for everyone. Iím expecting a fancy performance theater monstrosity of a restaurant from the rave review I read; instead, itís a short table full of drunk businessmen in a ~25x20-foot basement room. The proprietor, whose front teeth might just be more crooked than mine, greets me and, within a few minutes, converts my total readiness to leave after one beer to be polite into an order for the ~4,000 yen (~$32) all-you-can-drink feast, the most expensive/extensive of his 4 meal choices. Basically this guy is the entertainment and the wait staff; Iím pretty sure his mom, cooking in the ~5x5 kitchen, is the rest of the whole team. My first of many beers is served with theatrics including streamers and a kabuki (traditional Japanese theater) imitation. Random games appear with occasional glasses of sake as prizes. A motion-activated singing lobster almost scares my aim off in the bathroom. Basically, I had a front-row ticket to a corny but hilarious comedian. The unlimited alcohol and tasty funky veggie food certainly didnít hurt, either. Definitely one of the oddest and best culinary experiences Iíve ever had.
        After a little wandering that probably included zigzagging, I even make it to my pod without serious injury to self or surroundings. Not sure how, but I also stayed awake for a Japanese bath (think hot tub) and long-overdue shave. Thus far, Japan is strangely enjoyable.
       

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