March 20: no English none

I am in Atami, sitting on the floor on four pillows with my back to the wall and trying to figure out whether all this up and down is really good for me. When I made all my hotel reservations I had trouble with Atami. All of the cheaper hotels were booked for the two nights I wanted. I wound up in a place you enter at the bottom of a steep hill in a Japanese style room. This was all a surprise to me. My hotel confirmation got printed out in Japanese. That should have been my first clue. Also a surprise is the lack of English speakers around here. This is supposed to be a famous resort, but not for us English speakers. The people at the info center were very nice, but no English. They directed me to the hotel, which seemed to be close to the station, but I had trouble following the map so I finally got a taxi. (Yes, Grace, it’s a great doctrine.) I couldn’t believe when he dropped me off. This place makes Pittsburgh look like flatland.

Of course, I was too early for check-in time, but I left my small suitcase (I shipped the larger one to my next stop, Okayama), and went up a long stairway back to the station to get the bus to MOA, the famous Museum of Art. As with many contemporary museums the building is more impressive than the art they were showing. You enter the building, already high on a hill, and immediately get on an escalator.


I didn’t count but I think there were six of them; very long escalators; 200 meters of escalators rising 60 meters. Very impressive, but ultimately boring.


Various write-ups say they have 3500 Japanese paintings with probably only  a hundred or so on display. I did see a lovely display of Rinpa art that I enjoyed.


I managed to have three meals today. Breakfast in the train station was a small sandwich on white bread and a bottle of cold green tea. Lunch in the museum was tempura on rice. I really did not want tempura, which was greasy and stayed with me all afternoon, but they had no English menu and this was the best I could do with the waitress’s limited English. I am still surprised about it. I know that English gets more difficult outside of Tokyo and Kyoto, but Atami is supposed to be a famous resort.

Child dancing in the rotunda between escalators

Child dancing in the rotunda between escalators

On my way back to the hotel I stopped at a 7-11 and got  rice wrapped in seaweed and something that looked like it might be spinach with scrambled eggs. I’m a little concerned about the lack of green stuff here since I have my coumadin balanced on a certain amount of it. I was hoping seaweed would make up for it but no such luck.

I think my jetlag is receding. It’s 7:45 and I’m still awake. First time since I arrived.

7 thoughts on “March 20: no English none

    • Hi Mage, The hotels I stay in don’t serve food, or if they do I’m not sure I want to eat it. This place offers breakfast, so I went down this morning, looked at the steam table, came back to my room, drank tea and ate the banana I bought last night, and that was it. I have a kind of translator on my phone but it only works if I have wi-fi. I love my phone because it is like having an encyclopedia, a gps and a book of maps and Mr. Anthony in my pocket. Remember Mr. Anthony?

      On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 7:28 AM, Studio Ruthe

  1. The food deal is one of the biggest problems I have in foreign travel–except on tours, which I kind of don’t like because they leave you little time to do your own thing and you constantly pack and unpack and have to get up earlier than your body might like. I’ve had excellent food with someone to guide us, things that work for my non-eating hubby too. In the U.S. roadtrips are fraught with limited choices of fries and meat and iceburg lettuce greens. You’ll be ready for a giant salad! The English problem would stump me for sure!

    • Alice, I don’t like tours for all those reasons and one other: I find I remember more about the other people on the tour than about where I went and what I saw. Actually, it’s good I can’t find food. Maybe I’ll lose some weight. I’m certainly working hard enough.

      On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 1:15 AM, Studio Ruthe

  2. I cannot believe my cousin is so adventurous. I had that “No English” experience in China,but only for a little while. It made me feel uncomfortable. I never forgot that feeling, however, and it has helped me to be more sensitive to patients and their families that do not speak English. I love hearing about your experiences, so I can live vicariously.

    • Hi Joan, Happy to know you are with me. It makes traveling alone much easier when I stay in touch with everyone at home. I know what you mean about the no English stuff, although I’ve gotten used to it. Also I found some people are better at guessing what you want even if they don’t understand the words. I’ve become quite good at pantomime.

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM, Studio Ruthe

      • Pantomine will get you a long way. I use it all the time with the hispanic population at the hospital. I’m thinking of doing Rosetta Stone this summer. Hmmm. I’ll see. Anyway, I look forward to hearing about what comes next. I hope good outweighs the not so goods.

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