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Friday, October 28, 2016

4F Day 6: What's Happening in Japan?

Still, no fall foliage, thus, still 4F.  Today, I went to pick up my Japan Rail Pass and finalize train travel reservations.  I got all my desired times and dates.  The price of just one Green Car trip, from Sendai to Hiroshima, costs about $380.  The price of my Japan Rail Pass (which has to be purchased before you arrive in Japan) was just about $380.  Tomorrow, I'm off for Sendai.

Five of my six meals since Seoul has been free, courtesy of United and Starwood.  I had a gigantic breakfast this morning at the Tokyo Westin:

Counterclockwise:
  • two eggs over easy with a hash brown and two pieces of freshly cut and thick bacon
  • bouillon and miso soup
  • natto
  • cold water, hot green tea and freshly crushed orange juice
  • salad
  • japanese pickles, including tofu
  • penne pasta, arabico, salmon and nishime, with rice
Then for lunch I picked up a minor feast at Mistsukoshi to have in my room:


If not for the clouds, Mount Fuji would be in the background.  This is the only meal I'll pay for in two days because tonight the Marriott Tokyo has an executive lounge.  
It was pouring rain, so I caught a cab to the Marriott.   JR,?  Would have been almost free.  Taxi?  $18.  Not as upscale as the Tokyo Westin, but good enough, and, apparently, the company has linked my Platinum status with theirs.  As you know, Marriott bought Starwood.

This hotel is only 3 years old, but it looks well used.  Here is my bathroom and this is how I now dress (I brought no sport coat nor tie).

So what's happening in Japan?  For the first time since the census began in 1920,* the Japanese population declined, by just about a million:
  • as of a year ago, the population was 127 million (the U.S. is at 319 million)
  • Japan remains as the 10th most populated country
  • Japan was the only one, of the top 20 countries, to decline
  • 1.4% of the population is alien
  • 62 million males and 65 million females
* Well, not exactly accurate, for the population declined during World War II:


The eldest of the royal family, brother of former Emperor Hirohito, Prince Mikasa, just passed away at the age of 100:


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is at it again.  The Liberal Democratic Party declared that the maximum tenure for president has been raised from 6 years to 9 years.  They just went out and did it, with no input from the populace.  The primary excuse is that there needs to be continuity for the 2020 Summer Olympics.  He will then in 2019 almost surely take the blame for increasing the long delayed consumption tax from 8% to 10%.

The outgoing Japanese prime minister has now and then committed political suicide for an unpopular act needed to stabilize the country.  However, the Japanese transition is smooth.  In the USA, Donald Trump has threatened to place Hillary Clinton in jail.  About a quarter century ago I had a dinner in Seoul with Chun Doo Hwan, a former president of of the country.  A few years later he was sentenced to death...but survived.  The South Korean changeover has been unpredictable.

Okay, tomorrow I begin my Japan train ride to view Fall colors.  Let's see if I can entitle it 5F for Fabulous Fall Food and Foliage Fantasy.

The Executive Lounge of the Marriott Tokyo is smaller and not as elegant as that of the Tokyo Westin.  The various hors d'oeuvres did not mesmerize me, so I just had a touch of red wine and a spot of scotch, with the intention of having dinner at the restaurant here, for I was given free drink and 20% off coupons.  The drink variety was above average, plus they featured a different cocktail each night:


However, when I went up to the restaurant, I was told, sorry, there is tonight a private party.  I should have turned around and returned to the Executive Lounge.  However, every so often you need to assert yourself, so I huffed, "this is unecceptable, I'm staying here and this is how you treat a customer?  Let me see the manager."  All said in an imperious tone.  I did, though, back off a bit by suggesting that I could do take-out.  A few minutes later, the person I was talking to walked me to a table pretty much in the hallway where tourists just walk by, and sat me there.  I ordered a fish & chips with a glass of champagne.  Tasted like catfish.  I paid around $11.

On the way back to the elevator, I thought I would have a free dessert in the Executive Lounge.  I went in and my choice corner table was open.  The place was otherwise filled:


The Marriott Tokyo could well be a decent future hotel if I return to this city, for price is lower than the Tokyo Westin.

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