Kongo is in Japan. Kon’nichiwa!
After an 11 hour flight from LAX the traveling simian and Mrs. Kongo arrived in Tokyo rather glazed but happy. It was a super smooth flight, all logistics were easy, the food and drinks were great, and the monkey even slept for a few hours in a nice “lay flat” seat suite. The only slightly scary part was a kidnapping attempt by a monkey loving purser who really liked Kongo’s wings. She sighed and waxed fondly about monkey encounters in Costa Rica, hugged the little guy, and took off down the aisle. “Hey, wait!” Kongo’s master had to inject. “You can’t have that monkey!” She reluctantly gave it up. Sheesh.
After clearing customs at Haneda airport, we took a 14-minute express train to the Shinagawa Station in the Takanawa district of Tokyo. Our hotel, the Marriott Prince Sakura Tower, was a three minute shuttle bus ride from the station. We were ensconced in our room on the top floor less than an hour after touchdown. Fantastic.
The hotel is integrated with a beautiful Japanese garden that was landscaped in the early 1970s but some of the structures here (like the bell tower) date to the 1600s.
After settling in and figuring out how to operate the air conditioner and the fancy Japanese toilet we explored the gardens.
Shortly before 5 PM we saw a man in a white coat getting ready to do something with the ancient bell in the garden. Spying the curious monkey, he invited us to ring the bell, somewhat of an honor, so the monkey pushed Mrs. Kongo up the steps and told her this was her chance to start our trip off with a bang (or at least a gong). Well, there were a few things lost in the translation and Mrs. Kongo kind of made a few mistakes in ringing in the evening. See the video below to see what happened.
Mrs. Kong wanted to just tear into that ancient bell and start banging away. Evidently you are supposed to do it in intervals when prompted by the bell keeper and then just one gong at time. Who knew? Well we know now. Naturally, this brought to mind John Donne’s famous line, “ask not for whom the bell tolls…” In this case Mrs. Kongo tolled it for all.
The Kongos are in Japan to take a 15-day “intensive” cruise around the Japanese islands aboard the Azamara Quest. We will be in Tokyo for a few days before boarding and then see more of the capital after returning. Our cruise itinerary looks great although there is a lot of rain in the forecast.
Stay tuned for more.
Travel safe. Have fun!