The Otani is a pretty rich diet compared to the hotels I am used to.  There is a gourmet shop on the ground floor where we found a single mango for Y8000, or $80.  It is a top drawer mango for sure, twice as big as the usual, with a consistent strawberry-speckled skin, swaddled in a box and suitable for framing, but still – $80 for a single mango?

Behind the hotel is a Japanese garden, a beautiful piece of work with a 20’ waterfall and a tea house.  Not the depth of the one in the Dazaifu Zen center, but pretty damn good for a hotel – and here I can take pictures.  These gardens enhance nature in the way God intended Man to do.  It must take quite a commitment of staff to maintain such a living work of art.


All over the hotel, staff abound, green uniforms and round hats – my hip flexors have had a workout in concentric contraction and my extensors in eccentric loading just returning the bows I get from every corner of the lobby, restaurant, elevator, and entrance every time I venture from my room.

But night before last, the hotel has filled with black-suited watchers with left ears wired to Central Control, who by last night were tetchy to downright twitchy – eyeing my backpack with a CIA-ish skepticism.  Then forty or so blue suited, high-capped policemen were stationed outside the hotel, and traffic was being stopped and redirected by men in black with white helmets.

At first I thought it was a bust, but one of the students was up on the news: Putin was in town to have a visit with the Japanese prime minister, and he was staying at the Otani, which is located near the Imperial Palace and the Parliament building.  That explains how many Russians I have been hearing in the halls ever since I got here. (I like Russia on its own terms, but I am sorry: put large, loud, and pushy blatting Russians up against soft, gentle, and unfailingly considerate sibilant Japanese?  I hope they get their island back.)


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