Monday, December 12, 2005


Review: Hyatt Regency Osaka

At the weekend we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Osaka on a cheap package from Trapics, 17,000 yen for two in a 40 square metre room, including breakfast.

The hotel's one problem is it is a bit far out from the centre of town, requiring two changes of train and subway to get to it from the main station Umeda, or alternatively there is a free bus mostly every half hour from outside the station to the front door. The advertised journey time is just 30 minutes, comparable with the public transport route, but, especially on the to Osaka trip, the traffic tends to be rather heavy, and it took us 50 minutes to get in.

The hotel is pretty new (I think about five years old) done in a very posh marble, vaguely Art Deco, style. Check-in suffers from a lack of a defined queue, and although they had someone on hand to try to guide people to the best queue, both times we lined up we had queue-jumpers passing us. The deal we had was a cash-only deal, but I felt it was a bit impolite when they asked us for 20,000 yen up-front. Most places would have asked for just a credit card impression, I would have thought.

One thing you should do before going to any Hyatt is to apply for a member's card, which entitles you to bath robes and a free soft drink, which we could take advantage of even though we were on a cheapskate stay plan! The room itself was very well fitted out. A minimal muted design, with all the expected features including free wireless (wireless, whether free or not, is still not a common in Japanese hotels) and a very generous bathroom with separate shower booth and a good selection of toiletries to fremantle. However, the sliding bathroom door, whilst increasing the available space was a bit noisy to use. The hotel also has air humidifiers available for free loan, if required.

Since we were staying around Christmas time, I did worry that the decor might be just too Xmas-y, but fortunately there was just the right level of well-appointed trees and no muzak!

Breakfast was a full buffet (the was the option of an alternative table service dining area, but we took the buffet) with all the expected options, and an egg bar for cooking omlettes and the like to order, but this also suffered from a poor queueing system. All the food was very tasty and very fresh - often a worry with these buffets is that some of the food dries out after standing for a long time - and all well-presented. The normal price for the breakfast is apparently 3200 yen, perhaps a little steep, but I would not have grudged paying that price.

Additional points: free newspapers - they gave me both the Yomiuri and the Japan Times; free cheap slippers; the room above us had kids running around until 1 am, which was a bit noisy; all staff speak English - at international hotels I always use English myself; although we had a non-smoking room, there was a definite stale cigarette smell; finally, if you're going to Universal Studios Japan and can find a good deal (say about 25,000 yen including breakfast and one-day pass and free shuttle bus) I can highly recommend the place.

Value for Money★★★★★

Friday, December 09, 2005


Today's Japanese lesson: 等分布性

I came across this word through work, as we needed to find a Japanese translation for equidistribution. After a bit of a lengthy Google search, I finally discovered the likely translation, 等分布性, とうぶんぷせい, toubunpusei, a word that gets a mere four hits on Google. Well, five once this article makes it.

Oh, and can someone please kick the Blogger servers back into action?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Worst-designed kitty litter ever!

Trying to find a good litter for our kitten to poo in, we tried one made from okara, which is soya bean husks. Interestingly enough, okara is classified as an industrial waste product, as no-one's really too interested in eating it (although I did have some last night (okara, not kitty litter!)), so a lot of it gets chucked away, so they need regulations to control the disposal.

We bought it, and kitty, who does like the occasional nibble at the paper-based products we'd used before, decided she liked the flavour, and started seriously getting into eating the stuff! We checked out the label in more detail, and it said it was edible, but if your cat eats too much, please go to the vet. It also said along with the soya bean husks, it also contained corn starch, so no wonder Aria was finding it so tasty, to such a degree that at one point she was ignoring her fresh food in favour of slightly kittie pee-flavoured litter!

Kitty also started doing wonderfully green-coloured poo, which, thankfully, I'll not upload pictures of. I wonder if since Aria should be teething about now, she wanted something a bit crunchy rather than the rather soggy water-soaked dried food we are currently giving her? I might try going back to the shop and asking for a refund as it seems rather stupid to not add something to dissuade cats from having a nibble.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Update on sitting next to the gaijin on the train

Following on from an earlier post, I attended an SGI (well, Soka Gakkai Japan International Division) meeting last weekend and one of the Japanese people giving a speech mentioned that he had shakubukued five foreigners, all of whom he had initially approached in the train.

As an SGI member, I think that's great, but as a person who likes his peace and quiet on the train I'm not quite so sure!

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