New Sanno Hotel: 20 Hours in Tokyo

There will be no photos of the New Sanno Hotel. As I mentioned, I was headed to Tokyo for a one night stop to meet up with my buddy who is a U.S. Navy JAG Officer. The New Sanno Hotel is only open to Department of Defense personnel, as such, my buddy had to make the reservation, and I wasn’t allowed past the security checkpoint until I showed them my passport and my buddy flashed his Navy ID and signed for me. In short, I didn’t think they’d appreciate me snapping photos…

I had forgotten how horrifically expensive Japan is. At the time I was there, the Yen to USD was about 90:1 (I think now it’s down around 80:1). Once out the main doors at HND, there was no queue for cabs. I hopped in to find that the meter STARTED (as in was set to this price before pulling away from the curb) at 800 or 900 Yen. That meant I was already in the hole $8 or $9 before we even started to drive.

I watched with horror as the meter continued to tick up with alacrity every few seconds. Normally the meter will go up a few cents every fraction of a mile. The meters in Tokyo tick up the equivalent of 90 cents U.S. EVERY TIME they increase. I felt like the taxi meter was a gas pump and started to worry that the 30,000 Yen I had withdrawn wasn’t even going to get me through the first six hours in Tokyo.

The taxi dropped me in front of the New Sanno and left me roughly $120 USD poorer…mind you this is from Haneda which is the “city” airport, located right in Tokyo. Fares to and from Narita are truly frightening.

Once N (different N than the one from Thailand) signed me past the security checkpoint, we entered what looked like a fairly normal 3-4 star hotel. I dropped my bags in the room and we went down to the lobby bar to avail ourselves of the best feature of the New Sanno.

Since you need to be DoD to book the New Sanno, most of the guests are Americans away from home. As such, the hotel bar serves all the normal American comfort foods you would find back home, and the expected light beers. The key here, is that they also serve all of this at U.S. dive bar prices, which is a world away from what things cost everywhere else in Tokyo.

Sub-$2 rounds of Miller Genuine Draft went down nicely, and we made sure to have a bunch before heading out into the high priced Blade Runner fantasy land of Tokyo.

We took a cab to the Roppongi Hills station, then walked from there. N took me first to a subterranean Tequila bar. It was fairly empty and they served nothing but tequila. I am not averse to the odd shot of tequila here or there to pep a night up, but I am not a huge fan of the taste and sipping room temperature tequila’s in a basement was not really my speed. Once our drinks arrived I think N quickly remembered that he is no great lover of the taste of tequila either and we quickly paid out bill, finished our drinks and left.

N said he wanted to bring me to a club that was usually good on weekends. We grabbed some beers from a convenience store and walked up to Feria. I laughed, as I had been to this club before. I told N that I had been to Feria on my first night ever in Tokyo, some years before, and that it had ended well for me.

We paid the usurious cover which must have been $30 or more USD and popped inside. We made our rounds through the various floors of the multi-level complex and by the time we had expended the drink tickets that came with our entrance fee, we were jammed in the basement bar. It was packed to the rafters and even the bar real estate we had carved out was proving useless at holding back the masses.

Sadly all of the tables in the raised VIP section (where the Yakuza bosses hang out with the models they own) were booked, so the best we could do was a small table ringing the dance floor.

We put our bottle of Smirnoff through it’s paces and made some new friends.

We got back to the hotel after 6am, and tried to turn on Armed Forces Network in order to watch the NCAA Tournament. N was battling with the T.V., desperately trying to get it to work, but to no avail, finally he called the front desk

“Our T.V. isn’t working”

“Ugh…is it plugged in?”

“Hold on”

Upon closer inspection, N realized that while drunkenly moving the T.V. around he had unplugged it, and this was the root cause of our issues.

We watched our team win and advance to the next round, and when I woke up a few hours later I found my cell phone underneath the bed with no idea why or to how it ended up there. N had to get back to Yokohama to play Softball with his Commanding Officer (how A Few Good Men) and I had to get out to Narita and catch my flight back to the States. I would be back in less than two weeks.



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