What I Learned from a Cheap Japanese Business Hotel

Awaji Island is in every sense of the phrase off the beaten track by Japanese standards. I was doing some day work there, despite the approaching typhoon, with a hope that I would be home before it hit. But while I was busily working, the dangerous-weather warning was issued and all transport to and from the island was frozen. There was no way home until the storm passed and it was time to look for a room in one of the very few, dilapidated business hotels in town. Breakfast was just a AU$6.50 addition to the room rate, and with 2 choices: 'Western' or 'Traditional', I chose the latter and headed to my tiny and unspectacular room for the night. What I'm illustrating here is how special the hotel wasn't, but despite this, and based purely on traditional influence, my breakfast was a memorable affair.

The storm passed in the night in spectacular fashion, and to a clear morning sky, I headed for the breakfast room. There were already other patrons - families and businessmen alike, stranded like me – waiting for the first bus and enjoying their very typical morning fare.

My breakfast arrived – it was very simple compared to what I have eaten in nicer hotels in Japan, but it consisted of: a bowl of rice, miso soup with seaweed, baby mushrooms with some white-fleshed fish for stock, a small piece of grilled Salmon, crisp fried inch-fish, seasoned kombu (heavy seaweed) and sesame seeds, crisp wakame (light seaweed), a small salad, pickled radish, cucumber and cabbage, and of course green tea.

So that's 3 kinds of fish, 3 kinds of seaweed and 4 fermented foods including the miso soup just for breakfast! Even traditional home-style breakfasts in Japan are like this, so you can see why the Japanese are famous for their longevity.

After eating breakfast, I felt healed, invigorated, sustained and ready to take on the day! My energy level was fantastic, and I understood how Japanese 'salarymen' can work 12 hour days, 6 days a week and be fresh for Monday. For me, this sure beats cornflakes (which make me want to go back to bed right after breakfast).

I always treat breakfast like any other meal, with due respect to flavour, quantity and quality. In fact, enjoying making and eating breakfast over a leisurely hour is one of the best ways to start every day (after your morning exercise of course!). A breakfast hour is a great time to ponder your life and give yourself the best opportunity to 'win' today.

By a friend of mine living in Japan