Before I left on my travels, a very good friend of mine was married and went on her honeymoon to Disneyland in Florida. When she returned she gave me a gift, which consisted, amongst other things, of a few items pilfered from the Disney hotel, that she thought I might need on my trip. Some of these were toiletries items, that I will have to brave her displeasure and admit that I left at home, due to the nature of my trip and their 'travel-size', they were not suitable and space in the turtlepack is very limited. One item however, a Mickey Mouse Pirates of the Caribbean face washer, I did pack, as it was one of those sponge packed washers that do not expand to their actual size until water is added. At the time, the way it was sealed it was about the size of five fifty cent pieces piled together, and even though I have never really been one for face washers, I thought I may as well take it as not, it might come in handy. Little did I know exactly how useful it would become.
In 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' the Guide gives some very strict advice on some subjects, the first and most prominent of which is "DON'T PANIC", in fact in most print copies this is actually emblazoned on the cover. This is very good advice in all life situations. I do realise also, that it is often easier said than done, but it is never productive.
The second piece of advice the Guide provides, has proved to be just as important when touring Japan in the Summer, as it does during intergalactic space travel, always knowing where one's towel is, and this brings me back to Mickey. Mickey, now I have to say this very quietly so that Warren does not hear and become jealous, would probably have to be the single most invaluable item I have in my travelling arsenal. I could not survive a day without him, and everyone in Japan seems to travel with their own version. Some are bright and cartooned, suited for tweens, others more sober, more for the use of the business man. Some are designer, I have seen samples from most of the most coveted labels, Burberry, Chanel, Louis Vuitton. People carry various sized towels, some just face washer size, like my own dear Mickey, others larger, almost full hand towels. My personal favourite is the version of scarf-like dimensions that is worn around the neck or tied around the top of the head like a bandanna. There are a few reasons for this phenomenon of towel-carrying. The first one being, to deal with the constant presence of perspiration, that is a part of hourly life here in the heat and humidity that is Summer in Japan. The others are that it doubles as both bathroom hand towel, and napkin, as there is rarely any where else to dry your hands. It took me mere days to pick up this habit of Mickey-carrying, and it had been so impressed on me, that when it came time for me to greet M at the start of her travels, I did so at Kyoto Station with a gift-towel in hand, for her very own.
In retrospect, I thank my dear friend, very much for giving me Mickey, I appreciate him more than she could possibly know, and I would just like to advocate, 'Hitchhikers' time honoured advice, having personally experienced the daily need for it, to always know where one's towel is.