My first day in Japan, after my first night in Japan in our lovely modern hotel in downtown Kawagoe, was the day I was awakened to the fact that I was, indeed "not in Kansas anymore".
We all woke early for a more traditional Japanese breakfast, it was already very warm and extremely humid, and then went back to our rooms to put on our business attire. As I left my room I hung the "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door. I don't care to have someone clean my room every day I am in a hotel. I can hang up my towels and use the same sheets for a few days ( I do at home don't I?) and since we were going to be there for two weeks I took my own toiletries so I didn't need those replaced either.
We left the hotel, walked about 10 minutes to the train station, rode the train a couple stops and walked about 15 minutes to the University. This first day was a meet and greet we'd be sitting and standing and sitting and standing and bowing and shaking hands and sitting and standing. No biggie, we expected it. As we are standing in the courtyard to go into our next meeting one of the lovely ladies who worked in the administration office comes out and is looking for...yours truly, I have a phone call. A phone call! Of course I am immediately alarmed. Those who know me will not be surprised that before I left the United States not only did I register my trip with the State Department, I also compiled a list of all the phone numbers and locations where I would be and left it for my mother in case anything should happen and she needed to get a hold of me. Naturally, if I have a phone call in a country I just arrived in I'm not thinking this is a good thing.
I followed the woman from the office in and picked up the phone..."Hello?" I said with much trepidation...and who do I hear on the other line? The HOTEL!! They were calling me because they weren't sure if they should clean my room or not. Apparently the sign I hung on the door turned sideways when I shut the door behind me and because of that they needed to check in with me about whether or not to clean it. I thanked them for calling me and told them that no they didn't need to.
I walked back out to the courtyard to join my group and of course they were all just as curious as was about why someone would be calling me at school. I relayed the story and among the slack jaws in disbelief and laughs our wonderful and fearless leader (who is Japanese) looked at me shook his head with a little laugh and said "Welcome to Japan".