My son and I just returned back home from a two week trip to Japan. It was a great trip and Japan the second time around was definitely better than the first. There is such a severe culture shock... being in a sea of Asians and you are Anglo, not seeing any letters on signs and buildings only symbols that are unfathomable to you, all kinds of different foods; heck you don't even know what you are eating a good portion of the time! This time though I knew what to expect, and I had my own personal tour guide and translator in the form of my son. Since he had previously lived in Japan for 2 years, he was well equipped to search out where we were trying to go and great with communication skills!
We visited the Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Ise, and Nagoya. We went all over with trains and walking. Only took a cab twice and one of those times was to facilitate our trip to the airport on the day home as there is nothing more entertaining than lugging your heavy suitcases around the train station (not)! The other time was to our hotel in Tokyo, right on Tokyo Bay.
Some fun factoids about the trip and Japan in general...
*There's nothing more appetizing than a piece of fish and some raw egg on rice as your breakfast, right? (I couldn't see the allure of that combination, but it is evidently quite popular for breakfast).
*Japanese people are skinny because they are always going up and down stairs. Everywhere you go there are stairs, up and down, ad nauseatum, and they are long staircases, too. Try a busy rail station with 10 stories, or a Buddist Temple with a hundred stairs up to the shrine. Yeah, stairs everywhere. There are escalators too but not at all stairs, and there are elevators but you have to hunt for them.
*The Toyota Pikachu car was awesome.
|We saw this Pikachu car at the Toyota exhibit in Tokyo.|
*Squatter toilets really aren't that bad they just take a little getting used to.
*And while we are on the subject of the toilette, we need those fancy schmancy washer type toilets with the heated seat here in the good old USA, too.
*American Restaurants need to get with the program and provide you with some kind of warm washcloth or wet wipe thingy so you can clean up your hands before you eat, like Japanese restaurants do.
*I've never seen so many unagi (eels) in one place in my life as I did at the Nagoya fish market.
|Man holding unagi at the fish market.|
*There are approximately 1500 earthquakes a year in Japan.
*There are four writing systems in Japan- Romaji, Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji.
|Kanji for 'Kyoto'|
*It's ok to slurp your noodles while eating in Japan.
*In Japan you can find just about anything in a vending machine.
*There are more rice cookers than ovens in Japanese homes.
*Being in the midst of a Bamboo Forest is really groovy!
|Walking through a Bamboo Forest|