Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm back

Okay made it back safe and sound!

I had a great time. Japan really is a different world from anywhere else but at the same time really good to travel through since the country is quite modern and no one hassles you.

Rather than fill the blog with tons and tons of description (it was a two-week trip so really I could go on forever about it), here are some snippets but I'll leave it to you to Google what the heck I am talking about:

-- went to Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka
-- in Japan it takes five people to help you to exchange money
-- at the airport there was an elderly gentleman whose job appeared to be to bow at everyone getting on the escalator
-- in Kyoto we stayed in a traditional ryokan (tatami mat floors, futons etc)
-- I like yukatas. I bought one.
-- saw tons of temples and the old Imperial Palace
-- vending machines are everywhere outdoors, including ones for beer or cigarettes. In North America the life expectancy of an outdoor beer or cigarette vending machine would be sundown.
-- okonomiyaki is usually topped with some kind of fish flakes that shrivel and move when the okonomiyaki is put on a hot plate so it looks like your food is topped with some living thing
-- if you go shopping for pillows the store will have a bed for you to try them out
-- no one hassles you, to the point of even ignoring you. Even Japanese standing on street corners handing out flyers/brochures usually will not give you one.
-- the bullet train system is amazing. Kyoto to Tokyo (~550 km) took around 2 1/2 hours, including stops. There were trains about every 10 minutes.
-- the Harajuku style is starting to go out of fashion. Short skirts with boots is the new thing for ladies.
-- the Japanese really go high-tech when it comes to toilets, the most elaborate one we encountered had 12 buttons and a heated seat.
-- ate at a restaurant where you are led in handcuffs to a jail cell that contains your table. Drinks are served in chemistry flasks with dry ice to give them that spooky fog.
-- natto is pretty good!
-- I discovered I was born in the Year of the Dog.
-- Toyota has this really cool centre where you can test drive vehicles, use simulators, and view some of their high tech experimental devices like robots that can play the trumpet.
-- if you go to Roppongi a black guy named Tom toting for some club, who dresses a bit like a pimp, apparently has "got what you need".
-- went to Shibuya and crossed that famous road crossing where thousands of people cross all at once
-- Super Kids Land sells the widest range of BB weapons I have ever seen.
-- I advise looking at every vending machine and trying any weird drinks it offers, it is both adventurous and entertaining. Jelly Coffee was the weirdest thing we tried.
-- a clerk at a heavy metal shop got bent out of shape because I didn't take my shoes off when using the change room
-- yet no one cares if a man reads pornographic comics on the subway, even sitting next to women.
-- there are cafes in Akhiabara where the waitresses all dress in sexy French maid outfits (cafes, as in plural)
-- everyone likes the bow and thank you for the most minor things
-- but they usually will not give up their seats for ladies or an elderly person
-- got lost at Shinjuku Station trying to find a certain Metro line and wound up at a different station, without having gone above ground
-- look at the schedules for Kabuki plays well in advance. The theatre is not open every day.
-- same with bunraku
-- same with Noh theatres
-- and the Kyoto Museum
-- and sumo wrestler stables
-- I drank a lot of Fibe-Mini
-- "Please teach the commodity wanting it with the cash register". (I have no idea what it means either.)
-- went to a traditional tea ceremony. Be sure to stop to admire the flower and calligraphy when you get in.
-- there is a (smaller) replica of the Statue of Liberty in Tokyo
-- Best Internet cafes I've ever seen. Free coffee and sodas, lounge chairs, manga library you are allowed to browse through for free, even private booths where two people can sit on a couch and use separate computers
-- Eleeno watches are cool
-- apparently having a large statue of a dog pulling down a boy's underwear is someone's idea of a great way to advertise that your business is a restaurant.
-- if a store gives you a complementary can of Final Fantasy Chaos Potion don't drink it (blah!)
-- but feel free to keep the can.
-- considering Japanese tourists are well known for taking tons of pictures wherever they go it is ironic that a lot of places in Japan have signs telling you not to take pictures there. Including a shoe repair kiosk.
-- some restaurants have instead of a menu a huge bank of buttons somewhat like a vending machine. You put the money in the machine, press what you want, then sit down and the waitress will bring it to you once the kitchen cooks it.
-- Polysics are cool!
-- the Japanese really hate wet umbrellas being brought indoors. Stands were you can lock your umbrella, machines that will wrap it in plastic, even an "umbrella dryer", are in use in most buildings.
-- 10 hours is a brutally long flight

Okay I think this sums up everything pretty well. I had a great time, everyone should check out Japan if they get the chance.

1 comment:

bigbaldnbearded said...

awesome! just came across your blog today .. reading back .. the Japan roundup sounds wicked! :)