A Travellerspoint blog

Japan in the Rear View Mirror

semi-overcast 24 °C

After successfully dodging an earthquake, a volcanic eruption and three typhoons in Japan, we are now in London getting battered by the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo.
But, we still have Japan on our minds.

It was chestnut time in Japan and the hairy little critters got into everything; from cakes to sweets to savouries as well as ice cream and drinks. Newly squashed chestnuts carpeted the Nakesendo Way while freshly roasted ones were a delight…

Noticeable in Japan are the impressive numbers of tiny cars…
…and the complete lack of older vehicles. Japan has enforceable environmental regulations and cars that fail are shipped to Siberia and Canada where they can happily pollute for eternity without fear of the breaker’s yard, (albeit on the wrong side of the road).

Pollution of all kinds is a worry for the Japanese, and who can blame them after Fukushima, so there are anti – everything signs everywhere: some of which we couldn’t decipher…

Almost as ubiquitous as “Don’t” signs are vending machines and, surprisingly, many of them dispense inexpensive beer and cigarettes. These machines have the latest in touch-screen technology making it easy for smartphone savvy kids to download their favourite brew or pack of smokes…

Smoking in most public places is a no-no, so it’s surprising that restaurants, hotels and pachinko parlours were often shrouded in haze. Incidentally, the Japanese addiction to pachinko is something we simply can’t fathom. We do, however, appreciate their love of beautifully presented food…
…even when it is mouthwatering plastic…
Some customs you should know before visiting:
Waiters and chefs call out to welcome you when you enter a restaurant and give amazing service. But you must not tip anyone for anything – ever – and if you leave even the odd five cents in a restaurant, someone will come running after you to return it.
All toilets, public or otherwise, are free and Canadians are constantly overheard saying, “OMG! You gotta check this one out.”
No one eats or drinks on the street or public place.
No Japanese pedestrian ever crosses the road against a red light irrespective of whether or not there is any traffic in sight.
Pyjamas and/or yukatas, (traditional dressing gowns), are provided at all hotels and guests wear them to meals in the dining room – especially for breakfast.
To save you the trouble of lugging suitcases on and off trains or buses Japan has an inexpensive courier service that delivers suitcases from hotel to hotel with a speed and reliability that leaves Canadian couriers looking like absentminded snails.

So – did we love Japan? You betcha.

But now we are in our most favourite city, London. It’s not cheap; we have to fight the traffic; tips are hoped for (though not demanded as in N.America); no one wears pyjamas in the dining room; a pee almost always costs a pretty penny; and there is plenty of litter to go around. But, despite its failings, England is a magical place which is always exiting and interesting – and, for us, comforting. So now we have some family time before heading off to central Europe. We hope you will join us in a couple of weeks time as we explore the Alps and Bavaria. In the meantime, we look fondly back at Japan to wave goodbye to these cute kids…
Sayonara Japan – we will return.

Posted by Hawkson 03:39 Archived in Japan

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what the heck is pachinko and did you taste it? those little girls are so cute esp the one on the right. I am glad you missed all the bad weather there but London in the winter can be awful. Have a good time with relatives. love jean

by Jean McLaren

Thank you for Japan. Will look forward to the next adventure. Keep well.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Pachinko was a brief fad in Vancouver many years ago. I've actually played the game. You'd have to have a slot machine (or pinball) mentality though to persist with it.
London vs Japan as you describe them? "Hmm," says the armchair traveller.

by R and B

As always, so much fascinating information to pass on...thank you. The pics are always gorgeous, and with the words, paint such a vivid picture, I almost feel I've been there. Looking forward to more...love ya's..

by Sharron

Looking forward to seeing how the Japanese presentation skills kick up your already formidable ones. Love the sign that reads "Please don't feed the doves". Even the nuisance birds are more elegant in Japan. Glad you loved it. Worried you might not.
Look forward to the next posts.

by Tom

You made Japan far more interesting than I ever thought it would be. Loved your pictures throughout. I am surprised you could find a way to use Siberia and Canada in one sentence.

by Keith and Helen

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