Japan has been on my “Must Visit” list for years now, and this fall we finally made it there! We visited for the last two weeks of September, and visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Kumano Kodo.
I took hundreds of photos during our trip and I will share some in a few installments. But for now, a few thoughts on this wonderful place that I cannot wait to visit again.
I can rave for days about how amazed I was by this country – it was the best kind of culture shock. I knew Japan was a great civilization, that people were extremely polite and respectful, but it’s one thing reading about it and another actually experiencing it personally.
What amazed me the most was how spick-and-span clean everything was. Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world (13.6 million, much larger than NYC’s 8 million), yet you would never imagine it when you’re out and about. At times we were wondering out loud “Where are all the people?!”. On the subway, on the street nobody speaks loudly – in fact our group of four was usually the loudest within a considerable surface area. It’s always reasonably peaceful and quiet so even in the more crowded areas you never feel overwhelmed. Speaking of subways – best transportation system ever! It’s very easy to get the hang of it even as a foreigner, it’s reasonably priced and the trains are ALWAYS ON TIME. Imagine my despair when having to take the TTC when back in Toronto.
Japanese women are gorgeous! The stereotype is true – they are so delicate, porcelain dolls really, with impeccable skin and equally admirable taste in fashion.
The degree of politeness we witnessed when dealing with any salesperson or waiter was unprecedented – handing a credit card or cash to pay for a purchase was met with a bow and many “Arigato”s. And I won’t get into the attention to detail when wrapping presents.
Another aspect of Tokyo I fell in love with was the greenery. Granted, the climate is warm and humid and very greenery-friendly, but the amount of trees, bonsais, shrubbery and potted plants in every single alleyway or building entrance was stopping me in my tracks every two minutes, begging to be photographed. I will dedicate an entire blog post to Tokyo street scenes and hopefully my photos will better convey the idea.
Should I even mention the food? Everything you’ve heard is true. (If what you’re heard is that Japanese food is out-of-this-world delicious). Again, I will have a blog post with loads of food-related info and photos.
When going to Japan my main piece of advice is – bring an empty suitcase. Not half a suitcase, not some space in your suitcase, one whole empty suitcase. Especially if you want to bring back souvenirs. We went crazy at several stationery stores (Loft is the bomb dot com) and brought back a few pounds of sweets to share with friends. Clothes shopping was a tad difficult. It was problematic finding clothes in my size – the bottoms were usually too short on me and the tops were usually too narrow in the shoulders. But I’m not complaining, because it meant more money to be spent on beauty products. As you may have heard Japanese makeup and beauty products are reason enough to fly to the Land of the Rising Sun. Another thing I splurged on were good quality Japanese ceramics and tableware. So now every morning when I eat my yogurt and muesli from my blue ceramic bowl I remember the afternoon spent with my friend strolling down small alleys through residential neighborhoods of Tokyo.
Leaving you with some iPhone photos and stay tuned for more in-depth posts.
“All the best stuff is from Japan” on a T-shirt? Yes, please. I watched a lot of Cakes with Faces’ vlogs for inspiration and ideas when planning our trip to Tokyo; they were loads of fun and I highly recommend watching her videos if a trip to Japan is in your future.