Existing Member?


29th July - I love Japan!!

JAPAN | Saturday, 29 July 2006 | Views [815]

So, after our little break back in Europe, here we are in Japan, hurrah, I love it!! We stayed for the first few days with Emma and Ken in Tokyo, they have ben acclimitising us, taking us out and showing us how things are done.  But right now, we are on the loose by ourselves in Japan, in Kyoto to be precise.


Tokyo is just like it looks in tv but even more interesting.  Lots of people, lots of neon, orderly queues to get onto trains, special rush hour carriages where, for maximum people holding capacity, all seats are folded up before 10am and Hello Kitty merchandise everywhere.  Even the supermarkets there are tourist attractions in themselves, full of weird and wonderful as well as just plain scary food.  Instead of a bag of peanuts with your beer you can have a bag of tiny little dried silver fish, for example.

Emma and Ken`s neighbourhood is lovely, it:s like a maze of little streets and their flat is brilliant, even though we foolishly timed our arrival to precede the sofa.  They have a Japanese room where the flooring is made of tatami mats and in the living room is about the biggest tv screen you can have before your place gets classified as a cinema. Lots of hi tec gisnos control the flat but only Ken can work them since everything is in Japanese.


To Emma`s disappointment, their toilet is just a regular toilet with no fancy bells and whistles.  However, since leaving Tokyo we have been coming across more exotic Japanese toilets.  I have to admit that the heated seats are something I could get used to but the bottom washing bit is a step too far for me.  It made me laugh so much when I tried one that I couldn`t find the stop button.  Eoin is enjoying his daily bum shower though, he thinks Japanese toilets are ace.


We have hit the tail end of the rainy season - it is hot and humid all the time, sunny sometimes and rainy sometimes..come rain or shine I am never without my umbrella.  The girls here are as averse to the sun as I am so when the sun is out, umbrellas are up everywhere, including mine. Love it..


We are pretty much illiterate here - there is the odd English sign but it`s come as a bit of a shock after all our travels in English speaking countries not to be able to speak, read or understand a word anyone says.  The most important criteria for us now when picking a restaurant is a photo menu though, to be honest, even then the food remains a bit of a mystery but at least we have something to point at.  

Buying a ticket for the subway is also a guessing game - sometimes the ticket gets you through the barrier, sometimes not.  Fortunately, everyone we have met here has been really kind to us so we:re not feeling too humiliated every time we get something wrong.


Aaah, the food.  It really is good in this country and whenever we eat with Ken, we even know what we`re eating. I`m loving the raw fish and rice but have to admit to being a bit perturbed by the dish fo finely sliced pieces of chicken, seared on the outside, totally raw on the inside (see photo of Ken with a piece).  Ken, Emma and Eoin all tucked into the delicacy and I tried it - yes it was delicious but the years of almost obsessive hygiene concerning raw chicken was too much for me to get over in one night.

It`s not just the actual food that is different - you also have to eat it with chopsticks.  Honestly, I bought a yogurt and they gave me chopsticks to eat it with. Eoin is on a steep learning curve since he has only ever used them about two times before coming here and he keeps using his fingers when he thinks no one is looking.  And noodle eating, also done with chopsticks, though much harder for Eoin to pull off with his fingers, is accompanied by mandatory noodle-slurping sounds effects. I`d heard of this before but was still surprised by the slurping symphony you hear in noodle restaurants.  We are working on our technique but still have a lot to learn.

Even going into familiar old Starbucks is an experience and one that I might take earplugs for next time because, oh my god, those girls behind the counter can screech!  I can cope with one at a time but too many high-pitched "Grando cafe latte hotto"s at once is an ear drum risk.


Having reread this it sounds as though all we have done is eat, go to supermarkets and go to the toilet.  We have been very touristy too - we have taken the bullet train three times, visited countless temples, a castle and walked through a bamboo grove.  The temples are amazing, a lot of the ones we have seen are world heritage sites but the gardens are the best bits.  They really know what they`re doing on the garden front here - all very calm with lots of water and lillies and pebbles and lovey shaped trees. Still, even visiting beautiful, peaceful places gets tiring when there`s enough of them...at 8:30 last night I crawled into bed, absolutely exhausted frmo so much sightseeing in one day.  I`m hoping to stay up late enough tonight for some geisha spotting!

Tags: Adventures

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Japan

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.