Went to Japan, Part 6: Observations

As you can probably tell from my last 5 (!) posts, I had an absolutely incredible time in Japan. While I was there, I decided to keep a running list of interesting things, particularly those which I was really impressed or unimpressed with.

In no particular order, things which are awesome about Japan:

  • Garbage trucks that play music (not my video) 
  • Baseball!!
  • Osakans biking everywhere, with brollies and kids. I thought the Dutch were crazy about bikes; the Osakans are just as bike-mad and seem to have no regulations about riding on sidewalks, the wrong way down the street, and with All The Things (including umbrellas fixed to the front of the bikes)!
  • The food!
  • Luggage racks, queuing points, and destination planners on the subway. There are maps at each station which show you which car you should be in to optimise your exit at your destination station. Also, there are little outlines of feet to tell people where to start queuing for the next train. In busy stations (or ones with multiple destinations) there are sometimes two sets of queues, next to each other, labelled "first train" and "second train". Once "first train" has boarded, all the people in the "second train" queue step to the left and into the "first train" queue. Amazing.

  • Everything has instructions, rules, and things you're supposed to do and not do. 

  •  Umbrella lockers. Not that anyone in Japan would ever steal anything.

  • Matcha everything. And I mean, everything.

  • Iced coffee is everywhere, including in vending machines, particularly the fact that it's served without milk, as a lot of Japanese are lactose intolerant.
  • Hooks or baskets for your purse everywhere you sit down, like in coffee shops and restaurants.
  • Little towels or wipeys before every meal/snack
  • Shinkansen run every 10 minutes between Osaka and Tokyo, bang on time! Even cooler: the seats swivel so you don't have to face backwards.

  • Taiko video games

    • And now, in my humble opinion, the list of dopey things about Japan:

      • The complete decentralisation of the subway. The lines are owned by a bunch of different companies and it can be tricky to transfer.
      • Riding bikes with the seat as low as it will go. (Apparently this makes them feel safer; no consideration given to the fact that it's stupendously inefficient.)
      • So much shopping - it's a massively consumer-centric culture and economy.
      • No smoking outside but you CAN smoke in cafes and pubs.
      • So much packaging - everything you buy gets wrapped up and put in a bag with a sticker and the receipt, even if you're only buying a bottle of water.
      • Plastic water bottles everywhere.
      And there you have it, my thoughts on Japan.