The Best and Worst of Japan: Overview
Trip Start Mar 15, 2008
30Trip End Oct 02, 2009
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(In no particular order)
1. Japan rail. This is probably the best transport system in the world. No kidding. If your train ticket says your train is leaving from 10:51 and arriving at 12:33, you'd better believe it, virtually to the second. Plus, you almost never have to book, just rock up and there's almost a 99% chance that a train going to where you want to go is already waiting or leaving within the next 30 mins. Japanese precision at it's best.
2. The food. Yummy pork, soup, rice and even sushi. Although the sushi is a little more obscure than what we're used to in Aus (raw squid, etc, you know). Oh and the dumplings. Oh, and the bakery goods. I could go on.
3. The people. Very friendly and almost always willing to help. Despite the language barrier.
4. Vending Machines. If you've been reading, you'll already know my love of these machines. The cans of hot coffee, corn soup, Dr Pepper. And always very cheap, no ridiculous mark-up. JOY!
5. The Prices. I don't think we ever paid over $20 for dinner; sometimes we paid a lot less. Even tourist entry to most things were under $10.
6. Lost in Translation. Some of my favourites: A poster add for some event called DOME. A clever graphic artists split the word up on the poster into two lines, probably to look cool and designerly to read: DO ME. And then there was Iyo Bank. Get it? I-yo or, I owe bank? See our Tokyo blog for the hilarious explanation of Pachinko.
7. The Cherry Blossoms. Picturesque.
8. The customer service. You ask for something and you get it. It's not that hard, is it?
9. Tokyo. The real big city experience. Crazy crowds, odd people, plenty of new things to see.
10. The weather. So we were there at the right time, not to hot, not too cold. Only one day of rain. A good alternative to the 16-day heatwave we left behind.
1. No accommodation in Kyoto. What else can I say? Bloody tourists.
2. Japan airlines lack of legroom. I'm not even 6 feet tall. And the Japanese aren't that short. Oh well, it's a small thing I guess.
Leah's reflections on Japan
Japan was one of my favourite travel places from my last trip in 2005. So with that in mind I was very excited and yet a little anxious at heading back there this time. Excited to be enjoying the friendliness of the Japanese people, the quirky mix of old meets new that Japan does so well and of course hoping to try some more local foods that I didn't get the chance to last time. I was anxious because what if this time it wasn't so good? What if I go there and the wonderful memories from last time are tainted?
I think it took all of 1 hour to realise that although time has past the basic foundations of Japan are the same and these were things I can say I loved both times. I find Japan is such an easy place to travel. The people are so helpful and this time I didn't find the language barrier as much of a difficulty as last time. It is an efficient and convenient society that commands respect in a quiet and awe inspiring way. The small space with so many people runs like clock work and is dependable which is a huge comfort to the wearied backpacker.
This time around I loved the cuisine(especially the okonomiyaki and set plates!) and seeing more of the southern part of Japan. It was also much cheaper than I remembered. We managed to see so many facets of Japan in our short 2 weeks. From historical castles, temples, shrines and traditional onsens to natural wonders of the hot springs and the beautiful Japanese countryside not to forget the technological wonder of the Sony building, train system and the neon that is Tokyo at night. Also our time spent in beautiful Hiroshima is embedded in my memory and has certainly enlightened me to the impacts of nuclear weaponry and how wrong this technology is in every possible way.
I am so grateful that I have been lucky enough to experience this wonderful place for a second time and hey if anyone is planning an overseas holiday I recommend you consider Japan!