Watch the Sunday gang in Harajuku
Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
16Trip End Dec 22, 2007
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1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, JAPANESE TOILETS ARE AMAZING
Rarely, if ever, has a society invested so much time and resources in bathroom-related technology. As ever, though, the best ideas are the simplest, and my absolute favourite thing about Japan is the toilets have a little sink in the top of the cistern so you can wash your hands in the flush. We should get these in Britain forthwith.
2. JAPANESE SOCIAL MORES ARE BAFFLING
As I discovered when I made the fatal mistake of sipping delicately from a bottle of fruit juice on a train
HAGGIS: That's a massive cultural faux-pas!
ME: But I saw Japanese people drinking on a train the other day!
H: Which train?
M: The one from Tokyo.
H: Ah; the Shinkansen. That's different...
At one bar I went into, they made me put my bag into another bag. Why? Christ knows. I didn't like to ask.
3. JAPANESE PEOPLE ARE AMONG THE NICEST IN THE WORLD
Even in a big city like Tokyo. By way of illustration, last night somebody gave me some watermelon.
4. AUGUST IS HOT
Everyone who lives in Japan looked at me like I was a crazy person for visiting in the height of summer
5. JAPAN IS A GOOD PLACE TO GO FOR A DRINK
This surprised me.
6. THE LANGUAGE IS INTIMIDATINGLY DIFFICULT
Apparently they have a slightly different numbering system for counting cylindrical objects. That fact is enough to put me off trying to learn Japanese ever.
7. VEGETARIANISM IS TRICKY
From what I can gather, Japan invented vegetarianism, then forgot about it forever. Hurrah for Thailand, India and Mexico. And hurrah for Japanese Subway and their avocado sandwich.
8. JAPAN ISN'T AS EXPENSIVE AS EVERYONE THINKS
Eating out is cheaper if anything
9. IT'S A GOOD PLACE TO BE A TOURIST
There are Japanese tourists everywhere (during Obon, anyway), so you don't feel too conspicuous trudging round with a rucksack photographing things. Although oddly there aren't very many Western tourists at all. There's a gap in the market there.
10. I AM LIKE DAVID BECKHAM
I am, according to the lovely but crazy people of Tokyo, like David Beckham. How, I do not know. Maybe they just meant I'm a little bit dim.
Anyway, that's enough about Japan.