Sunday, 29 April 2018

8 Random Observations About Japan

Here's a throwback post on eight random observations when I visited the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo in June 2017.

1) Standing on different sides of the escalator

Despite being in the same country, people in Osaka (Kansai region) stand on the right side of the escalator whilst in Tokyo they stand on the left.

This photo was taken at one of the metro stations in Osaka: 

See what I said about people standing on the right in Osaka ...

Unfortunately I didn't take any photo of the metro escalator in Tokyo to show you that they stand on the left side.

2) Many senior citizens in Kyoto

I notice that there are many senior citizens in Kyoto compared to Osaka and Tokyo. Maybe because Kyoto is not a busy city compared to the other two and therefore would make a better retirement place.

The older generation in Japan are generally strong and healthy, probably due to the amount of walking and cycling that they do. Genes play a huge part too. Wish I had some Japanese genes for my old age.

These senior citizens are also useful. Each time I got lost in Japan, they were the ones who gave me directions, and without speaking a  word of English at that. We just used sign language. I tell you, the senior citizens would make good volunteers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

An elderly couple at a bus stop in Kyoto.

3) Needs more laundromat or coin laundry

Japan has many vending machines and coin lockers to store your luggage, but certainly not enough laundromats.

I went to do my laundry at one of the laundromats in Tokyo on a weekday evening and I had to queue. That annoyed me because laundomats are supposed to be less busy on weekdays.

If I had the resources, I would open a chain of laundomats in Japan, seriously.

Another thing ... all instructions at the laundomats are in Japanese, here's an example: 

Even the instructions on the detergent box is in Japanese:

Thankfully I could figure out the instructions because I use the laundromat weekly at my home. After all, how different can laundromat instructions be even from different parts of the world. 

Enough of vending machines and more laundromats please.

4) No stray dogs or mongrels

I notice there were hardly any stray dogs or mongrels in Japan. 

I saw a homeless man in the Roppongi area in Tokyo and he had an Akita breed which is the same breed as the infamous Japanese dog, Hachiko. The guy's dog didn't look thin or malnourish and I wonder how he sustains the dog.

Here are photos of local folks with their pet dogs:

Twosome in a pram.
(Photo was shot in Kyoto)

Pet poodle going for a stroll. 
(Photo was shot at the Dotonbori area in Osaka)

5) Dustbins are difficult to find

You would have probably heard this before from people who have returned from Japan, that Japan is very clean and rubbish bins are difficult to find.

So if you're visiting Japan, remember to keep a plastic bag in your bag at all times to store litter until you find an avenue to dispose of it properly.

6) Road names are in Japanese

We were looking for the Arashiyo-beya sumo stable in Tokyo which is located in a small alley. Google Maps was erractic that morning and we kept walking in circles. In the end someone helped to show the directions.

Despite having the address of the sumo stable with me I still couldn't find the place because the addresses on houses and office blocks look like this:

How to find the road name like this ...

7) Fascination with France

I was surprised to hear music from the Les Miserables soundtrack being played in the Tokyo metro stations. Was expecting to hear Kitaro or some traditional Japanese music, hehehe.

Since we're talking about music in the metro stations, I also heard the sound of chirping birds being played at the stations, probably to help keep the crowd calm during rush hour commute in the crowded trains.

Many of bakeries in Tokyo also sell French pastries instead of Japanese ones. Not sure how close the pastries are in taste compared to original French pastries sold in France though. Maybe the locals are fedup of Japanese pastries and prefer boulangerie et pattiserie ala Japonais.

One of my Japanese colleague had his wedding photoshoot in Paris because he claims his wife is a francophile. Vive la France!

Subway tracks in Tokyo.

8) Small dwellings

The flats that we booked via Airbnb in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo were tiny and suitable for small sized Asians or midgets. If you're a big, burly person, perhaps it's wiser to get a hotel room instead and hope their hotel rooms are not as small as their flats.

Just to give you an idea, the average size of the flats we stayed in was around 250 sq ft. That's just enough space for a double bed and perhaps a 2-seater sofa and a coffee table. A small kitchen and a bathroom is also part of that small space.

Japan probably needs bigger flats in the future considering that the younger generation are getting taller and bigger.

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