There is so much I found fascinating about Japan. We made this trip easy and slow- paced; we didn’t pile on a lot of tours.
One super-nice thing was Singapore Air. We flew from PHX to Los Angeles–a quick one-hour flight–then LAX to Tokyo non-stop (same for the return). I was really dreading this super-long haul (12 hrs) — I don’t know why, but it just didn’t feel that long. The Singapore Air service (hot towels), entertainment, and food (candy bars and Haagen Dazs ice cream) on the plane helped.
I can’t tell you anything about the history of Japan. We saw plenty of shrines, temples, and gardens. But for me, I was paying more attention to the everyday life and doing a lot of people-watching.
The subway stations were packed with commuters and everyone seems to wear dark clothes and heavy sweaters and jackets while the weather was in the mid 70’s every day. It seemed like everyone was dressed for business or work. I saw no one in jeans, shorts, or sandals without socks.
The city itself and subway stations were so clean, although it was very difficult to find a trash can. It was also hard to find benches or seating on the streets or subway stations.
I never in the 10 days we were there (Tokyo and Kyoto) saw a beggar or street/homeless people. The city felt extremely safe.
7 Eleven is practically on every block. Besides being a convenience store they are more like fast-food restaurants. They have cooked food in warmers, and lots of cold items packaged for easy to eat. I even saw a bar type eating area inside one 7 Eleven.
In some of the restaurants, you walk in, place your order at a Kiosk machine and sit down. Then the waitress brings you your meal. Also, when you walk into most restaurants–the staff yells out a greeting. Sushi restaurants were not that easy to find. One of our guides said that Japanese people don’t eat it regularly, it’s expensive for them.
In most restaurants there were baskets underneath the table for storing your purse or backpack.
Let me tell you about the bathrooms! Hotels, subway stations, airport, they all had very fancy toilets. There were buttons for bidet, buttons for water-swishing sound, and a seat warmer. Some public bathroom stalls had a little seat for holding a baby, plus they had hooks for holding bags/purse at the sink. Oh, how I wish we had bathrooms like that here.
My favorite sights:
–All the gardens were beautiful, and the fall foliage was just about to peak.
–The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto
–Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara. It was getting dark while we were there and the whole park felt mysterious. It had heavily forested paths leading through a botanical garden.
I would love to go back someday and see more of the small villages and countryside.