Though I am no longer the newest newcomer to Japan, my early impressions have stuck and I am here to share them with you 🙂
Heated Seats- Most especially toilet seats and train seats. It’s a lot colder here than I anticipated, and having a toasty tush is heavenly.
Food-YUM. I admittedly often don’t know what I’m eating since I can’t read Japanese, but I haven’t eaten anything that I really haven’t liked. My favorites? Udon, curry rice, taiyaki, sushi, and okonomiyaki.
Hygiene- When most Japanese people cough or sneeze it is open-mouthed and into the air around them. In a country with so many people where you are often packed in close, this has been a stressful and unpleasant aspect of my daily life. Some people wear face masks, but I’m beginning to think that it’s more to protect them from others than the other way around. I’ve bought some for myself to wear on the train when it’s crowded.
Crowds- I grew up in the country. I’m not used to them and I don’t like them. On the weekends when walking is more like swimming through a crowd of bodies I start to feel claustrophobic and want nothing more than to disappear into the mountains.
Japan is full of contrasts and contradictions. You can go through the busiest part of the city, round a corner, and find a beautiful old temple or shrine. In the midst of modernity, traditional still runs strong.
The Japanese have perfected the art of bicycle riding. I have seen people biking, holding an umbrella, and texting simultaneously. In the rain. There is also any type of helpful gadget imaginable to customize your bike: umbrella holder, baskets galore, extra seat, hand warmers, seat covers, etc.
Everyone has the same umbrella. Why? Because you can buy a simple clear one with a black handle for about 3USD/ 300 yen. A man took pity on us and gave us his when we were lost just after arriving. We now know that it wasn’t a huge setback, but the gesture was no less generous and special. Bring on the rainy season.
Japan is a safe place. People don’t steal and I have yet to feel unsafe, even in the dead of night. It is a welcome change.
Japan is so clean! I’m blown away by how little trash you can find on the streets or otherwise lying around the city. In the morning shopkeepers come out and sweep the leaves off the street in front of their buildings. There is no graffiti on the trains or on the walls.
The trains are fabulous. Having public transportation easily at my disposal is my favorite thing about living in the city. It might take me a while to get around, but I can get most anywhere, and for a reasonable price.
No matter where I am in the city I can always see the mountains in the distance. On hazy or misty days it looks like they are rising up out of nothingness. It’s reassuring to know that they aren’t far away 🙂