Cities are flying by. I try to look at the scenery outside, but all I see is a blur. I wonder if I hadn’t put my glasses back on after my nap, but soon I realize the blur is caused by the fact I am on the Shinkansen to Kyoto, traveling at 200 miles per hour. On this train I reflect on my first days in Japan, a place I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time.
Impressions of Japan
While on the train my thoughts start drifting away, thinking about my first days in Japan. I decide to put them down, afraid to forget these first impressions of Japan.
Silence while riding the subway
“… and please refrain from talking on your phone.” is one of the first things I hear when taking the subay in Tokyo. And to my surprise, everybody seems to listen to the lady who says this. People are playing on their phone, but no one is actually talking. Or, if they need to make a phone call, people cover their mouth so other people won’t be bothered by the sound. Speaking of sounds, the only sound I hear is the sound of silence and a bell every now and then when we stop at a station. Where subways in Beijing are a cacophony of sounds, the subways in Tokyo are very quiet.
Before I got on the train that was going to take us to our hostel, I got a little panic attack. This was caused by a brief look at the subway map. This map looked so complicated, I honestly had no idea how we were going to be able to navigate through the city. To my relief I got a map of all the JR Lines and the next day, we were able to navigate around the city like we’d been living in Tokyo for years!
Ramen, sushi & fried shrimp with avocado
One of the reasons Miguel & I had been wanting to go to Japan was because of the amazing food. We love good food and we love the Japanese kitchen. A bowl with ramen noodles or fresh sushi, I would almost allow you to wake me up for it in the middle of the night. So far the food has been amazing! I loved the sushi we had at a restaurant close to Senso Ji and the bowl of noodles we ate in Harajuku were to die for!
I shouldn’t forget to mention the fried shrimp and avocado though! I ate this in a cute little baseball restaurant right next to our hostel (K’s Tokyo). This restaurant was packed with locals, had nothing but posters of baseball players on the wall and it had an open kitchen where the cook was making the food.
Wow, the people in Japan are so friendly! It’s almost unbelievable. Everybody is willing to help, people in cars stop if you want to cross the street (I’m not used to this, especially living in China) and often approach others with a smile.
Besides people being friendly, I also noticed how well people (well, mostly men to be honest) are dressed. I knew Japanese had a sense for fashion, but it’s different when you actually see it for yourself. People pay attention to their hair, wear pretty clothes (suits) and shoes and all that makes it easy for people to look good, which I don’t mind at all! To me it seems that people in Japan pay more attention to their appearance than people do in China.
Akihabara & Anime
Have you been to Akihabara? No? Well, I am sure it will amaze you just like it amazed me. Hundreds of electronic shops and just as many shops filled with endless amounts of games and anime figures. I was especially intrigued by the anime figures. They come in all sorts and sizes and vary in price just as much as they do in size. A few examples of what I saw; figures that looked like dinosaurs, but weren’t quite dinosaurs and dolls with the body of a full grown women, but with the face and clothes of a teenage girl. With my mouth open I walked around the stores, no sure what to think of this part of Japanese culture. It’s a completely different world, a world of imagination.
Looking for KitKats and the ‘WOW factor’
To end this post about my first impressions of Japan, I would like to mention something I haven’t seen or experienced yet. I have yet to see these super strange tools, candy and packages. Also, I still haven’t found any KitKat’s with a special flavor (other than matcha). Same for candy. I’ve seen a lot of YouTube videos about Japanese candy, but I haven’t seen any of those in the supermarkets. Unfortunate, because I would love to try these kind of things. Hopefully I will see these things in the next couple of days, I would love to try some typical candy!
Have you been to Japan? What were your first impressions of Japan?