Before traveling to Japan I was expecting a cultural shock and I was right, there are many weird and wonderful things in this country.
The weird –
I must say when I first saw a toilet in Japan I was a little bemused, it’s a very strange concept compared to any Western toilet and far from the likes of the old school European toilets which are a hole in the ground. There is every button imaginable on the toilets from spray, bidet, seat warming, water pressure and deodorizer. Even by the end of our trip we still couldn’t get to grips with the toilets in Japan and at one point had a very embarrassing encounter. My friend and I were staying in a 5* hotel in Tokyo and between us we had no idea how to flush the toilet, we looked everywhere. In the end we had to ring reception to ask how to flush the toilet and they sent a member of concierge to show us – how embarrassing!
The plastic food
Usually in English menus you’re lucky if you get a picture of what the food looks like but in Japan there are cabinets with plastic dishes made up to intrigue customers to eat. It’s quite odd but nearly all restaurants have these cabinets, it did bode quite useful throughout our trip as we couldn’t read the menu.
I’ve spent many busy mornings in rush hour in London on the tube but compared to Tokyo it’s something else. Traveling from Yokohoma just outside Tokyo into the city at 8am, we were all crammed into a tiny subway car. When you think no more people could be crammed into the car there are members of staff pushing commuters into the car to make sure the doors shut – it’s crazy. What also surprised me was the woman only cars on the subway, on every subway train there are designated women only cars. I was told this was put in place due to the high amount of groping and sexual abuse committed on the subway at busy times.
The wonderful –
I was lucky enough to take a trip on the bullet train also known as the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Naygoa and then onto Kyoto. It is a great advantage traveling from Tokyo on the bullet train as the routes connect all over the country from the city. Traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto took approximately 3 and ½ hours compared to the 5 and ½ hours drive. I am lead to believe this train is extremely safe and even has technology to detect earthquakes.
The vending machines
I found the vending machines really cool in Japan; they were filled with everything imaginable, from drinks, food, ice cream, flip flops, alcohol, cigarettes and many more strange things. You won’t be stuck for choice either, there are vending machines on every corner and there is never just 1 but at least 3 or 4.
I loved the Japanese culture and totally indulged in it whilst visiting Japan, I made the most of my trip and visited a tea ceremony, visited shrines and temples, dressed in the Geisha outfit, visited Mount Fuji, watched the sumo, watched a traditional boat parade in Osaka and visited a Japanese culture show. I must say I cannot wait to return to Japan it’s completely different to any other country I’ve visited before.