Friday, 28 June 2013

♥ Japan

My stay in Japan is rapidly coming to an end and in less than a month I will be back in the UK. I am sad to go as I still feel that Japan has so much more to offer, but at the same time I am sooooo incredibly excited to see all my friends and family. However one thing I am a little bit treading is the moment when I see everybody and they ask: ‘So, how was Japan?’.
How can you resume a whole year of experiences over a drink one evening in the pub? The truth is you can’t and I am little bit afraid of not doing enough justice to all the wonderful (and slightly weird) things I have come across in these past few amazing months. So I have decided to try and put it in writing, while still fresh in my mind, and mention a few of the things (positive and negative) that have definitely made this experience memorable. It would be easy just to say that I love Japanese culture as a whole, but culture is such a general term that incorporates many many aspects, some of which, if I am truthful, I do not like at all.

But first, these are some of the things why I Japan…..

1.      1.  Food- it was, is and will be my greatest love. Whether Japanese or just something I have only come across in Japan so far, I will definitely miss it immensely. From sushi and sashimi, to ramen, tempura, yakiniku, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and many more (still a lot that I haven’t tried yet!) it’s been delicious and such an enjoyment in sampling it all. 

1.     2.  Tall buildings- some people find them overwhelming, I think they are fascinating. So glamorous and strong and I also like them for giving me the opportunity to face my fear of heights. Great way of doing so when you are on the 52nd floor and look straight down at the people on the street. It makes you feel like you can do anything from there. And being lucky enough to live in central Tokyo it has surely given me plenty of opportunities to do so.
1.       3. Small temples - on the side streets. Just love how Tokyo appears to be such a modern and futuristic city, yet you only need to have a look on side streets to find some lovely little treasures in the form of small wooden temples. Of course there are the main temples like Meiji and Sensoji which in theory still show a connection between old and traditional Japan to the new and modern word. But they can be incredibly crowded and in my opinion lack in a suitable ambiance. I much prefer the little wooden buildings, which are often empty, but which offer a small oasis in a hectic world.

1.    4.   Neon lights – although I just talked about loving the peacefulness of small temples, I cannot help but loving the bright neon lights at the same time. They give the city a great vibrancy, and trust me, even with the country being on a ‘Save the Electricity’ campaign, they still live up to their expectations.

1.       5. People’s love for big brands- and I have yet to meet another nation who share such a love for labels. French preferably, but any other well known, expensive brands will do just as well. I will not go too much into this subject as I am so fascinated by it that I will actually dedicate a whole entry to it. But I had to share this picture of bottled water I found in a shop (discount shop for that matter!!!!) which had Swarovski crystals attached to it!!!!! I bet even the water tastes better coming from that bottle.
1.  6. Instructions- Japanese may not always have good road signs or ones easy to follow if you do not speak Japanese, but they sure like to give instruction. Take this one I found in a public loo which only had old style Japanese toilets available. But do not worry if such things happen as they will explain how it is to be used and which direction you need to ‘aim for’ in an appropriate manner, as if it wouldn’t all go down the same place. And fear not, they will fully support you in your attempt and even wish you Good Luck for the ‘journey’.
1.     7.  Nomihodai- In a country where, when I arrived I found everything to be extremely expensive, I was incredibly happy to discover the concept of Nomihodai. This refers to restaurants, bars, but mostly Izakayas (Japanese pubs) offering the opportunity to drink as much as you can from a set menu, for a set price and for a set amount of time. Great! It definitely seems to be extremely popular with Gaijin students in particular who are slightly feared by the establishment owners though, for their ability to consume large quantities in a very short amount of time. I don’t think this concept would catch up in the UK though as pubs would be drunk dry in less than a week.

1.    8.  China Town in Yokohama- considered the large China Town outside China in the world, when you go there you feel like you are stepping in a completely different world. People say that Japan, apart from its location, has nothing to do with Asia at all, but when you’re here you sure feel that you are in Asia.
1.    9.   Harajuku- It used to be THE place to go to if you wanted to see the ‘crazily’ dressed girls, but not so much anymore. I simply love it for the shoooopppppiiing!!!! Great discount shops with lots of cool stuff. And that’s even without mentioning all the amazing vintage shops doted on the streets around it.

1.       10.The Shinkansen – Whether its reputation precedes its name or its name precedes its reputation, it is exactly as you would expect it to be: fast, reliable, sleek and comfortable. There’s no other way I wish I could travel, if it was available everywhere in the world.
1.       11. Japanese Language- yes, Kanji included. It is complex, incredibly difficult to learn and comprehend, does not make sense most of the time and it has a whooping 8000 word basic vocab list (WTF!!!!!!). It mostly gives me the impression that I am completely useless when trying to communicate my feelings but now and again it appears like a veil lifts and it all makes sense. Studying it is an immense challenge but one that I am still so happy to take on.

1.      12.  Kimonos- no further explanation required J but how wonderful that some women still wear them on a daily basis.

And last but not least I Tokyo for the fact that it gives you fantastic opportunities to experience not only the Japanese culture (or a big part of it anyway), but also how the Japanese people perceive other cultures. You pretty much have everything on your doorstep and whether you want to see a play, a concert, spend hours shopping in a mall or in little boutiques on back streets, pray in a temple, visit a museum or go out with your friends for Nomikai (drinking get together- it mostly involves Nomihodai, but not always), everything is extremely easily accessible and at reach.

Until next time x

#Japan #shinkansen #nomikai #harajuku

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