Entry: First Impressions Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Japan is the ideal holiday destination

 + fascinating  
more than can possibly be described here - but see photos for first impressions
 + well organised can set clocks by trains, great signs, all 400.000 vending machines work
 + passion for excellent food            especially seafood
 + squeaky clean and orderly people, streets, transport, bank notes, ...
 + polite    90 degree bowing and handing things with two hands
 + safe even for women at midnight in parks
 + no tourists not even Germans or Americans 
 + slim beautiful people especially while young
 + great air-con not too cold, totally pervasive

However there are some disadvantages

 - heat and humdity (but see air-con above)
 - distance from Europe, within Tokyo
 - expensive but no worse than London
 - no fruit only as 10.000yen gifts

The following rumours are not true

you will never be invited to a japanese home they even have an official home visit programme !
earthquakes pathetic. haven't felt a thing. "big" typhoon was rubbish too
language difficulty everything very clearly signed in english and people very friendly and helpful - less problems travelling than in Munich's MVV
technophilia hard to find internet access anywhere.  mobile phones just used for talking and texting as in Europe. but very high-tech toilets.
manga you can read these in internet cafes 
have to take shoes off everywhere  no - only in temples, homes and ryokans
hold old traditions high most Japanese think No theatre boring and don't know what netsuke is.
Tea Ceremony is popular as a hobby, however
Mount Fuji never seen - always in clouds
Godzilla doesn't seem to exist either


- why does a nation so devoted to aesthetics have all their towns so incredibly ugly?
(Answer: Japan grew from 75 to 175 million in 100 years, Japanese are better at details than the grand schemes)

- where do the English habits of driving on the left, tucking sheets in, scones, .co.jp, admiration of transitory values, non-explictit communication, self-deprecation, complex social conventions and cucumber sandwiches come from?
(Speculation: from William Adams, the last foreign samurai in 17th century - originally from Cornwall - a Shogun adviser)

All in all an ichi-go ichi-e  ("once in a lifetime") holiday
... and here is the next trip ...

We ate a scorpion, dried fishes' heads, survived typhoons and earthquakes, were refused entry into china (and thus to our way home) and had an emergency root canal operation - but otherwise we had the most exciting holiday of our lives in Japan. Also outside Japan we had the nicest hotel (Mandarin Oriental Manila), nicest beach resort (Pearl Farm) and the best discount shopping (Peking) of our lives.


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