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Published: March 17th 2018
Roads and public transports
It is impressive how a whole country can be so organised and everyone so mindful of others. There does not seem to be many traffic jams, there is always a lot of space between two cars, whether they are driving or stopped at a traffic light. As for buses and trains, they are always on time. People do not talk loudly in the public transports and answering your phone is not allowed in most buses and subways - we have seen quite a few Japanese people ignoring their phone calls while in the subway. Buses have two doors, like the buses in England, but people get on through the back door as they have to pay when leaving the bus, through the front door. Bus drivers have a microphone and communicate with the people inside the bus: they say which stop is next, where to stop if you want to go to which or which bank or shop and, more importantly, they say "thank you very much" to everyone when they get off the bus.
The main roads have very large pavements with a path for bicycles. On smaller roads, a white line on the
side delineates the pavement. Smoking is prohibited on most roads, but there are special places for smokers and smoking is allowed in some bars, coffee shops and restaurants (sometimes with a special smoking room). Smoking while walking is not really a thing here, it is actually not allowed in many places and there are many signs in the subway asking people not to use their phones while walking. Eating while walking is also frown upon. People stop and stand to eat!
Another uncommon thing is that there are almost no bins in the streets. Despite the fact that you have to go to a convenience store to find a bin, or next to an automatic food/drink dispenser on the street if you're lucky, the streets are very clean. The subway in Osaka and Kyoto were clean and new but the one in Tokyo reminded me of the Paris metro as it was pretty old and looked really run down.
We didn't see any homeless people in any other city than Tokyo but there were quite a few in Tokyo, in the less touristy areas. Restaurants
Service in restaurants is always very good: all of the
staff usually says hello when you come in, and goodbye when you leave. There is a button on the table that you press when you want a waiter to come over. We really liked the all you can eat Yakuniku in Kyoto!
I will remember Japan as the country where I was the most hungry, though! We did not have proper meals twice a day, usually having "convenience lunches" from the convenience store and sometimes missing breakfast as well! Toilets (yes!)
Toilets are usually not something worth mentioning: we have seen the most disgusting toilets in some countries. Toilets in Japan, even if sometimes they are squatting toilets, are always sparkling clean. And, when they are what us Euopeans call "proper toilets", the seat is warm and you have certain options to clean yourself with splashing water while sitting on there. I did not try any of these but I did press the "privacy" button in some public toilets, as I found it quite intriguing: it made a flushing sound, loud enough to mask any sounds that people on the toilet would make... Politeness at its peak! People
Japanese people never want to attract attention so they are usually quiet, even in the streets. They do not usually blow their nose in public, either, so Shaun and I had to hide everytime we needed to blow our noses! People are very polite, bowing and saying "thank you" all the time!
Visiting Japan has been a very good experience. My favourite place was Kanazawa, less touristy but not less beautiful! Seeing mount Fuji, although we couldn't climb it, was also an amazing experience!
We had been told Japan was expensive but we managed to find pretty cheap food and accommodation - comparatively speaking, it was much cheaper than in Europe. Transport, however, is expensive especially the Shinkansen (bullet train) which is crazy expensive and not that impressive - taking a bus is a much cheaper option if you plan your travels in advance as seats tend to be booked up pretty early.
Japanese culture is very different - although we didn't experience a culture shock. It is quite frustrating not to be able to read anything anywhere though! We got lost quite a few times in the subway in Tokyo as the signs are not always very clear.
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