Here I am after 15 days spent in Japan between Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara. This trip was quite surprising ! The differences in the culture and the behaviour are really interesting to observe. The ”cultural choc” was there and therefore even if it was amazing to discover all those new things, it was nice to go home.
To be confronted with such differences allow you to take a step back from your own country and way of living. Now, I like France a little bit more, because I feel that it’s really the place I can call home. I don’t think that’s the case in every journey you take, if you travel in Europe and live in a European country, you’re still kind of home. We realise that even if every country in Europe is different, have its own identity, our culture and way of being are more or less alike.
I advise you to visit this country, or one in a different continent from yours, to understand what I’m talking about. Moreover, to know a way of living differently from yours.
If you do visit Japan, don’t just go to Tokyo. Kyoto and Nara are really nice towns to see, in addition to other places in Japan of course.
Now, here is a resumé of little stories and thoughts during this trip full of experiences :
– On the plane, before dinner, it’s time for the “apero” ! Gin and tonic in the air. Around two am, the stewards gave us some vanilla and chocolate ice creams. Why so much air conditioning ? Oh, free snacks ! Twelve hours of flight, no sleep for me.
– I can’t really tell you what we eat the first couple of day. We tried to eat in restaurants where Japanese eat, which meant no English menu. We had to use photos or even drawings to choose our meal.
– People are always there to help you. In stations, airports, subway, they come to you as soon as they saw that you’re not Japanese (kind of obvious) or if you seem to hesitate.
– On the street, a Japanese man came to talk to us. We were next to a cab line, so we thought that he was going to ask us something or propose us a cab. That was not the case. The man just wanted to chat with us about France, travelling, the weather. We stayed there for 10 minutes. It was nice.
– You can smoke in most of the restaurants. On the other hand, you can’t smoke freely on the street. There are some areas reserved for smokers on the street. Paradoxical.
– There are some really good Mexican restaurants in Japan ! Yeah well, raw fish, rice and ramen are really nice, but not for fifteen days in a row.
– Akihabara visit, the ”geek” part of Tokyo. We left with six Yo-Gi-Oh! cards with the idea of framing it.
– Sunday, pedestrian day in some parts of Tokyo. Lots of people on the streets !
– Visiting konbini are an endless source of surprises, disgust and laugh. The products are so funny and surprising.
– Crows are the size of chickens. They are so loud that it feels like an old horror movie.
– We got into a restaurant really far from our apartment. The waitress asks us to pay 300 yens before we sit, ”for the table” she says. We ask her why and she answer us ”Because it’s dinner’‘. So we left.
– Fruits and vegetables are prohibitively expensive and so almost never on our plates. Well, we missed them !
– If you are careful, Tokyo subway is really easy to use. Most of the indications and stations are in English.
– From Tokyo, it takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to get to Kyoto (which is the former capital of Japan).
– Kyoto is more traditional. There are fewer buildings and more typical houses. It’s a nice place to take a break from the big and loud Tokyo.
– Near a Kyoto temple, a heron was resting on a stand of small trees. He posed for us. I’ve never seen one this close !
– Nara is a small town one hour away from Kyoto. It, too, was the capital of Japan in the VIIIe century. The city is lovely and above all filled with deer walking around, free ! Best day of our trip. (Ok, maybe because it was also my birthday.)
– We met many travellers during our journey. In Nara, a group of Americans and one English that came to visit the town together. We met them in a delicious ramen place. Frédéric from Toulouse, a literature passionate, who we met on the train back from Nara to Kyoto. Dirma, a Dutch lady living in France for many years. We met her as we were queuing for the best gyoza of our life, we ended up having lunch together.
– I celebrated my 25 birthday during this trip. We were staying at Kyoto and spent the day at Nara. We ended the day with some gin, nachos and quesadillas. Yes, a perfect day.
– Since the beginning of this trip, we couldn’t stop praising the Japanese and their respect, the attention of the other … Until, in a middle of a subway ride, a young women collapse. No reaction what so ever of anyone on the metro. Oh yes, sorry, two “kawaii” (not so much) girls laugh at her. We were the only ones that pull the girl up, sit her on a seat, ask her if she was okay, if she could continue alone ? Nothing unusual for us, it was natural, obvious. It wasn’t the case for everyone on this metro.
– We end this trip with an upgrade ! Eleven hours of flight are nicer when you are in premium. For sure.
I hope you find this article interesting !
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