When I wrote about some of the things I saw in Korea (22 things seen in Seoul), I didn’t know that they would be very much the same in Tokyo. Things like ‘cabbage flowers’, small dogs and the presence of the Salvation Army.
However, some things were not the same (which is a bit of a relief for the sake’s of this blog post), so here we go….!
1. People standing on boxes shouting
They always stood on boxes to shout, even when the box was so little it didn’t really give any sort of height advantage? I realise the photo I have of this isn’t about to prove my point though!
2. Smoking inside
It has been the longest time since I saw someone smoking inside, let alone in a restaurant.
The toilets where always so nice, and always had a panel full of lots of buttons. Some can play you music and such things, but I was content with working out the characters for just flushing the toilet (all you need to know are the characters for big and small…). A lot of the time you don’t even need that as the toilet will flush automatically when you stand up.
Also toilet slippers. I am a big fan. Special slippers to sit on the toilet in, like literally what is not to like?
4. Japanese English
Most of the time you can work out the meaning, but I did find some of the phrasing very funny? Also, I feel like there is a slightly irrational fear of ‘getting caught in the treads’ of escalators? Has this actually happened to anyone?
5. Bins are ‘dust boxes’
6. The Carpenters, The Beatles and Carly Rae Jepsen are very loved….
I had actually never heard The Carpenter’s 1972 classic ‘Top of the World’ before going to Japan, where I heard it about four or five times! Also, people are familiar with more of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs than just ‘Call Me Maybe’ and ‘I Really Like You’.
7. ….So is Piko Taro (who I call ‘The Pineapple Man’)
You can buy fancy dress as this guy, watch adverts that he is in, and this song ‘Pen Pineapple Apple Pen’ (PPAP) is incredibly famous! Here is the original for those of you not yet familiar:
And here is a truly bizarre mash-up with Handel’s Messiah broadcast on Japanese TV for New Year’s!
8. There is no such thing as the Ground Floor
I didn’t notice this for quite a long time, but it helped explain my feeling of always arriving at a floor ‘early’, with me thinking we still had another escalator to go up!
Also, floors are named 1F, 2F, 3F etc. with ‘F’ standing for Floor (I presume), but the F is kinda superfluous.
9. Clothing – Kimonos are beautiful and a lot of ‘normal’ dress makes you want to say kawaii (cute)!
Please excuse my slightly-creepy-taking-photos-of-people-when-they-can’t-see.
10. Shoe lockers
As a rule, you will take off your shoes when you enter a house. The same is true in some larger places, like at the Elderly People’s home I visited on New Year’s day and at onsen – for which you will find shoe lockers at the entrance.
11. Being given pyjamas (and sometimes toothbrushes)
I was surprised the first time I was given pyjamas by the girl I stayed with, but this became a bit of a theme, even my hotel room for NYE provided them?
12. Tsunami Caution Sign
A very new thing for me to be cautioned about! This sign prompted me to ask Ai and Yukina who I was with at the time about how many earthquakes they had experienced – ‘countless’ being the response. Their Junior Graduation Ceremony was actually cancelled because of a particularly strong earthquake which caused many deaths.
On a more lighthearted note, Yukina informed me a couple of days later that I’d slept through an earthquake that had happened at 1am (when she was still awake watching anime…).
13. Panasonic Hairdryers
So Panasonic have complete monopoly on hairdryers! Seriously, I stayed in a lot of different places and always found a Panasonic hairdryer around.
14. Displays of Plastic food
15. Lots of Cube Cars
I love cube cars (I find corners kinda cosy and comforting) so was very happy with this! 🙂
16. Ordering your food via a ticket machine.
You enter your money, select an option, and then are given a ticket which you hand in to the kitchen. Quite a good, but also quite a weird, system!
17. The Most Orderly Overflowing Bins
This is beautiful. What UK bin would be respected like this? (also saw this more than once, so it’s not a fluke!)
18. Gaming Areas
Floor upon floor of all things gaming in shop upon shop.
19. An Eagle and Owl crossing the street
20. Purikura (pu-li-ku-la) and the Snow app
I feel like I’ve saved the best until last (excluding pineapple man). Japanese photo machines are truly crazy. You get entire floors of them in gaming shops, and the photo machines really mean business!
You pose as instructed, then your faces is automatically edited, and you go round to a booth where you spend about 10 minutes further editing your face, the background, adding stickers and text and arranging the layout of the photos before copies are printed out.
It’s not a particularly pretty sight. Please enjoy only one of my eyes being made brighter in some of these photos!
There’s also a really popular app called Snow (the Snapchat equivalent), which adds very cute filters….
…with a few exceptions…
That’s all from me for now, but there is one more post I’d really like to write about my time away in Japan, about the New Year celebrations, so please watch out for that! 🙂