A couple of weeks ago, I spent a long weekend in Japan. I was so excited to go there, I didn’t for a second consider rescheduling my trip when I learned I would have to postpone a couple of my midterms!
During my visit, I got the chance to visit both Kyoto and Tokyo, both of which were full of different impressions and amazing experiences!
After spending the Friday evening in Tokyo, I took the Shinkansen train to Kyoto, where I spent the Saturday visiting a big temple – I got to see how the characteristic roofs are traditionally built and saw lots of people in their traditional clothing visiting. Afterwards I ate green tea flavored ice cream and window shopped for some of the amazing pickled Japanese treats!
In Kyoto I also got to see a local pagoda, which was incredibly impressing and very peaceful, and I got to eat a traditional Japanese dinner in a restaurant where we sat on the floor by some small dining tables.
I spent Sunday in Tokyo, where I wandered the Aoyama area, perusing bookstores and cafés and soaking up the local athmosphere and culture. I found that while the locals in Japan are raised in a very very different culture, they are generally very friendly and helpful – their curiosity definitely overwins any negative bias they may have been taught. And while I had heard that many tourists have trouble communicating in Japan, I found that a great deal of the Japanese speak either English or Chinese, and a big part of their written language is indeed similar to Chinese.
One thing that I found both fascinating and inspiring about the Japanese culture, is how particular the japanese people are about many things. For example, you will never find as much as a single piece of trash on the streets, and this despite public trash cans being few and far in between. In Japan I could be perfectly content sitting down on the sidewalk and not feel the least bit disgusted about it. In China I would never dare to as much as touch the ground anywhere in the city! And if you notice on my photos, when you order a soy milk based coffee drink at a café they give you a lactose intolerance “token” that you can show to the barista, to ensure that you really do not get cow’s milk in your coffee, which I think is an incredibly thoughtful gesture. It is my impression that at most cafés in the west, the barista doesn’t really care about such things.
This weekend trip has definitely peaked my curiosity for Japan, and I would love to come back to see even more of the country and its’ unique culture!