There were so many ‘wow’ moments in Japan. It wasn’t even anything especially big, it was all in the detail. Japan is definitely all about the detail. So without further ado…
9 little things I love about Japan:
1. The vending machines
They are everywhere. Not just in the entrance way of a shop, they really are everywhere. There were three on the road we were staying on, just on the pavement. Heck, they were on the top of the Inari mountain in Kyoto just when I needed it (Fushimi-inari). The local metro had about 4 on the platform. Not just cold drinks, no, there were warm drinks too. Hot coffee? Cold coffee? Hot lemon drink (my fav), hot chocolate or grape juice? No need to rush to make a hot drink in the morning when the vending machines have got your back. It is impossible to ever feel dehydrated in this country and I love it. I want my hot lemon drink back!
2. The toilets
The first time I saw a Western toilet in a café with all the exciting buttons on it, I had to tear myself away because it would look a bit weird if I spend ages in the toilet, right?
-Where is your friend?
-Oh yeah, about that, she hasn’t seen a fancy Japanese toilet before – she may be a while.
There are buttons to make flushing noises, heated seats, deodorising sprays. It was really weird and wonderful at the same time. I remember being so intrigued when my Japanese housemate in France tried to explain them to us one time in French, after all that time I was not left disappointed. You would find these in restaurants, service stations, department stores… I feel like we are really missing a trick back in Europe. We need to implement these asap!
3. The service
Okay this is a good thing and a bad thing at times. Japanese service is so attentive. Glasses of water are brought to your table and topped up without you even having to lift a finger. On the other hand, they give you a bag for everything you buy in shops, with the little tape round the top – is that really necessary? Even for the littlest thing. Maybe the fact that we are charged 5p for every bag we need in the UK now, it is going from one extreme to the other. All those plastic bags I accumulated in Japan? Yes, yes I did bring them back in my luggage and now I have lots of plastic bags to use at home. Is that weird?
4. Warm hand towels at the start of every meal
They do this in other cultures, I know, but having a refreshing warm or cold towel before your meal is so nice. Again, we need to implement this and make this a norm in the UK!
5. Everyone carries hand towels in their bags
Hand driers and paper towels aren’t really a ‘thing’ in Japan, so most people carry a hand towel in their bag for this reason. Not only do you feel super organised when you whip your hand towel out in one of these situations and the person next to you doesn’t have one, it makes a lot of sense – maybe even better for the environment (?). Hand towels are a very popular souvenir and I bought such a soft, cute pastel-coloured one with my initial on it to use at home. I will use it (promise).
6. The roof handles on metro trains are just the right height for me to reach. Normally, they are way too high up as I am so small, but Japanese people are on average smaller, so they compensate this on their trains. Yay.
7. On a similar note, no need to find the Petite section in a shop, oh no. Why do that when you can just select a normal pair of trousers and they fit you perfectly, no problem! I wish I could have done more shopping for trousers/clothes in Japan as my height is just the right size for their clothing! I feel bad for tall people though, as like…what do they do..? Oh yeah, struggle like us small people back home. No sympathy.
8. When it is cold, they have under-seat heaters on metro trains. There is nothing more perfect than that.
9. Hanami 花見. I was lucky enough to see Japan during spring-time, near to the end of the cherry blossom season. The cherry blossoms were not in full bloom anymore, but I was lucky enough to see some beautiful sakura (cherry blossom) all the same. I love how there is a Japanese word, hanami (花見) which literally means ‘flower viewing.’ I loved the cherry blossom and it is so cool how there is a universal love and interest in Japan in just appreciating the beauty of nature.
What do you love especially about Japan? Let me know in the comments below!