Things I like about Japan
I finally got to the end of Season 4 of 24! Wooooo! Now, did anyone count how many times in the season Jack said: you gotta trust me? What an infuriatingly addictive series.
Anyway, as an antithesis to all my negativity recently, here's a 20 things I DO like about this place list. I intend to expand on this, but it may take a couple of days to get around to. In no particular order then:
- The food - oh what can I say? steaming bowls of soba and udon... sashimi and sushi.... yakitori.... yakinuku.... steamed daikon... nikoman.... okonimiyaki... pocky... fruit in jelly
- The drinks - shochu & sours... pokari sweat... chu hi... melon soda... cassis soda....
- Nomihodai - drink as much as you can for a set price...
- Izakayas - the Japanese equivalent of a pub, I suppose. It's a sit down, drinks served to your table thing, often with a bell to call for service and a very predictable but reasonably satisfying menu of dishes you order and share...
- Convenience stores - ah.... the 'conbeni' a place you can buy ready meals for lunch, get them heated up for your and given with a set of chopsticks... a place you can pay your bills and withdraw cash... buy stationery, bathroom stuff, cute stuff, weird stuff. Just bloody convenient really. And everywhere..
- Vending machines - just as you can't go too far without seeing a conbeni or 10, vending machines serving hot and cold drinks are absolutely everywhere. So convenient.
- Cafe's - Since getting here I've learned the art of lingering for a long time over one drink and studying uninterrupted. Actually, you can understand why they charge so much: people sit, study and don't move for hours, all for the cost of one coffee.
- Ticket restaurants - You walk in, you go up to a machine, choose a dish, insert money, hand ticket to serving person and wait. Simple.
- 100 Yen stores - Not to be confused with the £1's in the UK. The 100 Yen stores (100Yen = 50p/$1 ish) stock a huuuuuge range of stuff, much of which is a pretty decent quality. Particularly popular with, er everyone, it's a good place to stock up on stationery, cleaning stuff, socks, kitchen ware, accessories, noodles.... hell, you name it. I've spent 1000's of yen there since getting here.
- The safety - I've felt 100% safe since getting here. I'm not saying it IS 100% safe, because I'm not that naive, but it FEELS it. It's also a regular sight to see bags left in bike baskets while people go into shops, bags on the floor in cafe's, mobile phones left unattended in cafe's while people go to the toilet. It's nice knowing I don't have to be physically attached to my belongings ALL the time.
- Cheap DVD hire - it's a fraction of the price in the UK. Nothing else to really say about it. And they had all four seasons of '24'.
- Karaoke - to experience is to understand. You don't stand in a bar warbling in front of a load of drunken strangers, you have your own private room with your friends, nomihodai (often) and a tambourine or two.
- Onsens - Hot springs, public baths, soooo relaxing.
- Hanami - Anywhere that has people that go loopy and throw parties because trees are in flower (cherry blossom) has to be okay by me. Hanami parties are great fun.
- Work is stress free - Shit, what can I say? I teach English in a language school. Life is easy. When I left the BBC last year, I left behind so much stress it's starting to fade in my memory now.
- Fashions are ridiculous - It's good having a constant source of fresh amusement at hand.
- Proximity to a whole new continent - Great stuff! I'd never been to Asia before coming to Japan.(Does Israel count as Asia?) Since being here, I've been to Taiwan, Hong Kong and I'm off to Vietnam in six weeks. Cheap, easy, fun, quick, no jet lag!
- Book swaps - I've read some great stuff since being here because people have passed it on. Stuff I'd not have normally chosen to read. Fun!
- Department stores - Gadgets, animal clothes, things... there are heaps of department stores here - well, the Japanese ARE obsessed with shopping.
- Toilets - Heated toilets, showering toilets, toilets with basins attached, public toilets that more than 99% of the time have toilet paper and are generally clean, toilets that flush when you stand up, toilets that talk to you, toilets that play flushing sounds so nobody knows you're peeing, toilets, toilets, toilets......... but I still dislike squat loos.
- Cleanliness - Litter and graffiti are seldom seen. It's nice!
- Art & architecture - I had to put something intellectual on the list. They are both good. Bla bla bla.
- Spring & Autumn - Both are very pretty times of year.
There, is that a bit better now?