When we were in Japan I kept thinking how I couldn’t wait to start blogging about it! We’ve been back almost two weeks now and I found I had a mild case of writer’s block. I just didn’t know where to start or how to do it justice. So I’ve decided to start with a simple (first) post on why I fell in love with Japan.
It’s like no city I’ve ever seen before
We’ve been to a LOT of cities, even a few in Asia, yet Tokyo and Kyoto were so different and it’s hard to articulate why. I guess it’s the contrasts (although you get that too in Bangkok) from modern buildings to ornate, old temples. It was also very, very clean despite there being few public rubbish bins. There are a lot of cities I love who often have a bit of a dirty or grimy feel about them (yes London, I’m looking at you). The cities we visited in Japan just seemed spotless and new! It was also really safe. At no point did I ever feel unsafe or uneasy – it’s definitely the safest city we’ve ever visited. Also, everyone is so polite and courteous – they even form orderly queues to get on public transport!
The stylish clothes and colourful kimonos
I think Japan has to be one of the most stylish countries I’ve ever visited. Most Japanese definitely have a flair for fashion and look so effortlessly chic (a lot like the French, actually). However, it was the traditional dress that really caught my eye. Everywhere we went, we spotted beautiful kimonos. In Kyoto in particular it seemed everyone was wearing one. Part of me would have loved to hire one for the day (there are shops everywhere where you can do this) but surely there’s nothing more ‘fancy dress’ than a non-Japanese woman wearing a kimono? Although I didn’t wear one, here are a few of my favourite kimono photos:
The interesting markets
If you think London has some great markets (they do) then wait until you see Japans’! I love a good market – there’s something about the atmosphere and the curiosity that can be sparked that is so exciting. I could have spent a whole day at some of these markets, just exploring what was on offer and also it’s great for people-watching. Don’t ask me what most of the stuff for sale was but that was what was so fun! And if you’re brave, definitely try the free samples or buy some street food from one of the stalls. The best markets that we visited were Nishiki in Kyoto and Sensoji/ Nakamise in Tokyo. Sadly we didn’t make it to the famous Tsukiji fish market. The thought of having to get up at 4am was strangely not that appealing!
It’s so fun
Tokyo, in particuar, is really fun! I love how teenagers and young adults are free to express themselves in their clothes and accessories. It took a lot of willpower not to buy iPhone covers with Hello Kitty or cute little Harajuku-style dresses and handbags (I did cave in and buy Hello Kitty slippers though). And it seems it’s not just for the young either… this guy was about 40!
Apart from the cuteness of the clothes and accessories, you can have fun playing retro video games in Super Potato in Akihabara (dubbed Tokyo’s electric town). I even met a childhood hero!
Even the toilets were fun! The one in our hotel room lifted its lid as soon as you approached and had little lights so you could see in the dark. There were a host of buttons that did a number of things (I’ll leave it to your imagination) and some public toilets had a button which played bird sounds… and the seats were always heated. I wish we could get these in London!
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