Saturday, October 17, 2009

How was Japan?

"How was Japan?"
This probably the one of the most frequent asked questions I received when asked about my recent Japan trip. I wish I could pour my brains out and tell them what I've seen, ate, feel...pretty much everything. It was all TOO MUCH...too much bliss.

Japan is definitely one of the surreal holiday destination I'd ever been to. I swear I could just stroll around the city observing people going to work, little kids rushing to school in a public bus all by themselves, grandmas roaming the city independently using the trains. That's a sight I don't usually get back here in Malaysia.

This is Japan through my eyes. Well, some of it :)

1. DS is sizzling hot in here!
Young kids, young mother with 3 months infant, grandpa in a suit, office lady...heck, most of them have Nintendo DS in their hands. I thought PSP would be big here. Even McDonalds (spelled ma-ka-dona-roo-doh) have a DS wi-fi access and not accessible via computer nor mobile!

2. Disabled friendly city!
I think most developed city would have facilities for disabled person. I was quite amazed when I saw three blind individuals holding each others back, waiting for a train. FYI, most roads in Tokyo has a long line of dotted path for the blinds to walk on.


3. Japan is Fashion!
It's not all bizarre and blings here, believe it or not. For them, its the attention to details and accessories. Nothing too over the general. Everything from colorful, shiny branded sneakers, mobile phone blings, sun hat, business suits, you name it!

Will I be able to see fashionable locals wearing costumes or simply a spikey haired Goku in public places?
You might find them walking aroung the fashion hub Harajuku or meido icon city, Akihabara, but rarely in train, which is their no. 1 transportation here in Japan. They could walk around Akihabara or Akiba in samurai suit on some playful occasions, but on daily basis, they are just erm, 'normal' Clarke Kent. Don't be surprised, it's like they have alter egos. I've asked the locals and they told me that most of them change it in the washroom or locker room. From Superman back to CK. The least you can see on them is the trace of super-anime contact lens they're wearing. This, I found after the TGS (Tokyo Game Show) '09 event. "Girls in super bright blue eyes. Ooh, blimey!"

I found this chic group in Asakusa. They were performing some numbers at an outdoor stage, just in between the market and the temple. I've no idea how famous they are until I saw them at the screen at Shibuya city screen.

Bobbing their head and showing off some acrobatic moves (which almost reminds me of Sailormoon, they sing, "Lai lai lai lai lai lai..."

4. For hectic, rat race city, Tokyo seems to produce a lot of family man...
Having been to a similar country like Singapore, due to lifestyle and higher cost of living, I would expect that Japanese are less likely to settle down and have family. But again, I was wrong. I found a lot of them strolling around the park, zoo and museums. Even gramps spending quality time with their grand kids. Bring smiles to my face seeing young parents bringing toddlers and little kids to museums and zoo. Oh yes, and dogs too!

5. Shopping!!!
Well, if your country's exchange rate is lower than Japanese yen, then be a smart traveler and spender - only spend things you can't get in your country. For Malaysia's case, we have a lot of Japanese imported goods in Jusco and also RM5 store, Daiso.

I would use my money more on trains and the food...that's more worth it to me.

I will talk more about expenditure traveling in Japan soon.

6. Trains, trains, trains!
Took me awhile to realize that there are two types of train system in Japan; the National line (JR aka Yamanote line) and the subway line (ie. Ginza line, Chuo line). All along, I thought its just JR lines all the way. Took me at least 2-3 days to get used to it. With the right map, some basic Japanese like "Ikura desuka?" (How much is it?) and "Shibuya doko desuka?" (Where is Shibuya?) and the power of navigating, traveling in Japan can be quite do-able. No, you don't need to have a killer geographical sense..I've bad sense of directions (when driving). Hm, I think I'm more of a pedestrian person.

Again, will open up another topic on 'Navigating in Tokyo' soon. Whoa! Too many things to explain on that :D

7. Maneki neko (Lucky Cat)? Hello Kitty? Are you kidding me? Tokyo's a DOG city!
Big, small, fluffy, short, tall...I've seen it all! I don't spot cats though...well, obviously cos you don't walk the cat. Hahahaha!

8. Japanese does not have FAT legs - those are muscles!!!
The locals here spend most of their activities if not walking, cycling from point A to another. Therefore, you don't see many overweight people in Tokyo. Well, exception for Ryogoku, the sumo city, lol! And to make it more challenging, they add with killer high heels and boots! Kudos to them, I have NO idea how they do it.

9. Killer vending machine!
Hot, cold drinks in bottles, vitamin water, milk tea, ice cream cones, cigarettes, Haagen Dazs, bowl in soup, underwear....if it fits the machine, then vending it is!

And this my friend, is my no. 2 spending items in Japan. Just can't help it! Must have Pokari Sweat! :D

10. Tokyo is NOT wi-fi-free friendly
Believe it or not, this is true. Advance or not, I think Tokyo's one tough city to get access to wi-fi (free wi-fi), even McDonalds. My advice, get accommodations that provide free internet access. Or better, if you are on business trip or working + holiday trip like me, stay at the ones with free, unlimited internet access. If you're coming in group, I would suggest a mini router or a USB adapter. Trust me, you don't want to buy these in Japan. Go Lowyat!

Sometimes, while walking around the city, you'll get lucky if you happen to find any unlocked wi-fi access ;). I got a lot of them while strolling around Akihabara, esp. the electronic store.

I've been to a magical land...and you should to :)


  1. reading this makes me want to go to Japan, even more than ever, thank you for posting this :)

  2. My pleasure, Mariam. It's a surreal place to travel to and widen your horizons in every aspects! Accommodations and food are not that expensive if you know where to go and eat.


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