On this trip to Japan, I felt like one of my main goals was to see cherry blossoms. So during my next two days in Japan, that was what I looked out for. Unfortunately, I had arrived in Japan about a week after its peak season. Also, during most of my stay in Japan, the weather was quite horrible. It was rainy, foggy, and cold. However, this did not stop me from experiencing some sort of mild allergies. I don’t usually get allergies but with all the pollen from the cherry blossoms, I experienced some mild allergies for the first time in a long time. But regardless of the bad weather and allergies, I got to see my cherry blossoms.
During the bus rides, the tour guide gave us some insights into some Japanese cultures/ways of life that I never knew before and thought I should share them with you here. Disclaimer, these insights came from the tour guide and are not hard core facts. I’m just relaying what I heard and learned =]. There are also some stories from my personal experience.
- Before you enter a temple in Japan, there is usually an area to the left of the temple for you to wash your hands before entering. You wash your left hand first, then right hand.
- People in Japan, for the most part, drive small cars because the roads are very narrow. Honda and Toyota are the two most popular brands. The imperial family in Japan drives a Honda. Most people also don’t change car brands often because in Japan, when you buy a new car of the same brand as your old car, you get a discount. It’s almost like an exchange program.
- Most restaurants and eateries in Japan don’t let you do take out. They’re really serious about keeping their food fresh and keeping their reputation up to par. The tour guide mentioned that if the food isn’t fresh, people would complain. So to avoid those troubles, most restaurant and even small eateries won’t let you eat outside of their restaurant or vicinity. I had bought some snacks in a street market of sorts, and I had to eat all the foods next to their shops. The worst was when I had bought an ice cream cone and I had to eat the whole thing in one go. When you’re paying for it, they tell you beforehand that you have to eat by their shop and finish it before you go or else you can’t buy the product. You will find a whole cluster of people eating next to the shops. And if they see you walking away with their uneaten products, they usually rush after you or yell that you have to eat by the shop.
- There is a specific park in Tokyo (pictured in my previous post) that allows homeless people to sleep there. There are showers/restrooms nearby for them to freshen themselves. Every month, the government gives these people a stipend enough for food, but not enough for rent–hence, they sleep at this park. According to the tour guide, these people are mostly those who have come to Tokyo for a job, but for some reason have lost that job and are now unable to afford housing. They cannot go back to their own hometown so they are in this situation–stuck in Tokyo, with only enough money to eat but not enough for housing.
- When people are buying an apartment/house, the first thing they do is not go inside the apartment to look at the place, but to see an earthquake demo. Every real estate in Japan has these demos where buyers can see simulations of earthquakes and what happens to the building through various levels of earthquake intensities.
- There’s a subway train during the rush hour just for females, meaning only females are allowed on the train. The tour guide explained that during regular hours, if there are perverts that invade a female’s personal space (touching them and whatnot), the female can usually just move away. But during rush hour, it gets really crowded and if they get touched, they won’t be able to just move away. So this ‘females only’ train was created to give females a safe space to be in while transporting.
- The birth rates in Japan are extremely low and the government is trying to incentivize couples to have children. The Japanese government gives couples up to $500,000 yen for them to have more babies.
- I got to try some Fuji apples in Japan, bought in a small grocery store near Mt. Fuji. They were delicious but quite expensive (around $3.00 for two apples). But they were enormous and very juicy. In Japan, most people usually don’t have time to buy and prepare fruits to eat so they drink a lot of juice.
- According to the tour guide, the Japanese have three essentials of life: milk, juice, and eggs. Because they are essentials, the government hasn’t risen the prices of these items in the past 10 years.
- When you go to a hot spring in Japan, you go in naked. It was my first experience at a Japanese hot spring (I’ve been to one in China, but that one you can wear your bathing suit…and I guess it’s less authentic). The experience was an interesting one. I’ve never seen so many naked bodies in one space before, but I didn’t know anybody (besides the friend who came with me to the hot springs) so it was ok. Nobody there was embarrassed by the situation. If you see someone trying to cover up themselves, you know they are tourists (I’m guilty of this). You have to shower before entering and after exiting the hot springs. You shower sitting down in a tiny stool, with a mirror in front of you. Soap, shampoo, and conditioners are all provided, along with some scrubs if you’re interested. The hot springs we were at was inside a hotel, with both indoors and outdoors options. My friend and I tried both, but after being outdoors for awhile, we went back inside since it started to rain harder. After you shower and dry yourself, they have stations in front of a vanity, where you can take off your makeup, wash your face (face wash included), and blow dry your hair. They also provide face cream and lotions. It was quite nice. They also have a water station, so you can keep yourself hydrated. Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience (although it took me awhile to get used to being naked in front everyone).
- More trivia in the next post….STAY TUNED!
That’s it for now! Thanks for reading! I have one more post about Japan and then to Hong Kong I went!
Stay tuned <3.