Hello Japan, I'm Home!
It took the airplane 14 hours to reach Tokyo. It took me 30 years to reach Japan.
Japan is a small country, inhabited by 130 million people (or so). Rush hour at Tokyo station could be frightening for a visitor, let's say like myself, who was walking - carrying his bogu and shinais - just in the opposite direction of that wall of people moving against me, however, to my surprise, nobody bounced on me or, on each other.
Tokyo is a big city where everybody moves fast yet, there is no screams, no fights, no pushing. Politeness is everywhere. Customer service is just beyond believe and everything is observed to the utmost detail.
Nobody bends the bank notes and they look just like new. After paying for what you have purchased, the change is counted, first the bank notes, being given to you with both hands, and then the coins and the receipt, along with a cordial bow, thanking you for the purchase.
The train stations look pristine, spotless, and the floor shines. There is no litter to be found on the floor, but the curious thing is the fact that there is no trash cans to be found either, just very few but, people has enough education to keep the litter with themselves until finding a place to properly dispose that garbage. Also, there is no senseless chatting over the cell phone while on board of the train, so much different than here in Canada, where cell phones could turn into something extremely annoying while travelling..... is that much you have to say?, is that such emergency?
Trains like the Shinkansen (bullet train), or other lines (like the Narita express) have vendors on board, where you can buy coffee or a sandwich but, they provide a small transparent garbage bag that will be collected later on.
I bought a card called Suica, a very convenient way to travel via rail. The card operates by radio frequency, and you just load money into it. Then, all you do is to touch the sensor of the accessing gates to the station, and you are in. When you exit the station, at the end of your trip, you do that again and voila, the appropriate fare is deducted from the card.
Needless to say, the punctuality of train services are measured by the second.
Taxis are also spotless, wearing those white knitted skirts to cover the seats. Taxi drivers are super polite and also very knowledgeable of the city. It is very unlikely they will take you for a "tour around the city" if you are just asking to go to a place that is 12 blocks away. Receipts for the trip are printed immediately upon request, right off the meter.
The door is opened and closed by the driver, who operates the door from his sit.
Can I take the toilette home?
Toilets deserve a special chapter on this story. Not only found in hotels, but also in many public places, these beauties of modern technology help users to stay clean no matter what.
The sit is heated, and after you are done, the same device washes your privacy, making you feel pampered like a baby!
Food in Japan can be found anywhere, not only Japanese delicacies but also sandwiches, pastries, hot and cold drinks, you name it.
Japan has a fame of being a very expensive country, however, depending where you go, you can eat better, more abundant, and even cheaper than here in Canada.
But Crime also Exists.....
Well, paradise was removed from earth some few hundred of thousands of years ago so, yes, there is crime and poverty in Japan but, it is somehow blended with the scenery. I have spotted homeless people around the Emperor's Gardens, I have seen some Geisha around Ginza, on the company of some men of dubious quality, and also some Yakuza around Shinjuku but, dressing impeccable Armani suits. I was not molested at any time and obviously, I did nothing to get unnecessary attention either.
More about Japan, and possibly some pictures, later on, so stay tuned