February 28, 2015

17 Reasons Why Japan Is a Plate Full of Awesomesauce

"Da f* is that? Da f* is this? What the eff?"

Seriously, I can't count how many times I've said f* in my mind when I was in Japan, all I know is I've said it a lot of times. Well, Japan is a wonderful place---very convenient, clean, peaceful yet modern and everything that my country isn't. 

"Oh, I'm sorry. No offense." 

Truth is, you can enjoy Japan just by walking around even if you don't go to the tourist-y areas, there's something interesting anywhere. Although you should at least visit one temple or shrine and a castle. 

So I've listed some things that I found amusing while I was there. Enjoy!

1) Wander around Kyoto and Nara by riding a man-drawn rickshaw. 

I find this boring, because it would be cuter if Hello Kitty is doing it. How about Voltes V? Kidding. I didn't expect to see this in Japan because they're rich and they can buy cars. Anyway, seeing this, I wanted to laugh but then I felt bad for the runner; it looked very heavy, I wondered if he didn't mind how people stared at all. Or maybe they're just so proud of their culture that they don't feel embarrassed of what they do. I can't imagine anyone doing this for a living here in the Philippines. Because that rickshaw might be more expensive than a jeepney. 

On the other hand, the girl below hit jackpot. She’s riding a HOTTIE.
Note to self: ride a hottie on my next trip :)

2) Vending machines. Vending machines everywhere!

Vending machines are very rare here and this is one thing that baffles me about Japan. Why is there a vendo in every corner even in places where very few people pass by? Do cats or dogs use the vendos too? Or maybe someone might get lost in that area at least he can have a drink if he's thirsty. 

Arashiyama Area

Gion Area

Inside the Osaka Castle

3) The railway.

Coming from a third world country, I was so amazed and jealous of their railway system--- their major stations are so huge and sophisticated that they looked even better than NAIA! Their railway can bring you from A to B without any hassle at all...though you have to walk, climb the stairs, and ask people if you are on the right track because some stations don't have English translations. And you have to be very careful when climbing the stairs, because they have arrows! Yes, you can't just climb the stairs anywhere! (I'll tell you more about this in a separate post.)

Shin-Osaka Station

Shin-Osaka Station

4) Fancy toilets.

Arriving at the hotel, I immediately went to the bathroom to wash and the first thing that struck me was the fancy toilet bowl. I was amazed by the number of controls in the toilet (from bidet to seat warmer). Thankfully there was a manual inside (in English). I wanted to test them so I tried the bidet and a jet of water came out from the inside of the bowl. The good part is it didn't splash on my face and since the bathroom was small the water splashed all over the wall. 

Well, other toilets have more buttons.Be careful of using them. Be very careful. 

5) Old school toilets.

Japan may have the most hi-tech toilet I have seen but they also have the most traditional one: the squat toilet. You know, it's just a hole on the floor. Nevermind. Just pee and relax. This was not a problem for me because my grandparents used to have this kind of toilet and I would use it whenever the power was out. 

6) Manhole Covers.

Manhole covers in Japan have very interesting designs. Seriously, how rich are these people that even their manhole covers have designs? In my country we use plastic covers and sometimes, we just leave it without a cover. Yeah, that's how we roll! 

Well, the designs depend on what symbolizes the municipality or the manufacturer of the manhole cover---Osaka Castle for Osaka; and Deer for Nara. Some are even painted. I think Japan is obsessed with making everything look cute. 


Osaka, Namba area




7) Ramen.

I remember my first meal in Osaka was ramen and I thought it was the best ramen I had. I didn't know what kind of ramen I ordered though because the menu was in Japanese and the staff can only understand "yes" and "hot". At the back of my mind I was like "Is there a cold ramen?". Well, she was referring to ramen with chili. 

What can I say, I can stay there for seven days eating ramen. The best part is you can slurp, like all the time. "Sluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrp." Yeah, that's how long the noodles are. 

8) Funny and interesting signs.

Can anybody tell me what this means? And why is there a dog and a fox? 

Yes, I understand that they love their country so much 
that they stick with their language but how about 
the tourist spots? So where am I now? 

Labada bango! 

I guess this is just a typo error. 

9) They maybe cold but they're very polite and helpful. 

Besides being cold, they were also snobs, or so I thought. I thought of them as the most time-conscious people who won't entertain any kind of distraction. Well, I was wrong. We wouldn't have reached some places in our itinerary without their help. They'll make sure you'd get to your destination even if it means walking you there.

In our first day in Kyoto we were not sure about how to use the bus and someone approached us. He asked us in Japanese and I was like "Wuuutttt?". Thankfully we had a map and after the yes-and-no and pointing at the map, we kind of understood him. And that was the start of many "Arigatou gozaimasu" with the obligatory headbang.

Helping a tourist out.

10) Being OC.

A) Preparation and presentation of their food is one.

B) I don't know if they're being OC but they have arrows in their stairs. I think it's a good practice though, unlike what we do here where most likely you'd bump into someone and voila! Iphone lost. Hahaha! I would love to have this here, please.

C) Kyoto is a smoke-free city and they have designated areas for smoking: looks like a room but without a roof and there are bins inside. 

D) Well-maintained gardens.

Ninnaji Temple, Kyoto
Ginkakuji Temple, Kyoto

11) Kyoto city bus.

The most convenient bus E-V-E-R. Kyoto has a very excellent network of buses that will get you to major temples and world heritage sites. Same with their trains, their buses are very efficient. They arrive at the bus stop by the minute; bus schedules are posted at the bus stop (Read more for Kyoto City Bus).

12) World Heritage Sites.

Kansai region has plenty of world heritage sites. Kyoto alone has 17 and Nara has seven, I think. Wakayama also offers Mt. Koya, unfortunately I had an injury so we didn't proceed with hiking at Mt. Koya...which was sad. :(

Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto

13) Variety of cute goods/products (some of their tombstones are cute).

Need I say more? They are known for being cute. 

14) Anime.

Nipponbashi (Den Den town) is the anime paradise of Osaka---from toys to mangas to electronics (to hentai). Guys, I found the seven Dragon Balls here! Hahaha! A bit pricey though.

15) Green tea.

They have all kinds of green tea...especially in Kyoto. They have green tea Kitkat, green tea cake, mochi, candies, and cream puffs. Everything's green in Kyoto. 
"So, does this make them green minded?"

Also, most restaurants would give you green tea instead of water. If you want a glass of water, say "O-mizu onegaishimasu" in a cute voice, please. Just to make it sound more Japanese. Then they will give you a glass of very cold water even if it's 0 deg C outside. 

16) Realistic looking plastic foods.

Pretty expensive though.

17) Others.

Forever alone. You are not alone.

Japan may be one of the most advanced in the world in terms of technology, but they are wearing their traditions like a badge.

Goodnight! - donna