Writing has eluded me – evident by the 2 month hiatus since my travels to Japan. What hasn’t though, is the itch to return to such a stunning, intriguing, and welcoming country.
The colleagues and friends I travelled with were as eager as me to experience everything the country has to offer. From the moment we stepped off the plane in Osaka we were smitten with everything we saw, smelled, touched, tasted, and heard. It is most definitely an affair I hope to rekindle, both at home and abroad.There were several memorable moments on our trip including hickeys from deer, being “found” as a model, consuming endless delectable morsels of Japanese delicacies, ogling impressive yet simple ancient temples, colourful shrines and immaculate gardens, meeting up with a wonderful former student and her boyfriend, unexpected fall festivals, uniformed men in walls, and relishing in both the bustle & the silence of our new surroundings.
A few observations from my visit:
- The shampoo (or water?) is Ah-Maze-Ing. Our hair was so silky the whole time, I felt like I was in a Pantene commercial.
- Clothes hanging on balconies make me smile. I was smiling a lot.
- Keeping with the hair theme, there were “Cut and Perm” places everywhere…yet everyone styles their hair straight!
- Sushi train restaurants have self-serve green tea faucets at your seat. So smart. So yum.
- Osaka, unlike many big cities I’ve visited or lived in, doesn’t smell like urine. In fact, it smells delicious and so I was constantly hungry.
- Everyone is so stylish! Holy macaroni. Vogue, everywhere. Clothes are beautiful, simple, and chic. The Japanese are so effortless in their style, and I just want to osmosis from them all of their fashion sense.
- People stared more than in Korea. A lot more. Let me add to this by saying that before I moved to a remote part of a Korean island, many friends (travelled and not) gave me the heads up that as a gigantor white female, people would stare and probably take pictures (of or with me). This did not happen in Korea. It definitely did in Japan. My favourite memory of this was making friends with a middle-aged group of men and women walking past me down a busy street in Osaka’s Dotonbori district. Upon spotting me, one of the (short) women gasped and pointed at me making sounds and continued even after I saw her. I found it hilarious and waved and laughed back, which then led to the rest of the group (who by now had also spotted Godzillina among them) to gasp and point. We went on laughing and waving for a while before they continued on their way.
- There are Women Only train cars.
- People don’t speak on trains. Only obnoxious foreigners and the odd teenager make noise. Trains are serene modes of transportation to get lost in your thoughts, a book, or the views passing by.
- Backpacks (fashionable ones of course) are a thing. Toronto, I’m sorry, but I saw it in Japan first. Stop copycatting.
- You can order food – tasty healthy food – from an automated machine in a restaurant. The food is then served through a hatch door while sitting in a narrow low-lit private room with bar stools facing a wall. The experience will be superbly enjoyable and you will want to repeat it many times.
- I want to go back. Did I mention that already?