Japan. The land of the rising sun and such a peaceful place of immense beauty……..
Japan has a rich history and a culture which has formed over thousands of years yet the traditional and a modern Japan fit so elegantly together. This beautiful land has a tranquil air of mystery to it and it appears to be a place where you could find yourself as a respectful outsider looking in on such loveliness.
The people of Japan are hardworking yet delightfully courteous. They have odd little mannerisms, they are welcoming and at times a little quirky, they have a quiet sense of composed beauty and their genteel politeness is utterly charming. It seems too that good manners are paramount and these manners are taught at a very young age. It makes for sweet yet respectfully dear children and who doesn’t appreciate that.
Traditional to hipster, this is modern Japan…….
Throughout Japan, and due much in part to Shintoism and the adopted Buddhism, there are thousands of beautiful public shrines and temples which you can respectfully wander through. It is a very peaceful experience and at one temple midweek, we were so fortunate to witness the beauty of a hushed Shinto wedding ceremony.
Japan has a troubled war history and due in part to this, they have denounced all military aggression for which I salute them. As most reader know, I struggle with war. Those bitter, unbearable and horrific conflicts where no one ever wins! Japan was decimated after WWII – see previous post of Pearl Harbour – yet somehow, it rose from atomic ash to become one of the biggest economies in the world and one of the most beautiful places on earth.
There is war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say there isn’t…………Leonard Cohen
This is also the country of 6 million vending machines offering anything from ice cream, hamburgers, floral arrangements, hot ‘frozen dinners’, deep fried hot chips……how do they do it! to fresh eggs and hot coffee in a can. Ubiquitously Japanese, your can of coffee will come out steaming hot and tasting of caffeine and your ice-cream will be frozen to perfection. You can buy almost anything out of these machines including undies and they are incredibly convenient as they are situated everywhere. I am in no doubt to the world having vending machine envy.
Somehow, I think one could very happily live in Japan, if only for a year, yet barely scratch the surface of this enchanting land.
The rail system in Japan is brilliant. It really is a great way to get around and in itself, it is a tourist attraction. Think the ‘Mag-Lev High Speed Bullet Train’ which has a maximum operating speed of 320 km/h and which reached 603 km/h in testing.
Image courtesy – indulgy.com
The commuter rail system is slick, fast and very clean. It can be slightly complex to navigate at first, which is half the fun, but there is always someone willing to help you out. In our case, an elderly gentleman helped navigated us through the underground network of tunnels and twist and turns to walk us right to our platform. Not only was he delightful company for this brief encounter, but his gesture was also very kind.
And the trains are punctual! I would recommend purchasing the unlimited rail card as train travel really is, apart from walking, one of the best way to get around.
You will eat well in Japan and often only for a few yen at noodle bars or Yakitori’s. And who doesn’t love a noodle bar. We tended toward the smaller bars with their dark spaces and narrow benches which faced the kitchen to look upon the huge steaming pots of broth and noodles. And do slurp your noodles as it will not only enhance their delicate flavor but in Japan, this is also the correct and most polite way to eat them.
Another food tradition are the Bento boxes. You can travel like a Ninja as these boxes were initially designed to eat whilst in a nomadic state. It is quite an appealing way to eat although I suspect if travelling on the bullet train, you may not have much time to truly savor one.
Something quite lovely to try while in Japan are Rakugan. These are sweets, not too sweet, that have been hand shaped into animals and flowers and objects of beauty. Some of them really are works of art and I often found them just too lovely to eat. Naturally, they come beautifully packaged – as is everything in Japan – and they are often served at traditional tea ceremonies. The thing with the Japanese is that it is all about the aesthetically pleasing aspect of presentation. The attention to detail, the precision and the art of giving with love and joy appear paramount from the presentation of a simple tiny Rakugan to the most expensive and elaborate of gifts.
‘The Princess and the Pee!’……. aka, my fascination with Japanese toilets! What can I say. The lav’s in Japan are everything I had heard and dreamed them to be. Elaborate, modern, high tech, sophisticated, sensory, heated seats, melodic – they really do play music to camouflage any ‘noise’ – and they make for very happy travellers. Give me a futon and a Japanese toilet and I’m a happy girl…….. 🙂
Japan Part II coming soon………..xx
9 thoughts on “A little yen for Japan…….”
Truly picturesque description of your experiences. Thank you for sharing your images and recommendations. There are volumes of history and deep spiritual awareness written into their heritage.
I’ll certainly offer your sharings with my daughter and partner who are leaving soon to travel this special land. I have Japan on my bucket list so hope to have a lengthy visit one day.
I especially liked seeing Spike enjoying his dinner and Asahi combo. Slurping, I’m sure…
You have a new fan
Hello Glen and thank you for your great comment. It is much appreciated and I am so glad you enjoyed the post on Japan.
I have no doubt your partner and daughter will have a wonderful time. Japan is such a beautiful country and we barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. You may even have to move Japan to the top of your bucket list 🙂
Steve is certainly a food lover. He has turned into, over the years, quite a gastronome so while in Japan his great appreciation for food (and sake) was well catered for. I will write of our trip to the fish markets too over the coming weeks and I hope the girls make it there. It is an incredible place to visit. Take care, hope your girls have an amazing time……x
You’ve fired up my memory bank! I adored Japan even though I saw only part of it, Osaka and Kyoto and surrounds, and would go back in a heart beat. The old city of Kyoto and the peace and tranquility that surrounds you in this beautiful city has the ability to calm your soul. The pagodas, the palaces and the gardens are also so peaceful, one could spend all their time soaking up the calm …. and the bamboo forest that sings as the breeze plays through the tall bamboo fronds. …. and those delicate sweets that accompany the serene tea ceremony. Not to mention, as you said, the magic of all those vending machines that supply you with food and drink items that you would neve imagine could be so tasty. Too much to mention everything I loved about Japan, but the beautiful and young deer that wander about in their park are so gorgeous and the people so polite.
I haven’t even scratched the surface of all that there is to wonder at in this country, but thank you for saying it all so well. xoxxo (and yes … the japanese toilets are
sorry …. don’t know what happened there … just to finish off…. those japanese toilets are quaint, quirky and something else again – unless of course you happen across the old style squat type…. then your leg muscles do get a workout!)
Thanks for the delightful return to Japan for me … xoxo
Thank you for such a lovely comment. Japan will never disappoint a traveller. If anything, I think it would exceed most expectations and it does, even in the busiest of cities, instill a wonder and fascination of this land.
And I don’t think you can ever be more than 10 feet away from a vending machine as they are everywhere. Even in the quaintest and most deserted of streets in a tiny town there will be a machine humming away 🙂
I am so glad this post bought back such lovely memories. I also enjoyed re-visiting as I wrote this. There are sometimes just little things which you remember most fondly over the ‘big stuff’ in life. Have a beautiful week……x
Thank you ocean girl. This is what I tune in for. Your words, your stories and your descriptive writing. It is lovely to take some time, sit back with a cuppa and get lost in your narrative. It’s like reading a letter from an old and dear friend. Regards, Vivian.
Thank you Vivian. What a beautiful and inspiring compliment. Have a lovely week x
Think I have a yen for Japan now too. What an amazing place ☺☺
So very glad Astrid and thank you for your great comment x