Friday, November 2, 2012

Random Japan

Now that almost two weeks have passed since I arrived it's sometimes difficult to explain how every place felt like when I was there. Specially every place in Japan. The whole country as a whole made a great impression on me. Being a highly developed country I think I was expecting to find more similarities than differences, but I was wrong!
Yes, people go around using an efficient public transportation system like in (most) European cities; yes, everyone has a smartphone like in the United States; people are wealthy and it's easy to find a coffee shop/restaurant/supermarket with ease even in the smaller cities.
But then there are these small details: People bowing to say thank you/goodbye/as a sign of respect; the toilets that are the squat type or highly technological, with buttons for everything! (see pictures below); the contrast of how quiet people and the streets were with the unbearably noisy Pachinka game rooms; the way they mix cute/childish with sexy; the gadgets they have for every kind of thing; the way people respect queues and every other kind of rule. It's actually difficult to explain. It's one of those things that one has to experience to understand, at least it was how it worked for me!
But better than words are images. And here is a collection of them from all across Japan (well, the places where I've been :P)

A squat toilet. This was in a park so it was normal that I didn't find a high-tech toilet here.

But every hostel/coffee/restaurant had them. I call them plugged-in toilets!

In every temple you see people praying or just showing their respect to that specific place.

Considering that Christianism is not at all common in Japan, it's a bit weird to find signs of celebration of Halloween and Christmas. But find the two mixed... It's almost like "The Nightmare before Christmas" came to life

They have beautiful monuments, but the Golden Pavilion (in Kyoto) was the one that won my heart.

Messages of peace could be find in various parks and monuments. It seems to go well with what I've experienced of Japanese people. It's just strange to think of some parts of Japan's history.

This is Tenryu-ji (in Arashiyama) temple. Beautiful buildings, amazing gardens

Me in the Bamboo groove (Arashiyama, as well). One of the most peaceful places on earth... if you can ignore the hordes of tourists!

This image just captured my attention. It looked like it was taken from my imaginary  world of what Japan should be.

Rickshaws in the bamboo groove.

One of the many "fountains" near the shrines (temizuya). You use it to wash and  purify your body. Full explanation here.

On the trains there are a few compartments that are exclusive to women, specially during rush hour.

This is a demonstration Japanese style. 5 protesters (one with a microphone) and two cops (one in the front and other in the back)

One of the things that I loved the most in Nara were the deers. So many! And we could feed them with the crackers that we could buy everywhere.

And with so many around... we could see many nature like things happening 

These sandals are pieces of art. And they're priced accordingly (price in front of it: 100ienes=1euro)

Tons of fans. With multiple color and patterns

Vending machines are everywhere! Like EVERYWHERE!

In one shop, in Takayama, there were these incredible Alien like sculptors! I felt like taking the tables with me... too bad they wouldn't fit in my backpack!

Minimalism! :) My room when I slept in the Temple at Takayama 

This is a grave in a cemetery in Takayama. In Japan it is common to find a cemetery involved by woods. It gives a sense of serenity and  harmony that we can't find in ours

Some sake must be drank hot, but this bottles were being kept in a low temperature

After seeing the bonsais in Japan I felt more reassured that mine is not too big! :P

To protect you from the rain, everything goes. Even if you're a store mannequin without a head

In Tokyo even your umbrella is a fashion statement! Specially in neighborhoods like Harajuku!

From time to time you see "l" switched of for "r" or the other way around. I swear that in the beginning I didn't remember why!

The train system here is both highly effective and really busy, specially in big city stations like Kyoto and Tokyo. And these guys control everything on the platform using a number of signals.

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