10 things that are different about Japan

(I would say weird, but I’m trying to be a “traveler,” not a “tourist,” which according to my literature teacher who is Spanish and really shouldn’t be teaching a literature class in English – but that is a story for another day – are two very different things)  

Side note - I am planning on writing a more detailed post about all of the things that I’ve been doing, but for now I’m just going to do this. It’s my last night in Japan, and ten of us are staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in Kyoto.  It’s amazing; I just took the best bath of my entire life. More on that later. OK:

 1. Heated toilet seats. And toilets that do all kinds of different things and squirt water in many directions

 2. Desserts. They like beans. A lot. And they’re sweet. And mochi (I LOVE MOCHI). And chocolate is sometimes hard to come by (but I still manage to eat approximately 3 Kit-Kats a day)

 3. They eat with chopsticks. That’s a pretty obvious one. Just thought I’d jog your memory in case you’ve been living under a rock.

 4.  Dancing is illegal after midnight. This is not a joke – I talked at length to a promoter in Tokyo about this. All clubs have to have restaurant licenses, and sometimes their bar tenders have to be certified dance instructors. And no, this law is not actually abided by; I broke it. (Reason, though, in case you’re curious: dancing is associated with prostitution. And also if something actually bad – like a drug deal or bar fight – goes down at the clerb, they can just shut it down on account of “people dancing” and not report the dirty stuff to the po po)

 5.  People here are incredibly respectful, honorable, and kind. Even though most people don’t speak English, they always find some way to help out and make everything ok. Today, our taxi driver – who spoke zero English - drove all the way back to the restaurant she had dropped us off at 20 minutes earlier to bring us an umbrella we had accidentally left in the back seat. This would not happen anywhere else in the world.  

 6. Japan is designed for people who are much shorter than me. I have a serious bump on the top of my head from walking into a doorway.

 7. The Japanese can do literally anything with technology. And they often do things one would never even think to do until they see it and recognize its genius. E.g they make mechanical pencils that slowly rotate so that your lead never ever gets dull.

 8. They have a karmic umbrella sharing system. I.e they just hand you an umbrella if you don’t have one and you pass it on to the next person who needs one. Idk, maybe I’ve just been stealing people’s umbrellas, but I’m pretty sure that’s how that works.

 9.  They package things meticulously. Artfully, even. Like you buy something and they put it in a little paper bag that they then put it in a slightly bigger plastic bag that it fits perfectly inside and then they tape it shut. Or you buy something that looks like one normal sized Kit-Kat bar and it turns out to be three little mini ones nestled inside the normal-sized package. “Like Russian dolls,” says my friend named Mary, who I’m sure I’ll be writing about throughout the semester. Accurate.

 10. Their mattresses are harder. Possibly more comfortable that way; still haven’t fully decided.

Ok, that’s all for now. JAPAN IS AWESOME!! It has exceeded my highest expectations, which were pretty high.