First impressions of Japan

3 Jun

I’m fresh from the 11-hour airplane ride and still full of memories from crazy, exciting, hyperactive and colorful Japan. I only spent nine days in Tokyo but got to traipse around from malls to shrines to chill cafes. Here are some of my first (and lasting) impressions from the largest city in the world:

#1: So. Many. People!

I live in Nashville, TN, with about a million other people. Over 36 million people live in greater Tokyo! That’s 30% of the entire population of Japan. It’s not uncommon to wait to cross a street with 50 other people. The first word I learned was sumimasen, which roughly translates “excuse me,” because it’s impossible to go a day without bumping into someone. I personally enjoyed the masses of humanity, but if you get overwhelmed, there’s always the option of ducking into a capsule hotel.

#2: (Endless) tall buildings

One night we went to the top of the Metropolitan Government Office to survey Tokyo. I simply could not get over the massive size of, well, everything! As far as I could see in every direction there were skyscrapers and lights. Tokyo is home to the tallest tower in the world, after all, yet to me, the Skytree was just another reason to never stop looking up.

View of the Skytree from Asakusa, Tokyo

#3: Crazy fashion

In Nashville the current fashion is hipster. Mainly, caring about how you look while pretending you don’t.  I don’t think the average Tokyo-ite would want anyone to think they didn’t put care into their outfit. After all, they live in the birthplace of cosplay. Short skirts, sky-high wedges (with socks!), tattoo tights…I didn’t blink twice when I saw what this girl was wearing. No one can say Tokyo isn’t interesting!

#4: 98% Japanese population

“Duh,” you’ll say. “Of course they’re Japanese. It’s Japan!” And yes, I’ll admit most countries have more natives than foreigners, but Japan seemed to more so. Not many Japanese leave their country for good, and being an island, it’s not particularly easy to get to. Especially compared with my life in the melting pot of America, it was different for me to experience the relative homogeneousness of Japan.

#5: Consistently great food

You didn’t think I would leave this one out, did you? Mmm. I’ll admit, I didn’t really know what Japanese food was before I visited Tokyo. All my knowledge came from Hibachi grills and sushi rolls. What I learned was, first, Japanese food is nothing like (American) Chinese food, which I had naively assumed. Second, ramen noodle soup and supermarket sushi rolls in the U.S. are absolutely dismal compared to their legitimate counterparts. Third, Japanese are all about eating fresh, so even if your meat isn’t totally raw, it’s juicy and tender. Food is one area where I was definitely glad for Japan’s “one-up” culture!

Sorry to leave you drooling, but you’ll have to wait til next time to read about all the Japanese delicacies I ate. Jet lag calls…sayonara, y’all!

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3 Responses to “First impressions of Japan”

  1. Lagos June 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    I love the sky tree please tell me you toured the place.

    • cabergthold June 4, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      No 😦 Since it just opened when I got there, there was some kind of ticket lottery you had to win in order to go!

      • Lagos June 4, 2012 at 7:13 am #

        That is horrible, you could always exercise your right to public space.

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