My Incredibly Weird Japanese Vacation
Its become a somewhat of a tradition of mine: each new year, I pack my bags and dash off to a distant country that i have never been to before. This year, I visited Japan and let me tell you - there is nothing weirder than this amazing east Asian country.
This trip would not have happened if not for my dearest hubpages colleagues who were kind enough to tell me how to get a visa to visit Japan. With their help and 5 business days later, i was the lucky holder of Japanese tourist visa and non-stop tickets to Tokyo.
Tokyo, with its endless skyscrapers and an equally endless queue to see the emperor was clearly in the festive mood. Aparently, New year celebrations in Japan are taken very seriously on every level. Many corporate offices shut down for several days in addition to a proliferation of vacation requests for this time of year. All of this resulted in huge crowds EVERYWHERE - Crowds on the street, crowds in the temples, crowds outside the temples waiting to get in. Thankfully, crowds were not the defining feature of Tokyo.
And here is the famous crosswalk that connects SEVEN different streets. My camera lens could only fit two, sorry.
This is the actual size of tuna. I had no idea it was so large. I was told that these are actually pretty small.
For a country with a constant overpopulation problem and land avaialbility crisis, Japan is rich in parks and grounds, cemeteries. They turn gardening into a form of art.
For example, trees are planted so that the green conifers coexist with deciduous trees that have thrown off the leaves for the season. Nearby the mountain ash tree stands surrounded by red berry bushes. All together this creates an amazing combination of winter garden. Each tree is taken care of, each bush is cleaned of garbage, dried branches, dirt and all unnecessary things, so that the gardens and parks look magical even in winter.
And of course, there were old temples, old castles, not so old castles, old city quarters.
Honestly, I did not want to take pictures in the cold, and I was not ready for it: after living in a warm climate for three years, I did not take camera-friendly gloves with me, in which you can easily press the shutter button. In addition, the weather was often cloudy, with annoying mist of a rain.
In Osaka, during my stay it even snowed a little, well it was more like 30 individual snow flakes descended on the city for 5 minutes. I would not have noticed it, but it caused such a stir that everyone freaked out and showed each other these snowflakes. Apparently, snow is a rare phenomenon for Osaka.
On the whole, Japan is a country with all the conveniences of modern day live. Its easy to get arround because there are signs everywhere you go. There are vending machines for literally everything, the Japanese are obsessed with these.
One thing that surprised me is the absence of excessive garbage on the streets. You would think that the city of millions of people would generate an ungodly amount of trash, but they manage it pretty well.
Another thing that amazed me is how close everything is. In US, it is not uncommon to drive for several miles to your supermarket. In Japan, literally everything is within 50 meters from you - food, coffee, shopping.