Observations and Impressions
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
17Trip End Apr 25, 2012
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* School children-- all sizes -- in their uniforms. We especially enjoyed seeing the little ones with their little caps and book bags.
* Unchaperoned groups of children navigating their field trips through even big cities like Kyoto.
* Very young children independently walking or riding their bikes to and from school.
* Seeing middle school and high school children ride long distances between home and school, and being very late getting home from school
* In Kyoto, a mother taking her two daughters to school on her bike. The girls are about 4-5 years old and wearing navy school uniforms complete with little Madeleine-style hats.
* Dogs in strollers.
* A sheltie carefully guiding her elderly mistress across a wide boulevard in Hiroshima. It would look back to check on her after every few steps.
* A woman washing her dog's paws in a small plastic bowl just outside her door.
* Beautiful, beautiful babies!
* Surprisingly wide variety of cuisine. Bento box lunches. Loved the miso soup for breakfast. Discovered many dishes and flavors we want to try at home.
* Vending machines everywhere! Drinks only in the smaller towns, but hot and cold food, even ties and shirts on offer in Tokyo
* Great public transportation. Loved those bullet trains!
* Tiny boxy cars and vans. Teeny tiny parking places.
* Lots of Toyotas, Subarus, Hondas, and Suzukis, but different models than we have in the U.S.
* Yellow and white car tags. The white tag cars have less powerful engines, are cheaper to buy, operate, and insure but more dangerous in an accident.
* Very limited wi-fi access, which surprised us because we thought of Japan as such a high-tech society.
* Most signage had no script we could recognize. Even when we saw Roman lettering, we had difficulty because the long words created were so strange that we had nothing to which we could connect them. A personal example of linguistic and experiential learning theory!
* Japanese people really savoring the beautiful cherry trees. Picnicking under the blossoms, strolling through the parks, taking lots of pictures.
* The wide variety of toilets -- from squatters to those offering heat, automatic flushing noises to mask the sound of urination, two kinds of shower, and "powerful deodorant".
* Special slippers solely for use in the toilet.
* Love hotels and snack bars. Snacks are not for eating. They are male-only establishments where men go for female companionship. It's not prostitution, just an opportunity to buy drinks and sit and talk with a woman.
* Sidewalks with raised tile insets for guiding the blind and one side clearly designated for bicycles. Pleasant chiming sounds to indicate when you could walk across the street.
* Seeming half the populatio wearing paper face masks. We saw one guy refuse to take off his mask to have his photo made. Susan saw a baby lying on her mom's shoulder, her mask pulled down so she could suck on two fingers.
* Cuteness everywhere -- Hello Kitty accessories, cell phone danglers, young women dressed in frilly little girl dresses.
* Split toe socks and elevated thong shoes
* Older ladies wearing hats and cotton gloves to protect their skin.
* Everyone seemed to be carrying a tote or shopping bag.
* Bicycles with stands for holding umbrellas.
* Most people on the subways and trains were reading small paperback "light novels" in cloth covers. One of Brent's students gave us each a hand-sewn book cover. Love to use it, but it is an odd size and designed to be used from back to front!
* Small cemetaries scattered around the countryside and in urban neighborhoods.
* Small gardens in even the tiniest places. Beautifully sculpted trees and arrangements of rocks and greenery. The Japanese are amazing gardeners!