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Now, who would have thought that I would visit Japan before countries like India, Nepal or even some other parts of the Middle East... In fact, Japan probably wouldn't have made it to my top 10 most desired to visit countries list. Unlike so many around me that raved about the great Land of the Rising Sun, I wasn't inspired for the longest time. You'd think that Japan's goofiness should at least interest me, but it was really... peer pressure! Yes, even I myself find the reason lame but I figured it was time to witness for myself what the HYPE was all about!

After spending 10 days in Japan - covering Tokyo, Gifu, Nara, Kyoto and Osaka; I must say, it's a country you have to 'experience' for yourself. Some things exceeded my expectations while some others fell short. But you've gotta love Japan for:

1) Their impeccable service standard
We're talking about attitude with a capital 'A'.
We're talking about sincere greeting, about seriously going that extra mile and doing a 100 meters dash (literally when a cashier ran up and down 3 floors just to get the right pricing for my Banana Guard at Tokyo Hands.

2) Their warm hospitality
There are not many places I've visited (and I consider myself well traveled) that people are sincerely friendly, patient and extremely helpful. They not only point you to the right direction, they actually walk you to the location! You'd be thinking that it was a lovely incident if it happened to you once (or twice), but it must be way of life when you had the fortune to experience it numerous times.
- A kind youngster who was concerned enough to walked back in the subway to instruct us to follow the RED lines to the exit of Shubuya in Tokyo.
- A pair of sweet ladies who walked us across the street to Pontocho in Kyoto.
- Our friendly chef in Tako Tako King, who used his own data service plan on the iPhone to find us a live music pub in Osaka which plays Okinawa music!!! He was so sweet, but not really the kind of music we were thinking of...
- A driver who was stopped behind our cab while we unloaded our luggage to check-in to our Shinsaibashi Hotel. He had to wait a couple of minutes, but he was truly patient. I was in Japan for 10 days and at most I heard the car horn once. The morning back to work after I returned to Singapore, I heard 5 horns! Come on!!!

3) The butt washing toilet seats
Toilet seats that are warm in the mornings, plays music, ridiculous bombing sounds and washes your ass at the right water temperature. I ain't gonna lie, but I really miss having a clean ass. Don't know how the toilet bowl knows it, but every spray of jet is aimed nicely on the butt hole. I mean, everyone has different sized ass... how do they get it right every time?!?!

Together with the Koreans, the Japs have set a minimum standard for public toilets. I can only wonder what is to come in the next lap of toilet ingenuity.

4) Quirky Gadgets you must have!
Japan - the land of the weird, but in a strange way... their creations are kinda useful...

There were numerous lifestyle stores such as Tokyo Hands, Loft and AIC that I simply adore. Different levels ranging from electronics, kitchen, bedding & bath, furniture and stationaries of quirky and interesting stuff. Fred Stuff are widely popular and I picked up so many items on my wish-list. So much so that Dennis had to whack my head for piling up the shopping basket in AIC. I was such a happy shopper.

6) Food
Having walked at least a hundred streets in Japan, it was very evident that international cuisines were welcomed. It wasn't hard to find Italian, Western, Chinese or even a Turkish ice-cream man! American cultured McDonalds (which had McPork!), Starbucks Coffee and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts had strong following. This sprouted to numerous fusion typed food outlets.

The Japs are particular about quality, freshness and presentation of their food. According to Thomas (our guide), most food served and bottled in the supermarket are usually made out of natural ingredients. If it wasn't, it would be stated. Not that I could read a single word of Japanese to realize that!

We loved the season ice-cream, which came in the texture of Softy. The flavors depended largely on the season; and during our visit, they were serving Grape, Peach, Honeydew Melon and I suppose Green Tea Matcha is an all year favorite.

And who wouldn't love all those vending machines! There is one at every corner with a ratio of about one vending machine for every twenty-three people. Unfortunately, most vending machines we saw sold can drinks or cigarettes. What happened to those dispensing bottles of liquor, fried food, underwear, iPods, porn magazines, sexual lubricants, live lobsters, fresh meat, eggs and potted plants?!?!

5) Their transport network
Traveling around Japan is expensive but very fast. Cabs are a real luxury and should not be taken unless really necessary. For that reason, Japan had developed a complex subway and bus network that gets you anywhere. As commented by Cin, if you can understand how to travel in Japan's subway, you can survive traveling anywhere in the world.

I love how dummy proof the subways are. If you're suppose to travel on the Green line, everything from the benches, to the pillars, to the railings, to the TRAINS are GREEN! And if you're on the brown line... guess what... everything is BROWN!

You'd be quite surprise with so many people on the trains, the cabins are unusually peaceful! Not sure if it is a law or that Japanese just feel that it is polite to communicate through SMS. Folks traveling in the suburb trains talk, but not in the major cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

6) That ridiculous PEACE sign!
Peace Out \ /

Love Japan for...
Pontochō: Where Geishas used to roam
Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) Floating Garden
Tully's Coffee Japan - Bean There
Fugu - The Forbidden Fish
Panoramic Japan 2010
HDR Japan 2010
Footprints in Japan


  1. to put it..although "Japanese" is a mouthful i wouldn't use "Japs"..i was told by my ex-colleague that it's a derogatory term when i said it :"3

  2. but glad u went there before me! cos i get to read great travel experiences n see nice scenery pics of Japan, thanks nya, u go there again? ohoh, if u could..for the fun of it, will u go for the sakura season? wanna read about it n see pics of it from u if u do X3

  3. For the fun of it... LOL!!! If I printed loads of money, I would go anywhere I desired for fun! Unfortunately I don't and Japan is hell of an expensive. Did I mention that I was 6 yen rich when I returned to SG! I was B-R-O-K-E!

    Oh, but I really don't mind to visit Hokkaido... just for the fun of it...


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