Sunday, April 17, 2016

Big in Japan (04.03.2016 - 28.03.2016)

So of course we spent some time on the main island of Honshu before and after visiting Hokkaido.

Especially in Tokyo, strollin through the Shinjuku and Shibu district. Visiting the metropolitan building for a look from above, wandering through the busiest cross road in the world, play in some video game arcades but skipping the even louder slot machine and Pachinko halls.
Nobou gave us a grand tour starting in the fish market district in the morning and ending the day in the country side for an amazing dinner.

Afterwards we travelled south to Hiroshima by bullet train. This takes only 4.5h for the whole 675 km distance (about Zürich to Berlin). Here we visited the museum of the bomb site, quite a gloomy and horrific exposition. The devastation has been ultimate… Also we visited the Itsukushima island with its free roaming deer and famous great torii. But here already the tourist masses where getting bigger.
Although not as big as in Kyoto, our next destination after a brief stop in Kobe to eat some Kobe beef ^^. Kyoto got mostly spared by the WW2 bombings and has a lot of old buildings, temples and shrines to show. This together with the starting cherry blossom season made it packed with tourists. After Hokkaido where we were more or less by our own this was a bit of a shock. Later we headed back up to Tokyo for some last days before flying home :(

Having a stroll through the bamboo forest
But let me summarize the highlights of this country:

The food: For most of the world Japanese food equals to sushi. How wrong! In hindsight it felt we spent most of our time travelling from restaurant to restaurant! We had awesome ramen, delicious Teriyaki, expensive Kobe, crazy Yakiniku, famous Okonomiyaki, Mongolian grill, Japanese curry, a classic and traditional meal in a little hut placed in a wonderful garden (BIG thanks to Nobou again!) and of course crazy kaiten sushi (sushi on conveyer belt, with an extra express belt for side orders and a third for clean up. The place also had a beer pouring automaton ^^).

The transportation system: Coming from Switzerland not much in terms of public transport amazes us, except Japan! Tokyo looks like its just metro and subway tunnels and the rest of the country is criss crossed with Shinkansen lines! For example there is a bullet train between Osaka and Tokyo every 15 minutes! The tramways in Zürich barely have that frequency… O_o
And of course the Kei cars! OMFG we so need those in Switzerland. Tiny cars for a dense area is like a super logical conclusion. But back home everyone wants an SUV :(

The people: Incredible how friendly, polite and helpful the Japanese are, even tough most don’t speak any other language. The formality and politeness trumps everything we’ve encountered so far. You didn’t have to be on the lookout all the time for your stuff or any thugs trying to cheat you. I truly felt more secure than back home in Switzerland! It was so refreshing and different to previous trips! 

Truly looking forward to the next visit!