14 January 2015

Tokyo "Did I miss the memo about an umbrella?"

...And so I arrived! I've managed to come up with a solution to my blogging woes so now I can fill you in on my exciting time so far in Japan. Sometimes it's not the big sights that we travel for, it's the slight changes in day to day life that catch our eye. Here are my observations of my first city in Japan.

Umbrellas

One of the first things I noticed was that everyone was carrying an umbrella. Not a fold up leopard print accessorize jobby, but a full length umbrella... Even the homeless. When I had checked the weather it was 20 degrees and sunny, so I certainly didn't have an umbrella.


The Vulnerable

Admittedly I arrived on a Friday, but I saw a LOT of oldies milling around the parks and the museum - the Japanese have an incredible life expectancy of well over 100... Just as well as apparently you'd need to live til 109 to try all the restaurants in Tokyo. 


I also noticed a large number of homeless people in Uedo Park. Don't let this deter you from going - they're harmless and don't beg. They don't seem high on drugs (though this may well be naivety) and were almost sweet. It was quite a surprise nonetheless as I didn't really consider the homeless in Tokyo, especially not next to a internationally applauded museum.


Vending Machines
Just like there are photo booths across Berlin, Japan has a LOT of vending machines. They don't seem to be attached to a restaurant say, they're just there on the street offering a very wide display of lurid liquids for you to slurp on.



Masks
They're available at every corner store. I believe they wear them if they've got a an illness already or if 'something is going round'. It just seems so normal here and actually it's quite comforting if they're handling your food!


Lack of Communication
There's been a problem with my SIM (truphone I'm looking at you) which  meant no contact at all with anyone back home. Wifi is like goldust round here. You won't find free wifi at caf├ęs and restaurants like you do round Europe. You must have a Japanese SIM or subscribe long term. My hotel in Tokyo had Wifi but only in the lobby and it didn't seem to work for me. It's quite a weird feeling not being able to communicate with anyone, especially in a country so alien. I really missed being able to google things. There are a few services available to patch you over.


Crossing the Road
It's illegal to cross the road when the man is red. People of all ages take this seriously. I saw one Japanese ladies get half way across then scuttle backwards in shame.




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