Around 3 weeks ago I arrived back home after traveling around Japan for 17 days. Overall the experience was incredible and included many firsts for me, for example first time traveling to a country that speaks a different language.
I traveled with my sister whom had made two trips over to Japan before (one to present a paper at a thermodynamics conference, the other for a holiday) so I was in good hands and managed to get away with only knowing a little Japanese. In fact I recall my japanese vocabulary consisted of the following words: good morning, good day, good evening, thank you, excuse me, yes, no, please, numbers (one, two, three etc…), seriously, idiot, how are you?, goodbye and me too. It’s interesting exactly how far you could get with just knowing some simple dialect and pointing to things though. At any rate most Japanese people know at least a little english and the most trouble I got into was accidentally ordering two different chicken burgers at Mc Donalds instead of one.
Over the course of the trip we traveled over a great deal of Japan, very broadly we arrived in Tokyo and traveled to Hiroshima, Onimichi, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Kawaguchico/Mt Fuji, and Tokyo once more. Each city I found was unique in it’s own way and I’d happily visit every one of them again if given the opportunity. Anyway for this post I thought I’d share a few overall impressions and observations I had during the trip that I found to be particularly noteworthy.
After first arriving in Japan the infrastructure of the cities and suburbs really surprised me. My initial expectation was that everything would be quite modern and incorporate lots of electronic smarts but in actual fact save for a few exceptions their building and transit infrastructure looked like it was all build in the 80’s and 90’s and had not been upgraded much since. It’s not that Japan doesn’t have any modern technology, Osaka for example has some very new modern consumer buildings and the Shinkansen are obviously quite modern but it was definitely my observation that these were in the minority.
From my understanding there was one a time that Japan had a reputation for having the cutting edge technology and was the place to visit for the latest gadgets and electronic goods. However visiting and looking around at the goods sold at places like Yodobashi camera in Akihabara this just isn’t the case anymore. The goods available are pretty much the same that are available back home in Australia. I think this isn’t indicative of that there is less innovation happening in Japan and Asia than before but rather that the global market has opened up a lot more through distribution and new products are offered everywhere at the same time. After all why not release a new product in 10 countries rather than just one if you can? I will say to Japan’s credit their department stores such as Yodobashi do have a lot more range all in one place compared to anything I’ve experienced back home (I suppose it’s possible when you have a 10 level store though).
Finally it was interesting to experience the difference between rural Japan and more populated city areas. This is partly why I was interested in visiting Onimichi. During the train ride to Onimichi it was immediately obvious that the station announcements were no longer repeated in english nor any of the graphics translated. It makes sense that english would be less prominent the more rural you travel and I’ve heard similar experiences by friends that have visited other countries but nether less it was interesting to experience firsthand.
Anyway I feel I’ve written enough for one post and as I start to review and edit photos (I’m about halfway through currently) I’m sure I’ll think of some other interesting things regarding Japan later. Look forward to sharing more in the future.
By the way hopeful content will start becoming a little more regular soon, for the past two/three months I’ve been having some issues with my main computer BSODing randomly which hopefully will be resolved soon. Besides this I’ve gone ahead and repaired by old macbook pro so I can start doing some writing on the train to and from during my lunch break at work. We see if it becomes habit or not.