Japan. It’s been 3 weeks since we came back, but we still miss it. We miss the taste of its sushi, we miss that ritual when you sit down, put some matcha in your cup, pour hot water over it and wait for the best nigiri in the world. We miss onigiri sandwiches eaten on the go, we miss Shinkansed and Japan’s streets. We miss matcha latte available at every corner and we miss the best ramen ever. At least 3 Japanese posts are ahead of us. Today I present you one of my favorite ones: interesting and/or strange stuff, things you will remember forever, things that will surprise you or things that you will love.
1) DRINKS MACHINES ARE EVERYWHERE – WITH HOT AND COLD BEVERAGES
Everywhere. At metro stations, train stations, by shopping malls – always. Also, by parking lots, by apartment buildings, and sometimes in places that you feel nobody ever goes to. You will always find a drinks machine. The choice is pretty big – water, sodas, various kinds of tea. Its biggest advantage? In one drinks machine, there are usually both warm (marked red) and cold (marked blue) beverages.
2) THERE ARE DEFINITELY FEWER TRASHCANS 🙂
As opposed to drinks machines, there are almost no trashcans. The Japanese don’t need them, because they don’t throw stuff on the street. If you produce some garbage and you’re not at home, work or a restaurant, you take it with you. Sometimes trashcans can be spotted by drinks machines, but it doesn’t happen always. Sometimes we would carry some trash with us for half a day 😉
3) WATER TAPS ARE AT THE TABLES IN SUSHI BARS AND YOU MAKE TEA YOURSELF
While eating sushi in Japan, you drink as much as you want. In most bars, there are hot water taps, cups and boxes with Japanese matcha green tea at the tables. You take some matcha, pour water over it and drink as much as you like. It’s very comfortable! I can’t wait for someone to do it in Poland 🙂
4) THERE ARE CARS OF SUBWAY TRAINS DEDICATED JUST FOR WOMEN
Many things have been said about Japanese tube. They say there are people who push passengers inside the crowded cars of subway trains, or that women (especially youn girls) are often harassed because violators feel unpunished in crowd. We didn’t experience anything bad in Tokyo’s subway, but we only used it in the morning. We got inside the cars easily, sometimes we even managed to to find some free seats. But sometimes, we could see signs like the one above: “WOMEN ONLY”. Such cars of subway trains were meant for women only between 7:30 and 9 AM.
5) MATCHA IS EVERYWHERE!
I already told you about it – in Japan, matcha is everywhere. Check out this post! You can drink it, it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s in ice cream, desserts, cookies, street food. It’s everywhere. You need to befriend it!
6) PLASTIC FOOD IS EVERYWHERE TOO!
What can you see in the pictures? 🙂 They’re all fake, plastic dishes you can see outside of almost every restaurant, brasserie or pastry shop in Japan. It’s not about showing you what unusual, unknown dishes look like. There are plastic udons, ramens, sushi, croissants, beer, beverages. It looks pretty unreal. In Asakusa in Tokyo you can find shops where such fake dishes are sold or made for you.
7) JAPANESE PEOPLE LOVE THEIR INSTANT SOUPS SO MUCH THAT THEY HAVE THEIR OWN MUSEUMS
If you go to Family Mart or 7 Eleven in Japan, you will see tons of Cup Noodles. They’re everywhere and they very in taste and looks. Ramen, soba, soups, noodles. It’s no surprise that instant soups were “born” in Japan in the 50’s. In Yokohama you can even go to Cup Noodles Museum, find out about instant soups’ history and make your own. And in Osaca, you will find The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum 🙂
8) NO ONE WILL BE SURPRISED THAT YOU’RE IN LINE TO EAT AT RESTAURANTS OR… SHABBY BARS
Does anybody ever stand in line to eat at some restaurants in Warsaw? We don’t. We usually book a table or decide to go somewhere else. In Japan, standing in line to get your ramen or sushi is normal. Everybody does it. By train station in Tokyo, you will find Ramen Street, a perfect sreet for foodies, and a long line to a shabby bar. Locals and tourists stand in line in Kyoto to eat great sushi at Chorijo and in Shinjuku it feels like somebody is standing behind you and counting how many spoons of soup are left in your bowl for them to let new clients in. In Japan, we got used to standing in lines for lunch or dinner so much, that ever 40-50 minutes of waiting with two kids wasn’t a big deal.
9) TOILETS IN JAPAN HAVE THEIR OWN CONTROL PANELS
The most entertaining thing for big and small boys – cosmic Japanese toilets. Almost each one of them has its own control panel. You can warm up your toilet seat, wash your privates, turn on some music, so that nobody can hear what you do. Watch out, though! Don’t show it to your kids cause they may get as excited as Maks 🙂
10) EVEN TOILETS ARE MOTHER- AND CHILD-FRIENDLY!
As a mother with a coala, I feel in love with Japanese solution that allows a woman with a child to use the toilet without asking some strangers to take care of her child. You will find small chairs in many bathroom stalls, where you can leave your child and control it while doing your thing. I think it’s because a lot of Japanese women move around with kids, but without a man to help them. I’ve seen tons of women with a kid in baby slings AND another one in a stroller! I got used to these chairs and I wish they existed in Poland. PS. They have those on trains too 🙂
11) YOU CAN EAT SUSHI WITH FRENCH FRIES!
If you read our post about Japanese sushi, you already know that! 🙂 I still remember “a Chinese restaurant” in Końskie, where you could order “Chinese food” with french fries in 2001 😉 Meanwhile, maki and nigiri are served with french fries in Japan! For kids! As you can see, they love french fries everywhere 🙂
12) AUTOMATION EVERYWHERE
Many things done by people in Poland are done by machines in Japan. Restaurants/bars where you put coins in some machine outside of the building and order your food are a classic. Just like sushi bars, where you order on your tablet and then the staff tell you how much you need to pay thanks to a special device.
13) TRY SMOKING A CIGARETTE IN THE STREET AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
You can’t smoke in the streets. If you forget or pretend you don’t know it, you may be as surprised as Łukasz was. Łukasz smoked outside of a bar once – a few seconds later, a policeman came out of nowhere and gave him an ashtray. There’s no other choice – you give him your cigarette! 🙂 If you’re a smoker, you will experience a whole new life in Japan 😉
What surprised you the most? What will you always remember? 🙂