In brief: beautiful, poised and playful. While wandering miles throughout Shimizu, with Mt. Fuji making appearances as the clouds passed, a man approached us and asked if he could walk with us on his way home. He explained that he wished to practice speaking English. We obliged and learned that he was a mechanic, had only left Japan once in his life (honeymoon in Thailand 20 years ago) and his son is in college.
The kiddos were incredibly friendly. Everywhere we ventured, they enthusiastically waved from buses and sidewalks. Return waves were eagerly accepted.
Everything in Japan makes sense. The way things are executed is incredibly considerate and practical. It makes me want to take America by the shoulders and shake her until she takes notice. For example, we learned that trash is burned and converted to the material that is used to pave the roads. While on the topic of refuse, we noticed that garbage cans were non-existent. People are accustomed to carrying their own plastic bag to collect their trash throughout the day and dispose of it at home.
Cats are everywhere and respected. This detail brought to light the constant theme of cats in Haruki Murakami novels (my favorite author). One evening, in Osaka, we were walking in the dark when we realized we were surrounded by cats lurking in the shadows. Watching us. It was a bit amusing and slightly terrifying.
Toilets are refined. Would you like a heated seat or a particular music genre played? This is possible.
A few things resonate with me in terms of fashion. To begin, it appeared that all students wore uniforms. There were few options to express individual identity outside of key chains dangling from backpacks.
As well, it came as a surprise (to me) that women were out-and-about in full geisha styling. I assumed that this custom was something that happened some time ago, and perhaps, for tourist interactions. However, on multiple occasions, we saw geishas in Kyoto. Wikipedia (my knowledge authority) confirmed that geishas are going strong in this particular region.
View all my Japan photos on Flickr.