The Japanese are incredibly disciplined and polite. They live under such strict guidelines that make the US or any other country look uncivilized. Even if you're quiet, you feel a bit boisterous and disorderly around them. Everything is so well thought out. When you enter or exit a 7-11, restaurant, or anywhere every employee screams out a lengthy greeting and farewell. You never see anything broken or out of order and if something breaks, someone is right on top of it. They are trying to build the perfect society. Everyone wears formal suits at all times, except maybe Sunday. The yen's lowest paper note is 1000, and nothing costs less than 100.
Everything and anything (hot dogs, fries, chicken, soup, ice cream, cigarettes, beer) is available in the infinite amount of vending machines cluttering rooms, parking lots, and sidewalks. Many restaurants have a 'vending looking' machine out front where you choose what you want, pay and receive a ticket which they use to bring your meal. Bicycles share the sidewalk, and there is a particular direction labeled for walking on stairs or walkways which everyone follows. The teenagers seem to all compete for the more over the top vivi, magna, anime, schoolgirl look. Many of the intersections have the crossings at the same time so it's a mass mingling of people.
Because of the density of the city, there are many standing sushi bars and soup places with no chairs. (left and below) And it seems many of the older men are addicted to these slot machine / pinball games? (right) Another strange anomaly is that there seems to be an absence of garbage cans, anywhere! Not in bathrooms, restaurants, sidewalks. On one hand you think of this disciplined society of correctness and cleanliness, but no way to throw anything out. I guess garbage cans look unsightly. And for some reason there are never any paper towels in bathrooms, or even a hand dryer! And if you find paper towels in a restaurant, they are made out of plastic!
The subways are astonishing, with their vast coverage, accuracy, ease of use, and the attention to detail on maps and signs. There is a unique song that plays for each stop on a line. Everyone is extremely courteous and quiet on trains (like pretty much anywhere in Japan) Talking on cell phones on the subway is prohibited. The horse sashimi (above) was amazing, as well as the whale sashimi (below). The blowfish was expensive in the restaurant (above right), that is until I found it in the supermarket (right). If you like udon (Japanese noodle) or even ramen, Japan has the best. But nothing is cheap. And for some reason it seems nobody eats breakfast! Can't find food early?
The bullet train (above) was spectacular! The US is so far behind! And you get spectacular views along the way in a clean and comfortable cabin. The most incredible thing was that about half way through the trip you pass through a mountain tunnel and come out the other side into what seemed a wintry tundra region (above) covered with snow! Then as fast as you entered, a minute later you pass through a tunnel and it's hot and sunny again! Hakone, near Mt Fuji, has natural hot springs and mineral mines (below) you cross over in gondolas, where below they soak eggs in minerals. Osaka (below) has a great underground restaurant mall.