This is What Culture Shock Looks Like: Japan

February 13, 2017
Destinations

What in the world.

(This is what it looks like when you realize there are SO.  MANY.  HUMANS.  ON.  EARTH.)

This is a guest post by one confused individual named Paula! 

This picture is after being awake for over 24 hours, 13 of which were on a plane watching The King's Speech 3 times which lead me to now despise that movie.  I made my first (of many) cultural faux pas; the passenger next to me was a Japanese businessman and he handed me his business card which I took with one hand.  You're supposed to grab them with two hands.  That wasn't the only one of the flight but it was embarrassing when my husband was like "!!!!!"

After we finally landed, made it through customs, navigated the airport train passes and got on the train we had another hour of travel to the hotel.  That entire hour we passed by...people.  Populations.  Crowded towns and cities.  Any rural areas were few and far between.  These aren't all metropolitan, they're just regular cities but they're FULL of people (like, one of the "small" cities, Kumamoto, has a population of seven hundred thousand).  Enormous apartment buildings, just so so so many people I imagined them going about their daily lives.  Right next to so many other people.  It was the most overwhelmed I'd ever been and I wasn't even to my hotel!  My husband was super worried that we'd made a mistake and I'd spend the entire trip hiding in the hotel.

Luckily, I didn't.  I got brave, adventured, spoke to people in Japanese and marveled at this freaking world we live in.  It was life-changing!  Here are some of the coolest things I saw and a few of the things I wish I had known before I went.

This is the first place I just LOVED like loved loved.  It was on the bank of a smallish river in Kyoto, I sad on the stone edge of it and just looked around and it's one of the best moments of my life.  I have no idea why.  I've never felt emotionally and physically attached to a physical location before but as soon as I set foot outside my hotel (after a good night's sleep) I felt like I was *home* in Japan.

One day there won't be any tuna left for the next generation to eat and I don't even feel bad about it because I ate a lot of it and it's so incredibly delicious.  Sorry kids!

Nevermind the coleslaw and corn, nevermind the bacon and eggs.  This meal is all about that toast.  Shokupan is Japanese toast and there's nothing like it in the world-don't even come at me with "it's like Texas toast!" it is not like Texas toast.  It is light, flaky, thick, buttery perfection.  You can get shokupan at most Asian markets and you better use a toaster oven because anything else is disrespectful.  (I <3 shokupan.)

Boss Coffee (Bose Cohee) is pretty much everywhere and for some reason, Tommy Lee Jones is the face of it.  Enjoy!

Riding the trains and seeing this is honestly my favorite thing to do in Japan.

On the train you can get bento boxes full of traditional Japanese food.  Lots of pickled veggies, rice and, yep!  Octopus (tako).  It's everywhere, it's not really full of flavor so if you can handle the texture, have at it!

I apologize from the bottom of my heart for this filter, it was 2011 and filters were new and 99% of my pictures from my first trip are in this dreadful filter.  But what I wanted you to see is that from the top of any castle, no matter how old, a bustling city is right next door.

In Nara you can feed the deer, in fact if you don't feed the deer you will regret it.  Sometimes they chase you.  Sometimes they nip at you.  You are never unhappy.

Mossburger is a must.  Some call it the Japanese McDonalds but oh my friends, it is so much better.  And that there green drink is melon soda, something that my blood is mostly composed of while I'm in Japan.

Yeah, you can have waffles and soft serve and anko (red beans-they are quite sweet) for breakfast.

Okay, I think that does it my friends, this does not even scratch the surface but it is overwhelming to try and include everything, even all of my favorites.  Maybe I'll do another post in the future but for now I say konbanwa (good night) because it is night for me now.  Mwah!

This has been a guest post by Paula! 

She wanted to use the name Anonymous but I kindly reminded her that she is a librarian, not an anarchist :) 

Siggi Einarson

My name is Siggi-dubbed by my American friends because of the Icelandic yogurt-I am a writer, polyglot, and aspiring expat, not a cup of yogurt (unfortunately).

My love for travelling began with a trip to Iceland and Sweden to visit my family when I was just 15 years old. I spent so long dreaming of the possibilities of life abroad but I always figured these dreams were too far reached. Flash forward almost 10 years, here I am again, both cursing and thanking this damn travel bug.

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