With a week left before my departure after two months in Takatsuki, Osaka, Japan, reflection has begun! I have created a list below of some of the things I will miss about this unique and beautiful land of the rising sun. And so, maybe ten things is a bit limiting as there is much I will miss about Japan, but here is my current top ten!!
Here are the top ten things I have appreciated about Japan:
This enigmatic summer pop is delightful. It’s usually tasty and comes in a very interesting, even mystifying package! The glass bottle is sealed shut by a glass marble inside the opening. Each purchase includes a special device to help open the bottle. Then the marble creates a delightful chiming clink as you drink it.
9. Cicadas symphony
The heat of this region of Japan in the summer causes the cicadas to come out and fill the humid air with a sound like a constant high pitched buzzing. The hollow abdomen of the male cicada amplifies the sounds originated from a part of the exoskeleton called a tymbal. The sound appears on really hot days, and I have come to be very fond of it. I think from now, the cicadas chorus will remind me of hot summers in Osaka.
I have travelled a fair bit even if just to Kyoto or Osaka, both a 12 minute ride away with the special rapid express. Local, rapid, special rapid or Shinkansen – the trains are efficient, effective, and extensive in Japan. And I love this option of transportation!
Have enjoyed my favourites from ramen to Japanese curry to Tempera to yakisoba to matcha to meat grilled on sticks to gyoza! Delicious! So yummy.
6. Kind, polite people!
Absolutely, Japanese people are so hospitable and helpful. The politeness is really lovely as well. But the kindness has been overwhelming! One night, my first time finding the second train station in my town, a young woman walked the entire five minute walk (with her bicycle rolling beside her) to make sure I got there safely! My host, Shin and his family, have provided me with a home, a bike, a concert, support, and free rice! Icchan and Fumi in Nagoya were exemplary hosts!! So generous! A man sent his wife down a mountain road to pick me up after hiking as it was getting dark! The sheer thoughtfulness overwhelms and humbles me. Canadians are pretty darn polite and friendly, but the kindness of Japanese people is immense!
Beer is cheap and readily available. It’s in vending machines, at convenience stores, and supermarkets. You can drink anywhere. I really loved the European beer after work summer lifestyle and it’s easy to do here with the added bonus you can drink anywhere so if you want to have a drink at a riverside or in a park or at a summer festival on a whim, you can enjoy it on a hot summer day! While I only took part in one all-you-can-drink “nomihodai” this time. (Fun times, Bailey and Felix – thanks!). The “nomihodai” is a fun, social thing and people are generally pretty responsible with it. Finally, I like the 0 tolerance in Japan – you can’t have any percentage of blood alcohol level to drive. As a childhood friend was badly injured and in a coma due to a drunk driver, I love this rule! And with great public transit, it’s easy to get a safe ride home.
If you ever get the chance to see a Japanese fireworks show, do it! They are incredible. Beautiful, lengthy, and marvellous! They are one of the greatest parts of festivals. Common in August, they blow me away every time! I have seen fireworks in Japan, Canada, Belgium, and France but Japan outshines them all a million times!!! So, so, so amazing!
3. Clever inventions
Post Office ATMs where you can deposit coins no problem, super toilets, heated mirrors so you can see yourself after a shot shower, two-“storey” bike parkades, rice husking and planting machines, automatic carport gates, umbrella racks or plastic sleeves for spillage prevention at stores, and so much more!
I started to write solely about the architecture but realized its not just the buildings in Japan that are gorgeous! But to start – tiled roofs, arched buildings, unique structures, and the abundance of stunningly beautiful temples and shrines everywhere astounds me. Can’t believe I have been living in such a beautiful place. Regular houses are pieces of art. Gardens are outstanding. Umbrellas, food models outside restaurants, backpacks, manhole covers, hiking signage, food presentation, the list goes on! I really appreciate it!
Of course, the number one thing I will miss most about Japan, is the onsens. They are relaxing, natural, social, clean, and beautiful as well! A good soak each week keeps you looking and feeling young and healthy! It’s unique and a great experience. I have been about once a week since about two weeks after I arrived, and it’s been the best money and time spent! Love it.
Overall I am so very grateful for this opportunity. It has been an amazing experience and I truly feel blessed to have visited Japan for a second time. And to live like a local. Thanks, Katie and family!