Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some of John's initial thoughts on Japan

Since Amy posted while I was sleeping I'll get some in while we rest up quick before heading out to lunch.

1) People who are working take their jobs seriously. I haven't noticed anyone on their cellphones or Facebook or anything. There is always someone walking around and making sure items are stocked and orderly and dusting off things. If their job is to take orders or greet or help the public they stand at their counter or entryway or wherever they are until they need to do their jobs. And no matter what their job is they seem to try their best to do it well..

2) Speaking of dusting in point 1, I haven't noticed dust. There obviously is if it had the chance to sit undisturbed, but everything is so clean....

3) People are aware of their surroundings but mind their own business. Even people we walked by that were obviously out to the bars to get their drink on might be loud and in party mode, but not the kind of frat boy PARTAY obnoxious or we're partying noise and if you're not as loud as us we'll be louder and make sure you know we are drunk..

Ok lunch time.
Part 2.
4). Everyone seems very well dressed. Like not just nice cloths or anything, but like properly up together outfits. Even people you'd expect to not be, like some of the punks, dorky guys, and other random people... It's like if there was a professional photo shoot and they just walked off the set. It's just noticeably perfect.

5) Everyone is always moving but they don't seem to be in a super rush, even when they are. Like people will be running to catch a train or whatever, but if they miss it they just politely wait for the next one.

6) Traffic. Crossing super busy streets is hectic and cars turning will advance right up to the crosswalk but don't threaten to run you over. They just queue up and just wait. Very disconcerting the first few times with a big truck just rolls up on to you while on the road.

7) TV is a weird mix of the Today Show, the gong show, public access, and the Jerry Springer show. Or anime.

8) The architecture is very varied. We have seen buildings shaped like battleships, Jenga, wavy slides, castles, old European buildings.... It's very cool that they aren't boring.

Some of Amy's Initial Thoughts About Tokyo

It's 3 AM in Japan.  I slept about 4 hours, but seem to be wide awake now.  We'll see how long it lasts as I try to write this...

Anyway, I thought I'd record some of the things I've noticed so far in Tokyo - it's only been a little over a day so maybe it'll be interesting to see how my perception changes.

1.  Tokyo is CLEAN, even though there are a gazillion people here and there never seems to be a public garbage can anywhere.  The streets are clean, the subway stations are clean, the sidewalks are clean, our hotel is clean, the green spaces are clean - everything is CLEAN.  It doesn't feel like a sterile sort of clean - it is maybe more like people have respect for their surroundings and who wants to be surrounded by trash?  I'm not sure, but I like it (except when I need to throw something away.)  I also haven't noticed any homeless people - very different from other big cities I've been to.

2.  People in Tokyo are always moving.  When they are not moving themselves, they are being moved by something else like escalators (standing on the LEFT side), trains, or subways.  Even the people just standing around seem to be moving or momentarily waiting to move.  It maybe sounds hectic and overwhelming - and it kind of is - as I mentioned, there are a GAZILLION people here; however...

3.  People in Tokyo are respectful.  The vast crowds of people don't push or shove, they don't randomly stop in front of you then get mad when you run into them, and they seem to be aware of the people and things around them all the time (e.g. even people walking around texting in a crowded train station seem to know exactly where they are).  We noticed that we very often forget that we are very obviously outsiders - we don't get stared at or anything like that.  People do their best to make sure we understand with gestures, using calculators to show us numbers, carefully counting back our change, and other things like that.  We have had people randomly ask us if we need help - and they sound like they genuinely want to help us.  It's nice.

4.  Tokyo feels safe.  While making our way through a SEA of people in the Shinjuku JR Station, it's occurred to both of us that we should feel unsafe, or at least like we should be extra, super careful/aware, but it's a very momentary feeling.  Of course we have common sense and take precautions - we're not stupid.  It's very nice to not feel like...prey, though.

I'll stop here for now.  We are continuing to post photos on Flickr as we have time between our adventures - you can find them here.  We'll add captions as we have time too.  John's been taking tons of videos with our little Flip camera and also several photos with our DSLR camera that we haven't uploaded yet so watch for those.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Our first photos are on Flickr!

We posted many of the photos we've taken so far - you can see them on Flickr (you can also click on the thing with the photos on the right side of the screen).

We're in Japan!

IMG 1948

Standing in line at the airport for train tickets, but we are here!
Update: we got the train tickets, waiting for our train to take to Shinjuku to get to our hotel.  It's super clean but almost no garbage cans/bins anywhere.  I found a guy with a roller bin so guessing thats somewhat common..  train just got here!  Good thing we got assigned seats..  whoa they flipped the seats around 180 degrees since this is the end of the line this direction.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Our flight to Japan...

Here we go!!!
We "splurged" on an upgrade to Delta's Economy Comfort seats - and it was totally worth it.  
IMG 1947
Thanks to (as well as common sense), I also got us the bulkhead seats.  Check out the amount of leg room we had:
John and his loooong legs were quite comfortable for 13 hours!
We also had our own touch-screen monitors with tons of complimentary movies and TV shows.  We liked Wreck It Ralph a lot!
…and we're falling asleep…more later...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Taiko No Tatsujin - super awesome fun time!!!

We've discovered a series of Japanese video games that we are currently a wee bit obsessed with: Taiko No Tatsujin.

IMG 5233

It makes me feel like we're learning Japanese sounds…or at least the words to the Mickey Mouse Club theme in Japanese...

Monday, March 11, 2013

What we are excited to experience in Japan…

  • The Japanese version of Western food
  • Vending machines
  • Buddhas…en masse
  • Karaoke
  • Efficient transportation (Shinkansen!!!)
  • Japanese TV
  • John wearing Japanese pajamas
  • Tokyu Hands
  • Sakura
  • Kawaii
  • …all the things we can't even begin to understand that we don't understand.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What's with all the empty posts?

You may have noticed all the empty blog posts recently added and they probably seem pointless, especially since we don't have to make them public till we feel like it (like, when we've actually added content).  However, life around here has been all about Japan and, while it's not especially interesting, we thought it'd be a good way to kind of hold ourselves accountable and give our many adoring fans (hi mom!) an idea of what we plan to tell you about how/what we've been planning the past couple months.  Also, finding travel guide-type things that seem to be aimed at people like US are very hard to, maybe, some other 30-somethings will happen to find this blog someday and find it incredibly useful (that'd be even more likely if I ever got around to writing the "About Us" stuff, I suppose.)  Anyway, it's what we have.  Enjoy.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Itinerary Updates (draft)

  • Tokyo guide
  • Extra day in Tokyo; 1 less day in Kyoto
  • No Kanazawa
  • Disneyland during Tokyo Part 2
  • Tokyo day trips - Kamakura and Nikko

Friday, March 1, 2013

Learning Japanese

    So, learning the Japanese syllabaries was a gazillion times easier than I assumed it would be.  One little word:  memorization. 

    Rote memorization via flash cards and iOS apps...

    6 days later:

    • Purpose - ability to read menus (we don't want to accidentally eat sperm filled squid testicles)
    • Progress
    • Katakana - super easy
    • Hiragana - slightly harder, but barely
    • Kanji- it can be fun...
    • Studying - methods
    • Useful apps/tools
      • Sticky Study
      • Anki
    • Links
      • Tae Kim's Learning Japanese