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.