Sunday, 22 September 2013

First impressions

The old and the new, buildings from within the garden of the Imperial Palace and the commercial centre of Tokyo behind.

Tokyo is different than I thought it would be. It is more 'western' than I had imagined and a lot less frantic and full of people. It feels busy at times but not teeming with humanity. The commercial centre is the same as in any other city with tall impersonal buildings and in the shopping centre's there are the usual designer stores. Professional men all seem to wear dark suits and white shirts and Japanese women appear to dress more modestly (haven't seen cleavage spilling out of anywhere) There is a strong American influence among the youth and some pretty hip dudes walking around. It's strange because there is a conservatism and along side it a radical element. Have seen some pretty amazing shoes, not sure how anyone can walk in them.

I have found the Japanese to be very polite and helpful, also law abiding and rule keeping (every one stands to the left on escalators and no one talks on their phones on the train). It is a place where you feel very safe. I love their penchant for cleanliness and order!

I have enjoyed our local area (Chiyoda), watching people come and go from work and school, eating at places where there is no other Westerner and just getting a small glimpse of 'normal' life. The fact that Colin can generally make himself understood has been wonderful.

Our favourite place to eat is on this road, the gyoza and soup noodles with roasted pork are divine

Green spaces are highly valued and public gardens tend to be manicured with water, stone walls and small shrubs featuring prominently. Surprising to me is the lack of flowers. I am looking forward to understanding more about this.

On a side, bathroom experiences have been a bit of an adventure, you never quite know what will happen when you sit down or when you stand up, water gushes and flushes without you doing a thing. I even had a warmed seat today. I haven't been game to push the myriad of buttons, I like my toilet basic style. Colin on the other hand just had to give it a go, apparently the 'wash' feature has perfect aim!

I am keen to see if any of my initial impressions will change as we head out of Tokyo tomorrow.