We loved our trip in Japan last year so much that we had to go back and fill in some of the blanks.
This year, I had a bit more advance notice, and had more time to practise Japanese with language tapes, which came in quite handy in remote places like Yonaguni. Starting with somewhere more remote like Okinawa was interesting, and except for Osaka which we didn't see last year, all other cities we had seen the previous year, but not been able to see everything in, so this second visit was great for filling in the blanks we left last year :)
Here are a few random pictures taken over those 3 weeks.
Awesome liquid testing machine in the airport, with this they test your bottle and don't steal your water or juice. TSA, WTF aren't you doing this?
Store attendants training and a pep talk before opening time:
We loved the logo for that company the cat carrying a cat. We gave them our diving luggage in Osaka so that they sent it to our last hotel and we didn't have to lug it around.
How nice for cabs to actually have 2 charging plugs for cell phones :)
All the digital money cards they have, each region had its own and they were mostly incompatible. Now they finally work mostly everywhere, although this bus was an exception and it showed the only 2 cards its old reader could deal with:
I need to revise my charging station system, too many USB devices to charge nightly, that was a bit of a mess :)
French cookies, yummy :)
That one left me speechless. This temple had loaner wheelchairs so that you didn't ride your dirty wheelchair with filthy wheels on their perfect inside floor. To be honest, I find their obsession of no outside dirt at all no matter what, a bit over the top and definitely annoying when you have shoes like mine that take a long time to take in and out.
Japan has hilarious signs, even if you can't read Japanese:
Do not feed the deer, or they'll be very sad :)
Japan still rules for vending machines, available almost everywhere (although that's a lot of trash and there were very few or no places to recycle containers :( ).
fewer of them, but you can still find cigarettes
Just like last year, trains were a lifesaver for getting around, where well organized, and on time:
you can actually get decent coffee, a great selection even
I wrote a lot of notes and thoughts last year, you can go refer to them, I think the only extra thing I'd add this year is that I loved many things about Japan, but I was dismayed by the fact that most Japanese people still work way too many hours because of peer pressure, and in the end, just stay at the office until they've hit 12H or so, and it's ok to go home.
Trains kind of drive themselves nowadays, but they still make it look like serious business, with white gloves :)
For those who try to work that many hours, many studies show it's unsustainable and that you end up actually being less productive trying to work that much than having a normal work week. Somehow, I'd hope that Japanese people wisen up to that and switch to a normal work day and get to enjoy their personal lives a bit more with the extra time.
That said, I'll end with a link to this article Japan, and How I Failed to Figure it Out which actually does quite a good job explaining Japan and how different and fascinating it can be.