Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Japan is so interesting

Japan is so interesting to me.  Why is Japan so interesting? Maybe it is because it is the only real "foreign" country I have ever been to. I have been to Mexico. But living in Califonia, Mexico is really not very foreign. I have been to Canada. But come on. Is Canada really that different then the United States, other then being able to watch Seinfeld in French, it really is not that different.

Japan is just so different to me.

I consider myself a very observent and visual person. I like to see things. When in Japan, I notice very clearly the most unique things that I have never seen before in California. The Buddhist temples. The Shinto shrines and their torii gates. The Shinkansen rocketing above the rice fields in Tochigi. 

But I also notice the most minute things that are still so different and interesting to me. The family restaurants like Flying Garden seem the same, but they're not. 

The cinder block walls that surround so many homes seem the same as back home in California. But they're not, they are different. They are narrower. They are slightly covered in a black mildew from Japan's humid and wet environment. They are just not the same.

The employees who shout out their greeting as you enter the store, like UNIQLO, and hand you your change on a little tray in the most polite manner you will rarely see in Los Angeles.

How everyone backs their cars into their parking slots in the parking lot at the local Tobu or Aeon shopping center.

Who cares about the cinder block walls, or how Japanese people park their cars, or how they greet you in stores.

But to me it is these little, and big, things, that make me so excited and interested everytime I visit Japan.


  1. Anonymous4:31 AM

    Man, I know the feeling. :)

    I've been to a few foreign countries, in Asia and Europe, but Japan is just among the most interesting. The culture is both very exotic, but very sophisticated in a way that has no parallel in Western culture. But at the same time, also adapts and refines Western culture nicely. Through my wife, I've learned some good habits from Japanese culture I wouldn't have known before, and I am grateful for that. :)

  2. The little things, vernacular landscape are the small and quiet if viewed separately, but if seen as a whole they are the core of what makes a place. I try to aim for those things when taking my photos.

    It's odd coming back to the states and not hearing irashaimase, or dealing with an clerk who is openly annoyed by your presence in his store. Let's not get started on airport security even.

    One of the reasons that I plan to stay here is because there are too many things to learn. Everyday has presents me with a new question. And be it profound or mundane each question is never the less interesting.

    Speaking of Uniqlo have you seen the Uniclock?
    (flash with audio)

  3. That was really cool and bizarre. I am still not sure what that site was about.

  4. Hi Level,

    I am total agree with you japan is more interesting country

  5. I've been in Japan for so long, I sometimes 'forget' to see some of those things that are so exotic; But I agree with sleepytako - everyday there is something new to learn.

  6. Anonymous7:25 AM

    Thanks for adding a link to my blog.

    I added a link to yours on my site, too.


  7. You're welcome and thank you.

  8. Thanks for your comment! Your point of view is very interesting to me!!! I'm happy to hear that you like Japan.

    You know what!? Same like you, I visit NY every summer because I love your country, no interference of others!!!

  9. I have never been to New York. Some day I hope to visit.

  10. There are cinder block walls in LA/CA? I always assumed that was a Japan thing.

  11. Yeah, they are all over. Not like in Japan though where they surround almost every house and are right up against the narrow streets.

  12. John,

    Hey, Thanks for stopping by my site and leaving a post, so I could flip over and check yours out! I think we have very similar views on Japan. I've only been there 3 times and am itching to go back.

    I've been asked the "why Japan" question by other people a lot. I think so much has to do with how much we Americans are inculcated with 'Western Civilization' throughout school, that once we get a taste and see how interesting it is... We want to immerse ourselves in it to 'catch up' on the lost time.

    At least, that's how I justify the airfare!! HA!

    Kanpai tomodachi!



  13. I agree Matthew. Especially a country with the history and traditions of Japan.

  14. I agree, I agree, a thousand times, I agree!

    It's stuff like that, that I love Japan for, that I love living in Japan for. After six years here, there are still things that I notice and are new to me.

    This interest in the details is what makes you a perfect visitor to Japan. My sister who recently came over drove me nuts because she would alternate between telling me that "everything was just the same as in Australia" for example the shopping centres and supermarkets (Say WHAT??) and then thinking that everything that she did deem different was because Japanese must be stupid, or my favourite comment - that it was "just like a 3rd world country". Grrr... still makes my blood boil.

  15. 3rd world?

    The malls are the same on the surface, but then, they are really different. The store are different. The people are different. The employees are different.

    At the stores at an American mall, there is one narrow entrance with security monitors to prevent shoplifting. But in Japan, such as the Bell Mall in Utsunomiya I visit often, the store are wide open to the mall. No security monitors, just open. This is so different. And I love it.

  16. I think I come to the right place, because for a long time do not see such a good thing the!
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