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Children go to School – Day 7

Children go to School – Day 7

The Japanese play it safe a lot.   It’s one of the things that makes travel here so refreshing.   The streets are safe from most crime, the building codes are strict, the food is clean and carefully marked, the people are polite and there is a general social cohesion.  That means there are a lot of things about Japan that the occasional visitor may not notice – especially when the visitor is a member of the media looking for “news”. This comes to mind since there had been some reporting about Japan that, as a somewhat frequent visitor, I found...
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Lost in Translation

Everyone has their own little personal quirks and one of mine is that I habitually misplace things. Traveling only exacerbates the issue, since being on the move means that it’s even more difficult to track everything. On my most recent trip to Japan I lost not fewer than five separate items – and I’ve got four back! Japan is amazing that way – three of the lost items were rather simple for this efficient and incredibly honest society – a blanket left at a ryokan was takybbined to my final hotel, a sheaf of papers dropped (yes, I was so tired...
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Train Folding

Train Folding

There are some things that fall into the “only in Japan” category, not because they require location, but because they require all the elements to fall into place.   Such was my experience on the train to Himeji when we noticed the woman across the way, patiently folding delightful origami birds and boxes.   Americans aren’t accustomed to traveling on passenger trains, so just sitting on the Shinkansen, whizzing across Japan en route to the famous Himeji Castle was a foundation for an interesting cultural experience.  Most people read, look out the window, snooze or maybe...
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Safe Umbrellas

Safe Umbrellas

OK, let’s face it, I think the Japanese are just naturally “neater” than we are.   Take umbrellas.  My experience of umbrellas in the US is that you carry around a tattered old umbrella in the back of your car or in your briefcase, take it out when it’s raining or pouring, open it to dry in the office or the laundry room and then stuff it back where it was.   If you’re out and about, you walk around with a wet umbrella, dripping all along the way, like a damp Hansel & Gretal leaving a little trail to be followed by any thirsty birds or...
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Getting Off the Bus

Getting Off the Bus

Who knew that it would be so hard to get OFF the bus?  We’ve all heard about how crowded the trains and buses are in Japan.  And they ARE!  And we’ve seen those videos of transit workers PUSHING more riders onto crowded trains.   But we found ourselves with a very different, and interesting dilemma. When taking crowded buses we were surprised to find that while getting on was difficult, getting off was almost impossible.  In the US, when you press the “next stop” button and stand up, people move out of the way so you can get off the bus (or...