Thursday, May 21, 2009

Japan Travelogue - Everything Peculiar

We come across many things Japanese in our everyday life - most notably, their game consoles, electrical products, etc. And not to mention, the NSFW stuffs that we could be all too familar with. But what is it really like to be personally in Japan and experiencing everything Japanese? If this intrigues you, then you have come to the right place! Here, you will find episodes revealing different facets of this fascinating country, courtesy of my ten-day trip. ;)

The very first things that dawned upon me upon my arrival are the peculiarities - and as the days go by, more and more of them were either overtly or subtly discovered. Firstly, it's the currency - the Japanese do not use cents. At all. Part of the reason might be because their currency is weaker compared to ours? Anyway, here's a snapshot of some Japanese coins:

Japanese coins

And Japanese notes:

Japanese notes - 10,000 yen

Speaking of currency exchange, 10,000 yen is approximately equivalent to 150 SGD, which makes product price range of a few to tens of thousands commonplace. But that doesn't make the coins useless! In fact, you will often need them while purchasing small items and tickets, such as the ones shown below:

A flurry of tickets

The Japanese seems to have a strong inclination towards use of tickets - lots of stuffs are being ticketed, including food (an example of one such ticket, is the one on the top left-hand corner - it says that I have purchased one set of fried pork with raw ginger)! However, I also have to say this is much more convenient than the queuing system that we have here in Singapore - and it minimizes the error in cooking the wrong meal as well! However, the food there is definitely not cheap - as you can see on the ticket itself, the set costs about $9. Speaking of food, I am sure you must be eagerly anticipating savory photos to follow, but nope! Not in this episode anyway, but stay tuned 'cos there will definitely be more to come.

Out of the airport to hit the streets! The first thing one would notice about the streets in Japan are its orderliness - the lands are divided into small plots, where major and minor roads are interspersed between these plots:

Street in Osaka

However, by observing closely, it can be seen that there are certain things about Japanese roads that are quite different from that of in Singapore. Firstly, the wordings on the road are in Japanese (DUH!!). And they have lots of zebra crossings - I means LOTS. Back here, the part where passengers are permitted to cross are denoted by two parallel white lines, but in Japan, they are all represented by zebra crossings - even diagonal ones. Some roads even have specially allocated bicycle lanes! In addition, their traffic lights have no buttons, so all you can do is to just stand and wait. Fortunately, the green man seems to appear more frequently than in Singapore, so waiting isn't really an issue.

What's another thing that you will notice that is markedly different from Singapore? It's the weather. Granted, I haven't really experienced how their summer is like, the temperature now is ideal for trips and living. It's temperature range is at a cool 15C to about 25C, which is on average, about 10C lower than what's in Singapore. Don't believe? See the weather forecast below:

Weather prediction board - found in a hostel!

Another good thing is, you hardly ever sweat! Unlike here, where merely making a trip to the supermarket would reward you with a sweaty T-shirt. However, the cold and dry weather might lead to symptoms such as parched lips and flaky skin - both of which had been experienced by me, and those are definitely downsides to the otherwise wonderful weather.

That was a lot of information, wasn't it? post is definitely insufficient to cover the vast amount of wonders witnessed there. I have to stop here for the time being, but I promise there's more to come. ;) Stay tuned!

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