I didn't know much about Japan before flying there for the annual international Ecovis conference on behalf of Ecovis Hungary for 10 days in October. Fragments of their culture and industry are present in my everyday life because I often have sushi or use my 'made in Japan' Nikon and Olympus camera. But apart from the one page in my college history book dedicated to Hiroshima, the Murakami novels I read so far and the Memoirs of a Geisha movie that I watched several times I didn't have a clue what Japan would really be like.
After these 10 days I can honestly say that I'm in love with this country. For sure, it's a different world, a different planet. Especially for a European. But I liked its unlikeliness. I never thought that it would have such a big impression on me. I just can't wait to be back again and explore its hidden treasures with Miki by my side. Until then, some interesting and funny facts about Japan - strictly from my perspective:
1/ FISH, FISH, FISH. They even eat fish for breakfast. I know you long for some raw eel to accompany your espresso in the mornings.
2/ There are no public trash cans in Tokyo. Or just a very few. You literally have to walk miles to find one. The reason: Japanese people don't walk and eat in the streets so there is no need for garbage cans. If you produce waste then take it home or to the office with you. As a result, I haven't seen any trash thrown in the streets. Good way to keep your environment clean.
3/ If you think that you know how a fancy toilet looks like then visit Japan where even public toilets are ultra-modern with electronic buttons and a dial control on the side of the toilet. One push and you can use it as a bidet. Another push and your cabin is filled with a scent of a fresh green meadow. Or you would like to listen to a running stream while you use the toilet? Only one restriction - don't forget to change from house slippers to toilet slippers.
4/ If you feel ashamed of the amount of time you spend staring at the screen of your smartphone then console yourself with the fact that some - aka Japanese people overall - are much worse.
5/ We, Hungarians don't quite excel at queueing. On the contrary, Japanese even form a line when they are waiting for the metro.
6/ I would kidnap every Japanese children under age five. They are irresestibly cute.
7/ They drive on the left.
8/ The population of Japan is nearly 130 million. It wouldn't be such a big number if its territory wouldn't be just four times bigger than Hungary's. Budapest would be a bit busier I guess.
9/ Japan is definitely not a budget-friendly place. 1 latte = HUF 1500.
10/ I thought that the last geisha (they call them 'geiko' in Japan) might actually be Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha but apparently not as one was actually a guest at our table in Kyoto. They are still considered as female entertainers celebrated for their beauty, skill at traditional dance and music, and witty conversation. I wouldn't dare to ask if they are still celebrated for other skills - if you know what I mean.
Photos by Me