Japan: The legend begins
So I was told by my employers that I had to many vacation days unused, and that they were finally going to hire someone so as to allow me to take a vacation. The result of this is that I decided to spend three weeks exploring the epicenter of strangeness for planet earth, AKA Japan.
For anyone planning to visit Japan I have compiled some helpful advice below:
Pronounced G L by most locals… it is JR as in Japan Rail (There are other rail companies though)
To begin with is transit, in most countries there is a certain flexibility among transit personnel that allows them to treat the schedule as more of a hypothetical piece of wishful thinking than a rule. This is not the case in Japan. The train departs at the correct time from each and every station, so much so that one can determine if a stop is the correct one simply by checking if it is in fact within one minute of the posted arrival time, if not it is in fact the wrong stop.
The above set of adorable and indecipherable symbols are used to mark post offices, which would in most places be of little to no interest to those travelling, however being a cash based society Japan has cleverly located ATMs that connect to international banks and dispense yen. This will come in handy as no matter how much cash one carries there is always something too shiny to pass up and you will find yourself divested of currency.
Vending Machines are absolutely everywhere and contain virtually anything one could imagine, except of course the kinds of things generally found in vending machines, for example snacks.
This subject has been covered in far more detail than I care to get into by Others and quite frankly I am glad I have yet to encounter the vast majority of these godforsaken machines.
Lastly a note on things I found odd in Japan
1. Indoor Heating, because Japan is incredibly hot in the summer the vast majority of homes are built to maximize airflow and heat dissipation, which is great except in winter when it dips to zero Celsius in ones apartment.
2. Deodorant, there is no logical explanation for the absence of deodorant in a place where people are literally shoulder to shoulder all day long, but somehow this innovation passed them by unnoticed.
3. Japanese phone numbers are ten digits, much like North America with the area code. The interesting thing being that no one in Japan seems to have settled on a pattern to display or say those numbers, sometimes in groups of two, sometimes three with a last trailing digit, sometimes four four two. Needless to say this can be a challenge when expecting a sensible and easily remembered grouping of numbers.
4. Tradition is viewed as a virtue unto itself. This causes numerous clearly idiotic behaviors both on the individual and national level. For example no one likes whale, essentially no one eats it, yet Japan continues to hunt them because they have done so previously.