Japan 2013

I was blogging my travel adventures over at Tumblr, where it’s easy to post my Instagram photos. But just to be cute, Tumblr has decided to make it really hard to make text posts. Since I usually hate giant text posts on Tumblr, I’d normally count this as a good thing, but right now it’s just annoying. I like having all my travel blogging in one place!

So I’ve moved it here, making a change from the usual book blogging, but think of all the content we’re going to get!

…wait, how do you insert pictures? WORDPRESS APP, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? THE INTERNET DID NOT NEED TO BE MORE DIASPORIC! I DON’T EVEN KNOW IF “DIASPORIC” IS A WORD!

Okay. It’s all right. I know, like, html and stuff. *breath*

OH NO! I HAVE TO SAVE INSTAGRAM PICS TO MY iPAD AND THEN UPLOAD THEM USING WORDPRESS’S ARCANE SYSTEM! THAT’S GREAT! SO GREAT!

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This was the plane that flew Z and I from Hong Kong to Japan. In the background you can see high mountains largely hidden by mist. I have a four-hour stopover at Hong Kong on my way back, and I really hope it’s a bit clearer, because I feel like I was missing out on a really amazing view.

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Instagram photos from our first full day.

The post I made to Tumblr that night:

Japan! This is a thing that is happening!

I had some anxiety before I came, because I don’t speak much Japanese, and some days I find it stressful just speaking with people who share a language with me! But everyone reassured me that the Japanese are really good at dealing with people who don’t speak the language, plus the friends I’m with are living/have lived in Japan and can help me out.

Nevertheless, I feel like I’ve spent an awful lot of time today bowing and saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Japanese,” and then muddling my way through transactions, bowing again and running away calling, “Arigatogozaimasu!” over my shoulder. I completely confused a sales woman by paying for a 1,600 yen magazine by card instead of cash.

Only took, like, three transactions before I remembered to put cash in the dish instead of the cashier’s hands. But a lot of cashiers are trained to hand westerners their change directly, and as they do it, they look as proud as I feel when I remember to say “Sumimasen” as I push through crowds.

~cultural differences~

I just listened to my hostessy BFF LostinOmo explain ANZAC biscuits to her Japanese flatmate, Rie. It was pretty fabulous. Tomorrow Rie is taking us to Shimokitazawa, which is apparently a big hipster district. Then we tried to define “hipster” which is hard enough when you’re only dealing with English.

ANYWAY, I really like Tokyo. It’s amazingly clean, and I love the architecture. Seriously, I know nothing about architecture, but one of my favourite things about travelling is seeing how houses look. So I’m spending a lot of time peering.

I have also gawped at the legendary Japanese toilets like a yokel. Seriously, I had forgotten that there even were legendary Japanese toilets — I only remembered squat toilets and the porcelain throne models. So there was a moment of shock and mild panic when I stepped into a cubicle at Haneda Airport. ALL THE BUTTONS. THE BIDET. THE BUM WASHING FUNCTION.

Gotta say, though, I could get used to the heated toilet seats. Look into it, Australia.

Today we went to Ueno, and I maaaaay have bought a lot of stationery. I just really like Japanese stationery, okay? Also: Uniqlo.

Also, we went through the park, and there were cherry blossoms, and it was really pretty. Lovely weather.

I can’t express how much I wish I could speak Japanese. I’ve never felt so disconnected from the people around me, and it’s really my own fault for being monolingual. I think I’m going to change that in the next couple of years.

I’ve taken steps by learning the kanji for “soy milk”. Hey, I’m lactose intolerant. It’s self-preservation. Japan is really into dairy. Before I developed the intolerance, I used to get cream puffs from Beard Papa in Elizabeth Street, and it was really hard to walk past that shop today. The delicious smells … and mochi ice cream … and cream cakes…

Saturday 16 March 2013

Author: Liz Barr

Words written. Opinions expressed.

One thought on “Japan 2013”

  1. I’ve never felt so disconnected from the people around me, and it’s really my own fault for being monolingual.

    That’s how I felt when I went to Bangkok for my brother’s wedding. At least when we visited Europe, I knew a tiny bit of French.

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