This is the second addition to my ‘What I Love About Japan’ series. In the last post, I showed you a little around the area where I live in Nerima-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Nerima-ku continues to confound me with its beauty; and every day I am met with the rekindling of my love for this country. I may not be Japanese, but I love Japan. It’s odd to say that, having grown up in patriotic America. I feel like a terrible person sometimes for confessing that I’m not planning on retaining my American citizenship.
Such is life. We make choices, those choices bring about consequences, and we react. So, I react by reflecting on what enticed me to return to Japan in the first place.
When you live in a place that captures your soul, do you ever truly leave?
There are times when I look around me and think, Wow, this is incredible. And I’m a part of it, because I’m here, in the moment.
What do I love about Japan?
1. The signage.
A lot of towns have character mascots. Nerima-ku is no different. Nakamurabashi, as seen in the picture to the left, has a cat called Nyanpy. Nerima-ku as a whole has something that looks like a cross between a goat and a block of tofu.
The sign to the right is a grand example of Japanese warning signs. If you are unaware of Japanese warning signs, they are rather comical…and simultaneously grim. For example, the sign above depicts the terrible things that can happen at this railing. Don’t run into the railing, don’t litter, don’t kick the railing, don’t set off fireworks or start fires, and don’t let your pooch of his lead.
Another example would be the 家でやろう (Please Do It At Home) signs scattered around train stations.
Like this one:
Although, the pollen in the Metropolitan area is heinous.
3. I know I mentioned it in the first post, but I love the real parks like this one in Shakuji-koen.
4. The public transportation systems.
You can pretty much get anywhere using a network of buses, trains, and subways. Take the shinkansen (bullet train), and you can go from Tokyo to Kyoto in less than 3 hours.
Or you can drive your car, walk, or ride a bicycle. One thing I don’t love, though, is the price. If you do not have the luxury of your job or school covering commuter costs, you could spend anywhere from 130 yen to 2000 yen ($1-$19 USD) on a round-trip excursion. Additionally, if you don’t time your arrival to the station just right, chances are that your entire commute will be thrown off as you wait for the train, get stuck on the local line, and miss the next rapid train at your transfer station because the local’s so maddeningly slow.
It is also worth mentioning the canned sardines experience. One time, I got into a subway car so packed with people that I was literally hoisted off the ground by the bodies around me. If you’re claustrophobic, stay away from the stations during rush hour. If you don’t mind getting intimate with a complete stranger, I’d say give it whirl.
Next on the list!
5. Sights like this:
Dudes dancing Rockabilly at the opening gates to Yoyogi Park. In fact, I straight up love Yoyogi Park. It is bustling with activity all of the time. You can hear music, see craftsman, watch impromptu dancers, and sometimes even tightrope walkers make an appearance. People lay out on leisure mats, walk their dogs, drink buckets of alcohol, eat bento and sushi, and basically let loose.
The calmness of Shakuji-koen’s park in comparison to the loud energy of Yoyogi Park goes to show that there is some place for everyone here. Shakuji-koen is quaint and not that engaging for the visitor who seeks action. Yoyogi is in the center of Harajuku, close to Shibuya, and attracts tourists from every corner of the world.
That concludes the second installment of ‘What I Love About Japan.’ Thank you for reading! And remember, please do it at home.