What we brought back from Japan…


Minutes after you arrive in Japan, the first thing you will hear is, “if you have diarrhea or fever please tell an official”.

The train from the airport to Tokyo is super long, like 1 hour and 20 minutes on a bullet train.

You have to pay cash for EVERYTHING and most ATM’s do not take western cards. You will need to find a post office or a Citibank ATM.

The difficulty you will have finding anyone who speaks English. At one hip restaurant recommended by the New York Times we sat down and they handed us a menu in Japanese. We asked the bartender if he spoke English and he said no, but summoned over the manager. “I am English” announced the Japanese manager. I asked him the difference between the tasting menus priced at 5,000, 7,000 and 12,000. To which he pointed at the 5,000 menu and said “top hat”, then pointed at the 7,000 menu and said “top hat two” and finally at the 12,000 menu and said “no reservations”. We ended up with top hat two.

Snail sashimi tastes like sweat coated tinfoil and has the texture of frozen ABC gum. Venison sashimi on the other hand was delicious.

Lawsons, Seven 11, AM/PM and Family Mart will take a bite out of your travel budget when you discover all the cool chips and snacks they offer. Our rules for snack-attack were we anything bought must have a cartoon character and be void of any English on the label. The results ranged from unbelievably delicious to chalk dust cookies.

Ordering a 750ml bottle of SAKE for two people who had already been drinking is a very BAD idea.

If you get a Starbucks coffee to go, be prepared to walk 6 miles before you find a trashcan. At the same time, there isn’t even a gum wrapper to be found on the street anywhere but Roppongi.

Roppongi is disgusting! Unless of course you enjoy a burning sensation when you pee, then Ropponghi is your spot.

You don’t need to bow. When a Japanese person would bow to me, I would bow back, then they would bow. Eventually it started to look like two bobble-heads in the rear window of a car.

When you order well at a restaurant in Japan the server will yell out your order. Then the WHOLE staff will yell “VERY GOOD ORDER!” in Japanese for the whole restaurant to hear.

Kyoto is like dreaming, watching Glee, eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut and being in “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” at the same time.

Biking around a city of 1.7 million people with ONE hand on the bike and ONE hand on an umbrella is LESS dangerous than it sounds.

Japan hearts France and France hearts Japan right back. So many French pastry shops, restaurants and clothing stores.

Restaurants’ smoking sections are on the INSIDE and non-smoking sections are on the PATIO.

Daikanyama is the HIPPEST place on earth.

No one STEALS anything. People will sleep with their laptops beside them on the metro or park their bikes outside their office all day without a lock.

Toilets have more technology than APPOLO 11. Front and rear squirt-guns, booty blow-dryer, music and river sounds from built-in speakers and heated seats.

It’s VERY hard to piss off a a Japanese person, UNLESS you wear shoes on any surface designated for stocking feet.

Most things you don’t recognize DO NOT taste like CHICKEN.

The MINUTE you get home from JAPAN, you will want to return.

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9 Responses to “What we brought back from Japan…”

  1. Meg Says:

    Gorgeous photos! And I love that your vision of heaven (i.e. Kyoto) includes donuts and Glee.

  2. Angela Napolitano Says:

    Wonderful synopsis of your trip. Love the vignette photos. They are lovely.

  3. LR M-J Says:

    Right on EVERY count…and countless more that you only garner on return trips to Japan! We love our life in Paris and France, but life in Japan, food in Japan is just another, gloriously explored world! We’re already craving, both food & culture wise, our next trip there….it’s so great to see others experiencing the fun we did! 🙂

  4. Jason Says:

    Great article. Thanks

  5. Wendy Says:

    perfect summary! You are the second friends to have just returned from Tokyo and Kyoto and I am soooo jonesing to go again!

  6. heyokayo Says:

    If you do go back, the ATMs in the 7-11s take western ATM cards — a godsend. p.s. Beautiful photos… and what did you have for $700 at that restaurant?

  7. Allison Says:

    I love that you extracted only the most hilarious tidbits for us readers. When you come to MN this summer, will you make me top hat two?

  8. Haruko Says:

    @heyokayo, ¥7,000 = $70 (not $700).

    Thanks for this summary about Japan and Kyoto. I grew up there, have been away for several years, and *finally* am able to move back this summer. I’m really excited! Your post was very funny to me, because it’s so true.

    Found this via http://www.justhungry.com/

  9. Funaek Says:

    Beautiful pictures and hilarious summary! Makes me want to go to Japan and experience the good and the bad!

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