After two months of visiting our families in Canada and the USA we made our way back to Asia two weeks ago. We flew directly back to Nanjing, China and then took the plane to Osaka via a train to Shanghai. 45hours+ of traveling was not the most efficient way to reach Japan but was by far the cheapest. We spread it out with a few days in China to get over jet lag.
We are staying in the Kansai region for about a month before heading to Tokyo for Christmas. From our apartment near Osaka we are within an hour train ride to many famous tourist spots such as Kyoto, Kobe, downtown Osaka and Nara.
I suppose if I could use one word to describe Japan, it would be cute. Everything is cute, from the traffic cones to the little ice packs included in your grocery bag upon checkout to keep food cold. Considerable aesthetic care is taken for every detail. On our walk to the Osaka subway there are little potted plants on the sidewalk placed by neighbors, kindergarteners walking in line wearing matching uniforms and many, many students dressed in suits from the nearby college. Downtown Osaka is filled with capsule toy (gashapon) machines, anime, manga and many toy shops. This neighborhood reminds me of the little city maps I used to lay out on the floor and place my toy cars on, kind of like Brio. Buildings are generally closer to the sidewalks and the street furniture is smaller and seems more human-sized, generating a cozy feeling.
Now there’s much more to Japan and I hope to learn a little more about those aspects over the next couple months. I don’t know much about the darker side of Japanese culture and the challenges people face or the daily sacrifices made to create such a beautiful society but as a traveller I see a simple aesthetic quality and very kind people. I don’t need much else.