December 7, 2017Japan, John Standard

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.


Our Nanjing hostel’s backyard. We spent two nights here as we passed through China.


Our apartment building in Northern Osaka. We are on the second floor with a river view. $30 Canadian a night!


Our Osaka apartment. It’s very small. The top bunk bed is motorized to provide more space.


Numerous running, biking and walking paths in our neighborhood go along the canals.


We walk this way to the local supermarket. The streets are so clean and quiet.


So much attention to details. Cute (kawaii)!


North of us is Minoo Park. There are monkeys, but unfortunately we didn’t see them.


Beautiful Kyoto is about an hour’s train ride away.


Cute traffic signs in Kyoto.


World famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.


Thousands of Torii gates line the shrine’s paths.


The trains are quiet, clean and, naturally, colour matched.


Train workers riding the local train.


Sarah and I are suffering a capsule toy addiction.


One of the capsule toys. This is a fellow from the anime movie “Your Name.”


Night walk along the downtown Osaka canals. This is the very lively Dotonbori neighborhood.


We were interviewed by these two for a Tokyo morning show. They asked questions around why we liked Japan and Osaka.



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