Apprehensive about his first trip to Japan, my husband, Bill researched the cultural dos and don’ts online. He did not want to offend anyone. However, after a long 24 hour trip, friends greeted us as we stepped off the plane and made us feel welcome. Someone accompanied us everywhere we went and guided us through the cultural protocols until we returned a week later. Here are a few things we learned.
1) Tokyo is as crowded as we heard. Bill said he saw more people in a week than in all his years in Oklahoma.
2) If you want to do some luxurious shopping, Ginza is the place to go. We stayed in the old classic Hotel Monterrey where Miho’s beautiful wedding took place. Located in the central upscale area, we ate in restaurants nearby and walked down the awesome main street which is closed to traffic on Sunday afternoons. Not that I purchased anything at these stores!
3) The Shinkansen, or Japanese Bullet Train, was so fast that the countryside whirled by. Going 170 or more miles per hour, we could hardly take pictures. Actually, the train system appeared to be twenty third century development. Thank you Reiko, for guiding us through the train mazes because we would still be lost if it wasn’t for your help.
4) You will have luck if you see the yellow train (Doctor Train). It rarely appears. We saw it in Tokyo and everyone started taking pictures. Then again, we saw it in Osaka! We saw it twice on the first day we ever traveled in Japan, while the Japanese people we visited had never seen it before! Are we lucky or what?
5) Japanese Christian churches may be rare, but you can find one. We visited Saeko and Hide at their church in Osaka and had an Oklahoma reunion. What fun!
6) Japanese love to give gifts. We were showered with gifts every time we met someone new. Thank you, my Japanese friends, for all the kindnesses!
7) The little children were adorable! We fell in love with Meya, Noah, Mia, and the one month old baby Noah. So precious.
8) Japanese people are warm and welcoming. Families welcomed us into their homes and they were the perfect hosts! Many others came from all around Japan to visit with us. Nao just happened to be there from Singapore, and brought her fiancé!
9) Bowing is just part of the culture. Japan is truly one of the most polite and respectful countries we know.
10) Japanese food is outstanding and healthy. Of course, we ate exotic dishes (exotic to us because we had never tried before) like eel, squid, octopus, raw tuna, and squid ink. It may be unusual but we really liked everything we ate! Thanks to those who broke bread, or sushi, with us!
11) Japanese temples are a magnificent sight to see. We loved going to Kamakura and Enoshima. We even saw Mt. Fuji from the distance! Some sweet friends took time to showcase their countries finest wonders.
12) Sumo wrestling is sumo wrestling. Not that the sport is new, but we had never seen a huge arena with seats on the ground yelling for monstrous contestants. We plan to research the rules to this serious event. Thank you for the opportunity.
13) Friends will always be friends. We were so happy to see many people after six, seven, eight years or more – those we met in Oklahoma. Our hearts were blessed, and we hope we blessed them too. God was good to let us visit Japan! (I have many more pictures to post later.)
If we offended anyone, we sincerely apologize, bowing with our face to the ground. The Japanese culture is beautiful and so are the people!
You are loved, kathryn