Umbrellas – I am not sure if the weather has been surprisingly good or just normal while I have been here, but Japanese surely have a use for umbrellas. It has only really rained for two days out of my trip which has been ten days so far. I guess I never noticed until it actually rained, but in front of every shop, office, or restaurant there are umbrella stands. If they don’t have stands to put your umbrellas in, then they have disposable plastic umbrella bags to put your umbrella in so that it won’t drip. When you exit the establishment there is a trash for these bags.
I was always interested to see how the crossing at shibuya station would be when it was raining and everyone had umbrellas. I got to see that several days ago, and it was quite interesting. While traversing the crowded sidewalks people would move their umbrellas every which way to avoid colliding with a passerby.
Another note; American golf umbrellas would never work here. If you had one I am sure you would piss off a lot of people very quickly by taking up so much space.
Food – the food here has been amazing. While I am not positive I have been eating the healthiest, every meal I have had has been delicious. Some of the things I have had that I remember are grilled- chicken, cow intestines, cow tongue, another cow organ, tempura, udon noodles, lots of rice, ramen, fish, chicken heart and liver, and more. I have not encountered very many spicy dishes. Most of them are either a little sweet or a little salty, but never too much. There are also many more restaurants here than in America. Also each restaurant has a display of their best dishes (plastic I believe) in front of their stores so people can see what their meal will look like before ordering. Food comes out very quickly and you are never expected to tip your server.
Onsen – I had the opportunity to visit and onsen with Kevin and his family. An onsen is a natural hot springs. The place we went to was about and hour and a half drive from Tokyo. The inn was very beautiful as well as traditional. We all stayed in one room that had just a table in the middle. The onsen experience was something quite new to me. You start by talking off all clothes (in private) except for your underwear and putting on a robe called a yukata. Then once you have entered the springs (there is usually one for men and one for women) you can either clean off or just go right in. All you have is a small towel which you are supposed to use to conceal your private parts in a nonchalant type way. The water was great, and we stayed in for about an hour. Then once you are finished you wash off and then back into the room. We stayed in our yukatas all night. We had dinner and breakfast there as well which were both wonderful. In all it was quite a unique experience that i was glad to have tried and would love to again!
I will have one more post detailing my final thoughts within the next few days.