Japan

The crazy toilets topped our list and gave us an hour of unparalleled laughter and fun! In sharp contrast, is the tea ceremony: Apart from the all-important matcha tea itself, other key aspects of the tea ceremony include those quintessentially Japanese features such as traditional calligraphy on a hanging scroll, flower arranging, and clothing. The many rules and steps involved in chanoyu embodies what today is known as “slow living”: an intensely aesthetic, artful experience where food and drink are savoured slowly, objects and interiors are admired thoughtfully, and people behave respectfully and reverently. There’s no better way to experience classic Japan than by staying in one of the country’s thousands of traditional Japanese inns (ryokan). Shibuya is a sea of childlike pastel clothing and nostalgic toys...bowing is performed when you’re saying hello and goodbye, thanking someone, apologising, congratulating and asking for a favour...not to bow is considered impolite not to return a bow to the person that has bowed to you. A fascinating country....

THREE things we did not know about Japan:

  1. Geisha are one of the most captivating symbols of Japan. Their iconic appearance is unmistakable thanks to the elaborate makeup, hairstyle, kimono, and more. Yet much of a geisha’s lifestyle and responsibilities remain shrouded in mystery, with many misconceptions about the profession spoiling its image. A woman wanting to become a geisha must first serve an apprenticeship where she will learn the many skills required for the role. An apprentice geisha is called a “maiko,” and an apprenticeship takes around five years to complete. To become a geisha, maiko will take lessons on how to sing, dance, and play music. They will also learn the art of conversation as well as the formal hosting skills expected of a geisha. We had the privilege of being entertained by a Maiko…an unforgettable experience.
  2. About 57% of Japanese use the public transportation. That percentage compared with the population creates massive commuter struggles. In fact, most of the railways operate at 199% over occupancy forcing people to smash their faces against windows to squeeze inside. The city even hires “transit pushers” to stuff bodies into subway cars during rush hour.
  3. There are millions of vending machines selling evreything from sex toys to food!

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