And I don’t mean a difference in massages…sorry to let you down folks. I didn’t venture into the massage parlour again!
There were just several big differences I started noticing between Japan and China. I feel like my brain has gotten the break it’s needed from the constant hustle and bustle of China. YAY! I didn’t really realize that I was getting used to all the noise, and pushing and shoving from China until I spent a few days in Japan.
As a mentioned in my previous blog, Sandra and Jim were nice enough to visit Ryan and I here in China, and we decided to spend several days in Japan! I was pretty excited! Although I haven’t been working much lately, Japan was an exciting holiday before I would begin full time work.
When we first got to Japan, the VERY first thing I noticed were how extremely NICE and polite the people were. If I can remember Canada correctly (since maybe my memory has been tainted by China), I think that Japanese people are even more polite than and considerate than people in Canada. I noticed people smiling A LOT, not getting in my personal space, no one touching me for unnecessary reasons. I didn’t hear persistent horn honking like in China…actually I didn’t I hear any. I didn’t see people get rude with one another. In fact, with many interactions between Japanese people, I saw that they each had a lot of respect for one another. No one was rude, no one started yelling. I think if anyone wants to teach their child good manners, they should just take them to Japan! Sounds like a good excuse to me.
So when we first arrived in Japan we met up with friends of Ryan’s family that lives there. This is how nice they were…they arranged to take us to all the places we wanted to visit and we hardly had to worry about a thing! Seriously everything was organized so well there wasn’t any point that we needed to stress! Except for almost missing our flight to Japan, but that was in China…
Our first night in Japan I got my first taste of real (expensive) Japanese Sushi. It was AMAZING. Not that I’m picky when it comes to Sushi. I’ll definitely still go to Ye’s when I get home because Sushi is Sushi. But because we tried the Sushi in the hotel we were at, it was over-priced. But in Japan you can get really good Sushi at the train station for a reasonable price.
The next day was Mt. Fuji day! I was pumped for this part because it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Japan. My excitement had to hang on for a while though because it took around 3 hours to drive to the mountain, and on our way up the weather didn’t look too promising. We were worried the clouds wouldn’t clear up for us to see the mountain, but luckily as we got higher they did and we could see it!! Honestly pictures don’t do it justice for how beautiful it looks in person. Considering it’s not the season to be going to Mt. Fuji due to the weather, I felt like we were all really lucky. Even Manami San; the tiniest, cutest older woman I have ever met with the most energy I have ever seen; (who was our ‘guide’ for the trip) was shocked to see that the clouds cleared up.
Side note about Manami San: She is the mother of the family that Ryan’s family knows in Japan. I described her as ‘older’ but it is really hard to tell her age. She must be older because she has a son that has two kids of his own. I also can’t tell his age either…But she has perfect skin, she always seems to be happy, and has lots of energy! She was hilarious throughout the trip to Ryan and I for reasons she didn’t know about…Only because she’s so cute. After our day at Mt. Fuji Manami San took Ryan, Sandra and I to Tokyo Skytree Tower (which is pretty much just like the CN tower but newer). We kind of decided to do our own thing and walk around to see the view of Tokyo, but several times when we were walking around Manami found Ryan and I asking where Sandra was. EVERY time, Sandra would come around and Manami would see her and make this “ooo!” sound, as if in surprise to see Sandra was in Japan. It was as if she hadn’t seen Sandra in forever, when she was with her 2 minutes earlier. Ryan and I couldn’t stop laughing because it happened again as we were about to leave. She thought she lost Sandra, but “OO!” there she is!! Like Where’s Waldo. Oh Manami…so cute. She’s just one of those people that cares for everybody and wants to make sure they’re happy and comfortable. It felt as though she were my Japanese grandma. Adorable!
On our last day in Japan we went to several temples which were filled with people. Mostly because it was on a weekend and also a Chinese holiday, people from Japan and China were jam packed in there. I started being able to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese people. And I apologize for anyone reading this that may be Japanese or Chinese…you all just look so great and so young that it’s hard for me to tell the difference on where you come from. I was just able to notice the difference in who was Japanese or Chinese by the way they took pictures…It was actually really funny. Japanese people will politely wait their turn to take a group picture, and will even offer to take pictures for other people. However Chinese people I saw pushing and shoving, stumbling even to take their pictures. SO many times Ryan and I were trying to take pictures together, or I was trying to get pictures of Jim and Sandra, and a Chinese person would butt in trying to get their own pictures instead. They were too excited with getting their own pictures they didn’t realize what was going on around them. Or maybe for some odd reason, figured we were done with our pictures. Many times I had to ask them to move away which got kind of annoying, but we just laughed it off instead.
After our temple experiences, we went to a Zen Garden where we got to experience the traditional way of drinking tea. We all sat in a tea room, which is a rather small room, where you sit on pillows and drink your tea. The way they start is by giving you a pastry of sorts, which is usually really sweet, and follow it up with a bitter tea (usually green tea). They taught us that before the first sip we should hold our cup in our non-dominant hand, while turning the cup bit by bit towards yourself, 3 times. It was pretty cool actually, but so funny to watch Jim try do this comfortably. He’s about as flexible as a table and has a really hard time sitting with his legs crossed. His knees were around his ears when he tried crossing them. And to add onto that discomfort, he hated the green tea.
Here you may notice Jim’s struggle in mastering flexibility. We had to eat several meals on the floor so it wasn’t a great day for his legs!
Another big difference between Japanese and Chinese people that I’ve noticed is their importance around time. In China, often they set a time and its usually 30 minutes later than when they say. Most people try to be there for a certain time but usually don’t make it. For work this is different, but for most other things it doesn’t seem like time is very important. In Japan however, if you say you’re going to be somewhere at a certain time, you’d better be there. Ryan and I figured this out fast when we showed up at breakfast. We thought the buffet was open until 10:30am, when it was only until 10. So unfortunately we arrived right at 10. The manager on duty didn’t want to let us in even though the food was still out and people were still sitting down eating. So we said we’d order something off the menu, but decided that since the food was out we’d grab some anyways. The whole time the staff kept coming up to us asking if we needed help. No, I can choose my own food thank you very much!! But seriously 5 different people came up to me and it was getting rather stressful trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast. Anyways, now you all know that when breakfast ends at 10 in Japan, don’t show up 1 second past that time!
Overall, Japan was a really cool trip, and I’d be happy to go back any day! Actually Ryan and I plan on going back to climb the whole mountain. Apparently it’s really cool if you start hiking it around midnight so that you make it there in time to see the sunrise. I’d also be happy to go back to Japan because the people are sooo nice and polite, the air is clean and fresh and I get my personal space 😀