An odd title for a first post in Japan, but honestly it is–in my opinion–a good title. Vending machines are huge in Japan, and they are literally everywhere, on the street, down a dark alley, behind grocery stores, and all over my campus. On thing that is very different is that the Japanese do not generally drink/eat and walk at the same time. So when you get something from these machines, you are expected to stand there and drink it, then throw it away. I have been trying to adjust to this unspoken custom, and while I don’t enjoy chugging Cokes while standing still, I have noticed some weird looks when I take it walking. It is a great time to socialize with people and enjoy a beverage. It’s a lot like their way of taking baths– get clean first and then get in the bathtub. Baths can be either comfortable, solitary experiences or social gathering times. Likewise, walk time is not drink time, they are two separate things, so they are done separately.
People here are incredibly nice and patient, however not being able to speak or read much of the language really gets frustrating quickly. I have adopted a practice of pointing at a menu and ordering whatever it is, and it has not yet let me down. The food is always very good here, although the smaller portions often leave me hungry. Hard to adjust from American portions.
Cars drive on the left. One of my new friends almost got hit by a car, so it’s something to adjust to. The train and bus system is incredible and very easy to use, even for a foreigner. I went on a tour to Kyoto yesterday, a place that I’m sure I’ll visit many times. Temples are everywhere, and we visited the Golden Pavilion.