I went to Japan last month. As we walked around I found myself enjoying the little differences more than anything else. Since returning, I’ve found myself talking about them a lot and thought it’d make for quite a good alternative write up of the trip.

(if you’re interested in seeing some selected pictures, you can find them on my photos site)

The doors on the left side will open

We made pretty good use of the metro in both Tokyo and Osaka in quite a short space of time. The summary here is that it’s an amazingly easy set of interconnected systems that runs like clockwork, as expected. Some features I particularly liked…

This is something many stations in Japan had sorted - I think they’re a work of art.

map of station

on off signage on platform this is where you stand for this door

where to wait this is how you choose where to wait based on the destination stop

Was there a peach fanta in that one?

While playing real life pokemon to collect our favorite soft drinks we covered quite a lot of ground on foot too.

strangely located vending machine vending machine in the middle of a residential area with very few people around

Random street-based observations follow…

ramen chicken manhole cover


strange boi waiting for train waiting for the train experience of my life - refreshing drink in hand

space for my knees look at all that space for my knobbly knees!

Please feel free to use a toilet

I’m not sure what the rest of us were doing while the Japanese were designing their toilets but we got a long way behind. Many have heated seats and some even play music.

toilet that plays music

Relative to my experience of finding public toilets in the UK, public toilets in Japan are everywhere. They are mostly very clean and well looked after if not modern. Foam soap (to reduce the amount of waste) is much more common, while hand dryers are much less so. I noticed (after some time) that many carry a small hand towel with them - I’ve tried to make this a habit of my own too. This means I don’t need to use hand dryers (I hate hand dryers but that’s another post…).

my bullet train handtowel my bulltet train themed hand towel from the Kyoto rail museum

In the UK there are ‘public’ toilets in places like pret. However, locked unless you buy something and get the code on the receipt. In Japan, having a toilet was something to bring people in. Feel free, don’t mind if I do!

shop advertising toilet

Would it be OK to have the bill so we can start waiting for the card machine?

In Japan they don’t seem to have that dance at the end of the meal out. When you are ready to go you just walk up, pay, and leave. I appreciated that. Bells on tables were also a great idea.

Eating while walking around was also not a thing - we learned that people just think you’re strange if you do. To help with this, even in little corner shops (Family Mart etc) they often have a small table areas and even a sink to wash your hands with after eating (things purchased in their shop).

Some things didn’t make much sense to me though… like these pre-fried chips…

refrigerated fries

or this bum beer

bum advert for beer

this salad

salad at breakfast

or this small butter child advert

butter child on toast ad

Is that it?

Nope, I’m going back but not sure when.

Some more photos that didn’t really fit above…

vending machine selling handmade bags vending machine selling handmade bags

an unattended gacha shop that locked automatically at 11pm an unattended gacha shop that locked automatically at 11pm

umbrella covering machine machine to cover umbreallas in a plastic bag to stop drips