Hello world! I’ve just arrived yesterday in Toulouse and I already have a strong need to speak English. We’re back from The Land of Cuteness Japan to Toulouse and greeted by lasagna and cherries. Gosh, I love my mother in law.
H and I have been reminiscing to go back to Japan for awhile and we postponed our trip last year when the tsunami happened. And when we found out that Etihad offered tickets to Tokyo for two at a price of 1 ticket by AirFrance, we jumped in joy. It was such a great bargain and we were extremely happy with the flights (just not the airport, but hey who can beat Changi Airport eh?). Hey Singapore Airline, if you’re not continuously progressing, you’re gonna be seriously lagging behind.
In a nutshell, Japan was full of mixed emotions. It was so GREAT to be back in a country where everyone follows the rules. The same rules. As compared to Angola where there really is no rule, it is such a relief to lower your guards. And looking at how women carry their handbags: they are such an easy prey to theft. Teenagers left their bags and mobile phones on the table and went downstairs to order food! It is also great to be in a country where people are so polite! Aggressiveness is so tiring some times.
“I’m bringing you to the future,” that’s what H chanted throughout the trip. We spent a lot of time in the Panasonic Showroom, Sony Showroom, BIC and Akihabara. And this is where the not so good started. Either the euro is too weak or Japan is just too expensive, all the dreams and hopes to upgrade our camera and buy electronic toys dissipate into thin air. Really. Tsk. The Panasonic model we wanted is not sold for non-Japanese market. The Sony model we wanted is bundled with another lens. The Canon model we wanted.. after playing with it several times, I don’t want it anymore. All these cameras, assuming ceteris paribus are sold exactly the same price in France as in Japan. The difference is you can claim 19% tax refund in France while in Japan it’s only 5%, making the final cost is cheaper in France.
I also wanted to buy some Japanese tea cups and plates but H refused to pay 5 euro for one tea cup and it’s already on 50% discount. H wanted to buy some polo but not at the price that’s 50% more expensive than in France, especially when it is the same products. In Takayama, H finally found what he’s been searching for: a tshirt of Japan’s baseball team. Only to be not allowed to try it on (store’s policy).
But other than our big failure on the shopping front, we really enjoyed ourselves in Japan, especially in Takayama. The view while on the train itself is worthy enough to warrant a visit. In China, Guilin is seen as the most picturesque place under the heaven because you typically have mountains and rivers in one single view. Well, the train ride to Gero & Takayama is a lot like this.
In Kyoto, we went to visit Nijo Castle, and amazingly beautiful castle with its garden. But I can’t help to feel disappointed because the main castle is rarely open for exhibitions and all we could see is the murals on the walls and how big the various halls and rooms are. I went to Chateau Versailles just before going to Japan and at the very least, even if I’m not a history buff, I get to see how they lived. From Marie Antoinette’s hair combs to where the children sat on the dinner table. From the porcelains and their secret passages. Certain things like beds and cushions are wrapped in thick plastics and hence look ugly, but you know.. the visit wasn’t just for nothing.
But the best of all, the one we can’t stop commenting is how good the Japanese chain Freshness burger is (I had the best Tofu burger I’ve ever tasted) and how much we miss their hi-tech toilets especially the one with a seat warmer. Imagine that for winter! We also love how seamless suica card is. We got our Tokyo hotel to forward our luggage to airport and store it for 5 days, all for less than 20 euro. I had a little trip down the memory lane when we were in Manga Museum. H enjoyed a lot traveling with Shinkansen and everything in Japan fascinated him. Even he wanted to bring Panasonic Massage Chair back to Angola! Unlike the other massage chair, this one actually measures your body while you’re seated hence it is able to exactly massage at the right muscle point. Panasonic also has its own kitchen counter top, which when you’ve seen enough kitchen, you know it is made out of special material. I’m also eyeing its new induction stove. You can tell we had a blast at Panasonic Showroom.. 😉
Truly, Japan is really 5 years ahead the rest of us, if not 10 years ahead. A new system of flushing the toilet that uses less water, a new definition of 3D viewing, sightings of hybrid cars and the blue logo of Toyota, electronic gadgets that’s ahead of Apple. This is where the future is heading. And when you travel out of Tokyo, pass Nagoya, Gero and Takayama.. you see more traditional houses, then you look closer to the house details. Even the roof is made to last.
We finally tried the big hooha about Orangina in Japan. This fizzy drink came to Japan not too long ago with a different recipe than the one in France. As a starter, it doesn’t come with pulp and a much smaller bubbles. The taste is also less citrusy. The french complained about how not-so-good it is, but guess what.. the Japan Orangina met its 6-months sales target within 2 weeks. And in France, they recently introduced a new variant called Orangina Samurai, which is extremely good in my opinion. I really need to find out what’s up between France and Japan, why this so strong love relationship with each other. Lastly, what I would love to see more is Japanese speaking English, especially if he/she works in a McDonald or in Airport Duty Free.
Anyway, time to go now.. I have a big task of picking up the cherries from the backyard 😉 They have gathered about 15 kg of cherries last week, so I’m gonna try to beat that record without falling off and breaking my arms of course.