Staying for once for longer in the Kansai region, we were able to venture beyond Kyoto in our explorations. The town of Hikone, located on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, is reachable from Kyoto in one hour by train, making it an easy day trip. Hikone Castle counts as one of the three best castles of Japan (after Himeji and Matsumoto).Continue Reading »
While there are many places worth seeing that we have not yet visited in Kyoto, there are others we keep coming back to, like Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. This time, arriving at opening time did not work in our favor, as about 10 school classes did the same. Kinkakuji presented itself sparkling in a ray of sunlight before a backdrop of moody clouds.
It’s the little things in Japan that make such a difference. That make you feel that people here actually think about what they are doing. I’ve already praised the Japanese attention to detail before. But every time I go back to Japan, I notice it again. It starts at Narita Airport, where there is an employee who turns the suitcases on the conveyor belt so that the handles face outward and people can grab them easily.
Another instance that really brought this home to me was buying a pudding at a convenience store. As I didn’t get a bag, I expected to awkwardly balance/grab at the spoon that came with it, trying not to drop it. But no! They used the bit of tape that marks the fact that I paid for the pudding to actually glue the spoon to the package. Such a small thing to do, and so convenient for the customer.
The Japanese have a love for strawberry shortcake. And for sweets that are lovely to look at in general. Just go to any of the fancy shops on the food floor of a department store, and you can feast your eyes. This is not so very surprising. What is suprising, at least to me, is that in Japan, you can pick up a beautiful looking piece of cake at the convenience store. Convenience store food in other countries is known to be strictly for emergencies or desperate students. You don’t expect it to be very tasty, let alone pretty. Not so in Japan. For less than 300Y, this pretty little cake, carefully packaged to preserve its shape, can be yours. Just stop at the Combini at the corner.