Notes on Japan

Home now. According to the pedometer app on my phone, I walked a total of 534,826 steps in the last 22 days, or about 247 miles, an average of 11.227 miles a day.

Some additional notes:

  • The paper money in Japan is all new. Every time I got change anywhere, I got bills that looked like they had never been used. In the two weeks I was in Japan, I never saw a bill that had even been folded. I can’t even guess how they accomplish that.
  • Trash cans are surprisingly hard to find. I walked miles with trash stuffed in my bags because I couldn’t find any way to get rid of it. And when you do find a trash can, it will only accept a certain type of recyclable. It might be big enough for your Starbucks cup, but not the lid. Or it’s only for plastic bottles.
  • Train station restrooms don’t have paper towels or air dryers. You just have to dry your hands on your pants. But many of them do have hooks next to the urinals so you have some place to put your umbrella. A matter of priorities, I guess.
  • Japan often uses songs familiar to Americans in unexpected ways. There’s no cultural or lyrical association, so they just use the tunes. I was changing my shirt in a restroom in the Nagano train station and I heard a familiar melody that I couldn’t place. It was played in an 8-bit video-game style. After a few seconds, I remembered the lyrics:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so

Most intersections play the familiar chirping sounds when the light changes, but some of them play songs. One of the songs is Comin’ Through the Rye.

I also heard Yankee Doodle with Japanese lyrics playing from a video screen outside Akihabara station.

  • In Japan you get wet wipes with everything. They’re a bit skimpy with regular napkins, but you’ll always get a wet wipe. In Korea the napkins have the consistency of tissues, but rougher. They’re in boxes at the tables, so you can have as many as you like, but they fall apart when you try to use them.
  • Why do Japanese people live so long? They don’t do anything right. They smoke, they drink, they eat a lot of pastries and don’t exercise and work long hours in stressful jobs. And they outlive everyone on the planet.

Why? Is it all the green tea that they drink? Is it genetics? Is it just a result of counting dead pensioners?

I’m going to start smoking and drinking, just in case.

  • 7-11 is a bank.


UPDATE: My route from start to finish.