I'll say this about Japan-everything everyone has ever said was right. I did think it would all be somehow magical which of course it isn't cause all big cities are basically big cities, but once I realised this- i.e. it wasn't magic, but something real I could interact with, I saw just how great it was.
We're not the first people to say we'd move there in an instant so we'll get into the imaginary line for the imaginary line. Here are our (mostly mine) reasons why:
2. Supercute and pretty everything - this is a society that knows what it's doing. By the end I was almost needing it to stop because it was just too overwhelming.
3. People are nice, super nice - in the time we were there we were taken out for dinner, given various presents from various strangers and shown around Kyoto by a Chako our volunteer guide (who's 60-something and outdid us).
4. Riding bikes - riding bikes is awesome everywhere, but because everyone does it and you're allowed to park them anywhere without them being stolen, it's so much cooler. On the first day we went on the Tokyo Bicycle Tour and it was totally worth it to get our head around the city. In Kyoto I stacked it, landed on my face, cried, and was bleeding, but it was still AWESOME (though obviously not at the time or the few days after).
5. Considered everything - this is especially exciting after living in Vietnam where it sometimes feels like nothing is ever thought about. Examples include, music in the toilets, the fact you can update your train ticket in case you go to a further station, amazing merchandising and this amazing umbrella rack that locks them up!
6. Pride - this is something that really stood out for me, and it's just my impression and may be different from a Japanese point of view, but felt like everyone had an element pride in what they were doing and wanted to do it well. For example, Johnny was looking for something in the chemist a a girl didn't leave his side until he'd found what he needed, and these old guys checking no-one is smoking are totally owning it. Anyone else feel or notice this?
7. Food - what is there to say? NOM NOM NOM. We were also lucky enough to go to my cousin's husband's family 30+ year old restaurant - one of those super intimidating places we wouldn't have dared to otherwise and ate the best food we had in Japan. Let me know if you go and I will arrange it for you!
8. Small bars - in Tokyo we stayed in Shinjuku right near the alleys and alleys of the Golden Gai small bars (apparently over 200)- some which fit only 5 or 6 people. I've never seen Johnny so excited, ever.
9. Shopping - I thought I was over shopping until I got to Japan. It got overwhelming. Not so overwhelming of course to stop me buying a rabbit onsie or maid outfit.
10. Public transport - even though we may have gotten lost on the train more than a few times, the fact that the system covers so many areas is amazing. Other than that it's pretty easy to use and cheap compared to Cityrail!
In case you were wondering here's what we did: