Japanese Moments
Japan, © 22.Jun.2003 gM
Photos of Japan
Introduction to Japan
Japanese Moments
Meat Therapy
As fresh as it can be
As fresh as it can be / © gM
We call it the Fireworks Flower
We call it the Fireworks Flower / © gM
We are dizzy. I cannot believe it, but we are! After many months of traveling at average speeds of more or less 30km/h, watching the cities and landscapes zoom by from within the train from Kansai airport to Kanazawa is too much for us. We adjust though, looking at the blurry scenery becomes bearable, and my brief moment of dizziness vanishes. Perhaps I was already weakened from an earlier moment when the entirety of our usual weekly budget was obliterated by the purchase of our four hour train tickets. Signage is clear and trains leave on time, so that the ticket agent can confidently, without any second thought and rightly so, sell us tickets for a train leaving in three minutes and requiring a few minutes connection in Osaka. Payphones, vending machines, cleanliness, orderly traffic, no hagglers or hustlers - at first we feel out of place being back in a fully industrialized country, but along with the dizziness this sensation also disappears.

Kanazawa shatters my expectations of overcrowded concrete jungles. We are in for a treat. It is not just experiencing a foreign and unknown-to-us country, with all the new and to-be-expected impressions while wandering through its cities and shopping malls, visiting its museums and gardens, and trying to make sense of a lunch menu. Small details, observed in an instant, make our day, reflecting the highly organized and detail-oriented Japanese society.

Jizo is the guardian of children and travelers
Kanazawa is the gold-leaf capital of Japan
Jizō (left) is the guardian of children and travelers and Kanazawa (right) is the gold-leaf capital of Japan / © gM
At a bank in Kanazawa, we notice three prescription glasses in different colors and of different strengths at the counter with all the forms for those who need a little help when filling out forms. On the train, we watch passengers swirl around benches 180° to form groups of four seats or to adjust to a changed direction of travel. Water conserving toilets have built-in sinks at the top of the water tank. When flushing, water for washing one's hands automatically comes out of the spout at the top before being collected in the water tank for the next flush. I cannot wait until such thoughtful, environmentally friendly engineering sets the standard for the entire industrialized world. Not once during our stay do we see a waitress without an electronic handheld device to take orders. At a sushi bar, not only does each table have its own hot water tap for green tea, but each color-coded plate also has a chip embedded in its base. At the end of a meal, the waitress simply moves a reader over the plates and the bill is printed on one of the small printers located next to every second table. Food in general is always wonderful whether it be sushi or yakiniku (do-it-yourself at-the-table BBQ with meats and vegetables) or okonomiyaki (thick pancake filled with whatever you like and prepared by yourself at a table with a hot plate) or mochi (rice cakes) for desert or a simple lunch at a curry house.

At the end of our visit, we know that we have only scratched the surface of a fascinating country and hope that one day we will have enough money in the bank to see more of Japan.

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