Man, it’s been long overdue, so here goes :
Random Intro Picture
Over the winter break I had the good fortune of going to Japan and Hong Kong with my family. We’ve been there before, but it’s a big place, unlike Singapore, where you can see the whole place (or rather, what we have that others don’t, which isn’t much, anyway) in a few days.
The first thing that struck me in Japan was the complexity of the subway maps. Now, since I go to seoul alot, I’m no stranger to complex subways, but this was something new for me. Not only were there more lines, they were hideously interconnected, which meant that you often had to change lines a few times for only 5 or 7 stops. ]
Not only that, it was shocking to me that in a country like Japan, the subway lines aren’t even universal. There are a few major operators running through central tokyo : JR east (which is really a train company), Todai and Tokyu (if im not mistaken). Fine and dandy, as long as the experience is seamless for the passenger, right? Well, it isn’t. All this adds up to a daily line dance of people running for trains that are never late, getting off every 2 stops, and changing not just lines but even operators.
Not the thing you want to be doing the morning after a long flight. Thank god for kanji, though.
First place we went was Tsukiji, the fabled market for all things seafood. You really didnt think I’d go to tokyo for fashion, did you?
One of a few hundred, Tsukiji, Tokyo
Tsukiji lived up to its billing for all things fresh. The casual tourist might be disappointed to find out, though, that the bulk of the place isn’t really catered to tourists at all. There are sections of the market that are outright restricted, while others may only open after the morning peak period. Make no mistake though, this is the place to get seafood from. Tuna might only come in 30 dollar blocks, but it' will be the best tuna you will ever eat in your life. It is no joke.
Tuna, Tsukiji, Tokyo
One of the more unique sights in Japan is the proprietary shophouse. For essentially the same goods, there can be tens of the same small shops competing amongst each other. it’s the exact antithesis of the american corporation. I think it explains both the quality of japanese goods in general and also why their stuff is so expensive and uncompetitive. Walking around japan, you truly feel that they take pride in what they produce, in contrast to the chinese obsession with plagiarism and undercutting, and the western corporate culture. Unfortunately, with such a thinking, economies of scale go out the window. But in a utopian world, wouldn’t japan be the pinnacle of achievement? Where else in this world can you find seafood fresh enough to eat raw, cars half the price but equal the performance of some european makes, and shops where goods are just left unattended because so little theft goes on? As a society, as a culture, there is little fault to be found with the Japanese.
And day after day, you wish that Singapore didn’t have to enact any laws just so that it can pretend that its people are all as courteous as the japs.