Kawaii (“lovable”, “cute”, or “adorable”) is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture. It has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior, and mannerisms.
The word “kawaii” originally derives from a “radiant face”, but more commonly referred to the blushing of an embarrassed person. Over time, the meaning changed into the modern meaning of “cute”. – wikipedia
Orderly, politeness, precision and kawaii are important values in the Japanese culture. The neatly assembled Japanese gardens, the art of folding the most beautiful origami and making Michelin star worthy sushi, are just a few examples. Watch Jiro dreams of sushi and get an idea of this part of the Japanese culture. We arrive in Japan in the middle of the night but I am wide awake, just as the rest of the city. Full of energy of the idea of finally being in Tokyo! A city with a passion for everything new and on the other hand –to my opinion- a very interesting, mysterious, traditional culture.
In Tokyo the streets are spotless but there is no dustbin to be seen. Everyone takes his own garbage back home. In Beijing and Shanghai people wore mouth caps against the smog, in Japan you wear a mouth cap when you have a cold to prevent infecting other people. When a traffic light is red everyone waits, even if there are no cars coming as far as you can see. Being used to the chaotic traffic in China we need a little time to get used to this. Japanese people are very friendly en helpful. When we ask people on the streets for directions they happily walk with us for three miles to show where we exactly need to be. Tipping is considered rude, bowing and show gratitude you can’t do enough. For the subway everyone waits decently in line in the indicated waiting sections drawn on the floor. During rush hour it is so busy, that subway staff are present to stuff everyone who want to get on the ride neatly in. Smoking is prohibited on the streets but is allowed in restaurants. The majority of the employees in Tokyo work overtime, eat quickly in a standing sushi bar and sleep in the subway to and from home.
Tokyo and the surrounding agglomeration is with more then 30 million people the biggest metropolis in the world. Everything you want and don’t want you can find in this capital. I am constantly surprised by this vibrating city with more Michelin stars then any other city in the world. Cafes to pet owls, a robot restaurant, hundreds of game arcades open 24/7, Shinto temples, a district with the smallest bars in the world, the Tokyo (Eifel) Tower, the busiest crossing in the world, futuristic architecture, Harajuku girls with pink dyed hair en huge innocent blue eyes from the fake lenses and traditional tea ceremonies from geisha’s.
Just like the Japanese we love to snack and it is daily entertainment. On local food markets we often wonder if the product we see is food or Christmas decoration. Shimbashi is a district full with small, traditional, reasonable priced bars and restaurants. We had a lot of fun with locals and eat the best sushi ever. Unfortunately we were not able to find the sushi bar a second time, typically. Next to trying all the great classics, we try a lot of weird (sometimes) successful new food and drinks; a matcha latte, melon bread (our favourite!), kaiseki, green tea chocolate, green tea jelly with peanut powder (very dry mouth), rice flaps with red bean paste, dough balls with sweet syrup, octopus dough balls with unspecified brown sauce, Japanese pancakes etc. etc. Majority of the snack is not really healthy, even though Japanese have the highest life expectancy. Main reason for this is supposedly eating a lot of raw fish, vegetables, soy products, green tea and smaller portions – eating snacks-.
Our visit to Tokyo felt like one long rush. Tokyo is ten cities in one and six days is not nearly enough to do everything we want. I am definitely coming back for another visit.