Update: 21/04/2016 – I added a bonus section to the end of the article, with some more of the peculiarities that I observed in Tokyo during my two-week stay there.
Monday, 18 April 2016.
Here are a few more peculiar things that I have experienced or seen in Tokyo.
Disclaimer: I might have mentioned some of these before.
In Tokyo, there are not many public bins around. The only ones to be found are next to vending machines or outside of convenience stores but they are mostly only for the recycling of bottles and cans. If you want to dispose of anything else, you will have to carry it along with you, until you happen upon the unicorn of bins, the magical general purpose bin. Keep note of that bin when you find it, it might the last one you see for a while.
Most public restrooms do not have any hand dryers or paper towels. So you invariably end up wiping your hands on your pants, leaving unsightly wet marks, but things could be worse.
The majority of the people of Tokyo are very fashionable and dress very well, in a manner of different and unique styles. The men also seem to be quite concerned about their hair, with the majority of men’s hygiene products in stores consisting of hairsprays, gels, and shampoo.
Chopsticks. You can eat, and do eat, most everything with chopsticks. It’s clean, it’s easy, and oh so efficient. It’s biodegradable too.
Firetrucks are a common sight around Tokyo. There appears to be a lot of fires around these parts, I was recently near one myself in an area called Golden Gai. You notice the firetrucks, not because of their siren, but more because of a loud announcement made, via a loudspeaker, to get out of the way presume, as the fire truck speeds past you.
On trains, mobile phones are the number one distraction, with sleeping coming in at a close second place. People hardly speak to each other on the trains, nor give each other any direct attention, although there are more of the odd stares at foreigners, but this is, of course, a global custom and one that people would experience anywhere else.
As for the vast train line network of Tokyo, after being in Tokyo for about two weeks you should be able to understand and navigate your way around the train lines. And if you are the adventurous kind, you might even be able to take a nap on the train.
Ice coffee is big in Tokyo. Whenever I am at a coffee shop it seems if all the locals order ice coffee. Maybe it cools them down from all of the busyness of Tokyo or perhaps it just tastes better that way. Cold coffee from vending machines and convenience stores also comes up as a peculiarity to me. In South Africa, we also drink ice coffee but people generally buy the hot version more often. Although cold coffee from a can is a foreign idea to me, I am getting used to it.
Man-bags are a common sight in Tokyo. Not the Indiana Jones satchel kind, but the big bags that women generally carry around. The ones with short handles that you carry on your forearm or under your arm, close to your body. This fashion may have originated in Europe, and although not all businessmen use them or men use them, but it is biggish in Japan and a somewhat common sight on the trains and along the streets of Shinjuku and Ginza.