I spent five weeks exploring Japan, slowly becoming more accustomed to the traditions and etiquette. An intriguing mixture of refined elegance and modern technology (even the toilets have digital displays), I could have easily stayed for twice the time without exhausting the list of places to explore. My last week was spent on the island of Shikoku, where I fulfilled my quest for the ultimate udon in the city of Takamatsu. We returned to Honshu by riding rented bikes (of course there is a system for doing so) 70km over six bridges and a short ferry ride, but that's another story....
"Push button, come people," said the waitress. I stared back at her, a look of confusion on my face. She gestured to the little digital device on the table - essentially a wireless door bell. "Ah! Hai, hai," I said, recognizing how the system worked. And sure enough when I pushed the button, she was there, ready to take my udon order in a matter of seconds.
There is an understood system for everything in Japan. Whether it be the queuing for the train, the separation of trash for recycling, or the process of bathing at an onsen (spa), you can be sure there is a system. As a foreigner, all of this can be quite complicated. But if you don't take yourself too seriously, make the time to be observant, and smile a lot, Japan will slowly reveal itself.
Hiking to the peaks around Mt Fuji and crossing the vine bridges of Iya Valley.
Halloween in Tokyo was a mix of colors, costumes and lights.