Things I've noticed since coming to regular Japan as opposed to different Japan

Travel ?? Comments Wed 24 December 2014

Tania has informed me that with that one title I've managed to offend not just the people of Okinawa but everyone on mainland Japan as well. But I'm keeping it, because it seems to sum up (at least in my head) the different feel of the two Japans.

  • It is cold. It makes you realise just how far the main islands of Japan are from Okinawa; arriving in Okinawa, I was greeted by 27°C sunny weather (and cursing my decision not to pack shorts). By the time I had left, it was a cool 16°C, and I was already shivering and doubting my ability to survive siberia.

    Then I landed in Hiroshima airport, and had seconds to adjust to a balmy 5°C and patches of snow on the ground. But Hiroshima Airport isn't really in Hiroshima - it's actually on a mountain, on the edge of a cliff, leading to a quite sudden and unexpected landing (oh we're starting to descend... oh crap we're awfully close that cliff- oh wait we've landed) - and after the 1 hour bus ride into Hiroshima proper, the temperature was now a wam 8°C with no snow in sight.

    I'm pretty sure my first thought was, if this is 5°C, no way am I going to survive Siberia. I think I'm slowly acclimatising though, I've gone from wearing a t-shirt, sweater and jacket to just a t-shirt and jacket.

  • I'm in a proper city again! With lights! And nightlife! And public transport! I think I was mostly just pleased that I finally had access to 7-Eleven (ahh, a 24 hour convenience store that lets me actually use their ATM). The density of convenience stores as well - after living for a month where the closest access to civilization was a 20 minute walk to FamilyMart, I was awestruck to find myself in a place where you can have two FamilyMarts across the street from each other.

    Is this paradise, or what! (Since then I've slowly weaned myself off of my FamilyMart dependence, don't judge. 7-Eleven has my heart now).

  • Speaking of public transport, maybe it's just been way too long since I've attempted to use it, but I was really thrown by the Hiroshima tram system; specifically the part where you pay when you get off the tram. I must've spent 5 minutes trying to put my coins in any slightly coin-shaped slot near the entry door, whilst everyone else stared on in bewilderment and/or mesmerised by what they may have thought was a thought-provoking piece of performance art critiquing the privatization of public transport.


    Tram in Hiroshima

  • Also, bike! Bikes everywhere. I think I've forgotten how to react around bikes it's been so long since I've seen one - I literally jumped (no kidding) when the first bike swerved around me (Good heavens! A mechanical beast!). I might see if I can rent one next time I have the chance.

  • The absolute lack of taco rice and goya. Especially taco rice; I've gotten so used to it being the main staple - you could always depend on taco rice being on the menu in Okinawa, regardless whether it actually complemented the rest of the menu.

    Italian restaurant: spaghetti, lasagna, fettuccine, seafood marina, taco rice

    Soba restaurant: pork, pork, pork, pork, pork, taco rice

    Okay, I think you get the idea.

    On the other hand, it's nice to suddenly have such a massive range of food available; a byproduct of this is that there are now so many more cheaper options available outside of fast-food (i.e. 100 Yen sushi trains).

    It doesn't stop me from missing sea grapes ('caviar of the sea', actually so good) and the vast array of sweet potato flavoured snacks (for example, Pocky).


    My last homemade lunch before leaving Okinawa; seared tuna sashimi garnished with sea grapes and soy sauce


    Okinawan sweet potato flavoured Pocky

  • Pork is still used everywhere, although not to the extent of Okinawa. For example, McDonalds sells a crumbed pork (tonkatsu) burger.

  • Unlike Okinawa, where 90% of the cars on the road are kei cars, here it is more like 30-40%. Maybe it's because Okinawa is one of the poorest prefectures (and kei cars are cheaper), or maybe it's just due to the fact that since there is hardly any public transport, those who would own no car in Hiroshima end up settling for a kei car in Okinawa. Regardless of the reason, I'll stop baselessly speculating.

I think that's all for now. I've still got so much of mainland Japan to explore!

Tags: japan okinawa hiroshima