I'm back ... for almost two weeks already. Getting used again to bad weather (today's a very foggy and cold day in Dublin), working and all the other things of daily life. Japan was fantastic. I'll be careful to not sound like your average "everything's better in Japan" idiot, but admittedly, there were some things there I really liked.
One of the first things I noticed was that a rule about escalators I really like is actually enforced over there. Wherever I've been so far escalators are always full of people who don't understand how stairs work; they think the fact that the escalator goes up means they can just put their lazy feet on it and wait (forgetting that for lazy people we already invented elevators :-P). Many civilizations have tried introducing a "stand still on the left, walk on the right" rule, but Japan's the only place where I've seen people all obeying it.
Getting around there indeed turned out to be challenging at times. Even though people (at least from "my generation") learn English for about ten years at school, many people still don't or hardly speak it. This was never really a problem though. Menus in restaurants have pictures and pointing at things is the most successful international language ever invented. :-) One of the first days I had sushi in a place just a few steps away from my hotel in Tokyo
. While eating my meal, the man behind the bar (probably also the owner of the place) came to me with a map, asking me to point at where I come from. Also, the little origami bird he folded for me from my chopsticks wrapper is still sitting on my desk here. :-D
The ramen place I went to for breakfast one of the first days was also amazing. Not so much because of the food (which was also good), but because of the size. Literally, it was a room of maybe just over 2m wide, about 10m deep, with a bar separating it into two small 10m × something areas. Two people working on one side, and ten seats on the other (all occupied, most of the time).
My camera claims I made over 700 pictures there. Obviously there are many duplicates and worthless pictures, and after soring there will probably only be around 100 left. I hope to put them online soon, and probably with some more stories. I wrote too much now already.
All I know is that I'm definitely going there again.