When we first got in Japan we noticed how freaking clean Japan is. Almost no cigarettes on the floor, no cans, no nothing. Also no graffiti or markings on bus chairs or anything. I heard that rebelling youth is simply locked up in their room for 6 months to make the point that its not accepted here.
Just like those vending machines that are everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. On each street corner, on stations in dark alleys even in a Shinto temple. The upside is that whenever you are thirsty you can get a drink when you want. It also costs nothing: 80 to 160 yen for normal to fancy drinks. That’s 55 euro cents to 1 euro for a drink you buy at a dutch kiosk (if you can find one in a 3km radius) and you can choose from more options than a normal dutch supermarket has.
Also, on the first night I went out with my camera (EOS 400D) around my neck and in plain sight: nobody cares. We walked through dark alleys and till way late in the evening and nothing happens. In the Netherlands you prolly get mugged in 10 minutes the first time you enter a random alley.
All I can say is that for Japanese the Netherlands would probably be a shocking encounter. And rightfully so, what the heck is going on with us that behavior like that is possible in Holland. With every passing day we encounter more and more of these things.
On another note: the food is pretty crappy. After food poisoning from a local diner we pretty much went to more western food. We get sandwiches in the morning for breakfast, had a western style lunch at NEC C&C (most of it cold as the chef never made it before) and a all-you-can-eat lunch in Nara at some hotel. Also we crashed MacDonalds twice now.
The first time was because we just needed decent food to lose the hunger feeling we had for days (Tuesday night, or barf-day like Roel called it), second time to fix diner in 30 minutes because we wanted some sleep. Tonight (Thursday) we walked to Dojima Hana, a restaurant we found in the Lonely Planet guide. It was a 25 minute walk past Umeda station and the Hilton hotel but the food was great and we finally found a restaurant which served enough food for us for only 2160 Yen per person.
We had misu soup, Japanese cabbage, Japanese tea and some fried oisters, chicken and fish. We ended with a quick stop at the Star Bucks for deserts. Finally we walked back to the hotel where we are now packing our suitcases because tomorrow we will sleep in a real temple. On a mountain. With charcoal heaters. And no internet. Oh dear…