1. I have never thought of Japan as a pretty place.
Interesting, cultured, historically rich - sure.
But in my mind I always pictured a place with unimpressive scenery, fast-walking people who all look alike, streets so packed you couldn't move.
2. I was wrong on all counts. (And pleasantly surprised!)
The country is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. Lush forests, quaint old villages,
tall mountains, vast ocean; it is breathtaking even in November.
Japanese people look as similar to each other as Euro-Americans do. Really. They just have less
choices for hair color so style matters more.
And the streets are not nearly as packed as the train stations. I don't recommend hauling huge
suitcases all over the place. Unless you like bruises.
3. Visiting Japan actually made me miss Europe more. Isn't that strange? All those delicious pastries, art museums, fluffy pillows, Federdeckes, operas, languages I actually understand.... also toilets.
4. I stopped caring about having soap in public bathrooms. Forget about paper towels or hand driers, warm water (or water at all), real toilet paper. It's not going to happen.
5. The bullet train really is as cool as Slice said.
6. I ate tongue, shellfish, and Japanese kimchi all in one meal!
7. Japanese people are much warmer than I expected.
8. I might actually miss those toilet seat warmers.