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After having visited more than 100 countries, you would think I couldn’t be surprised anymore. Yet Japan managed to surprise me, every single day.
I felt like ‘Esther in Wonderland’ in a world I did not understand. The culture was different and people seemed to be a bit shy at first. But the strangest thing was not understanding even the basics of the language. I speak 6 or 7 languages and am accustomed to quickly picking up similarities. I might not understand everything in a new country, but I never feel lost. Until I got to Japan. #lostintranslation became a hashtag to post weird situations I ended up in.

Not being able to read, I could not even identify if a building was a shop, an office, a restaurant, a police station a bar or a garbage collection station… I learned to give into this feeling of being a complete beginner again, and I actually liked it! When do you ever get that ‘like a virgin’ feeling again? Not knowing what things mean (both language and culture) and having to ask help with every single thing. I thought Japanese people would be ‘closed’ and distant, but found them to be extremely open, helpful, funny, have personality after an initial shyness. I loved the cleanliness of the country, the fact that everything is extremely organized, and it’s extremely safe. Oh, and did I mention the food???

Lost in translation

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

Three examples of how ordinary things (such as buying groceries in a supermarket, finding a shower and flushing a toilet) can become ‘adventures’ when you don’t speak the language…. Next in line, please Even going to the supermarket is an adventure in Japan. Not only to see all different kinds of food displayed (most [...]

Tiny living

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

I first stayed in a tiny Airbnb apartment in Bunkyo, a very local area in Tokyo. No more than 14m2, but it has everything, including a mini kitchen with a mini washing machine and a cozy bathroom with a mini bathtub! I had to squeeze myself to the wall to take the picture. It [...]

Tokyo street impressions

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

Japanese people live in tiny apartments because there is so little space and so many people… Check out these videos of a subway station and a busy intersection: The people in the subway station are trying to get home, I was trying to get to a dinner with friends. These 17 seconds of Tokyo [...]

Work with a view

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

People work really hard in Tokyo. Many times I saw passengers on the metro falling asleep, some even while standing. I prefer to take it easy, have a good nights sleep and then pick a beautiful work spot to get some things done. My favorite work spots in Tokyo have huge windows with amazing [...]

Skiing in Yuzawa (Niigata)

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

Just 160km from Tokyo (one hour by shinkansen bullet train) and you're in a different world. Mountains, villages without the facilities of the big city and lots of snow. Most Japanese people work so hard that they can only go skiing for one day. Weekends are most busy of course. I went during the [...]

Kyoto

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

My first impression of Kyoto is even better than Tokyo: the old town is almost like a village, with beautiful old wooden houses and temples and great tiny local restaurants. I stayed at a simple, very conveniently located Airbnb apartment. Walking distance from public transport and the famous Gion old part of town. I [...]

Only in Japan

April 20th, 2017|Japan|

Disney, Snoopy, dinosaurs... Japanese adults seem to have a weird liking for children's cartoons. I am getting sooo many compliments on the Hello Kitty socks I got from my Airbnb host! Nobody seems to have second thoughts about an adult wearing these. And what about the 'motivational' poster saying Mickey Mouse is the natural [...]