Expectations and Surprises

The vending machines here are great. They have hot drinks as well as cold. Bottles of hot tea are 130 yen (118 yen per USD). The machines are everywhere, but nobody seems to drink anything on the street. I saw one young punk drinking tea on the subway. He must have been some kind of radical. I also saw one Japanese girl eating ice cream while walking down the sidewalk.

I have not figured out what side of the sidewalk to walk on. It’s either chaos or beyond my understanding. There’s less order than I expected. There’s also a lot more English than I expected on signs. There is no garbage anywhere, even between the tracks on the subway. This is the only major city that I’ve ever been in that doesn’t smell like garbage.

There are at least three subway and train companies in Tokyo. Not all of them go everywhere. It’s been a little tough when the station names are only in kanji (Chinese characters), and not in romanji (our Roman characters). One person told me that the Japanese think of romanji as English characters. Young Japanese people have been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction and figuring out my fare. One trick is to buy the cheapest ticket and pay the difference upon exiting.

Pocari Sweat is a good-tasting Gatorade-type of drink. It’s not as sweet as it would be in the states. I got it at the 7/11. Japan seems to do fast food better than we do. 7/11 and “am pm” both have these great rice balls, sushi rice with various flavors, like “pinkish,” “purplish,” and “white with green stringy stuff on top.” Nothing too bad so far.

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