If I had to pick a favourite country, Japan would be it. With that being said, I’ll proceed with an obviously unbiased account of my trips there. Japan to the average person is mainly known for anime and sashimi, but let me tell you this: I don’t watch anime and I am averse to raw fish. So how is Japan my favourite country if I don’t indulge in these two things? Well, it’s their impeccable attention to detail that I find fascinating.
I challenge you to find another Asian country that takes design and aesthetics more seriously than Japan. In Japan, it seems like no expense has been spared in making things look good and working efficiently. Traffic light consoles, directional signs, and even trashcans are well-made. This attention to detail is most apparent when you use their subway systems. You’ll find that trains arrive on time, down to the exact minute. Ah, the trains. You can get to almost any town by rail in Japan. I liken the train rides to a flipbook, where the towns are pages that dance as you skim through time.
We now skip ahead into Fujinomiya. Upon arriving, you’ll notice how huge Mt. Fuji is. The whole town is sitting upon the gentle slopes of the volcano! It’s a sleepy town, with antique markets in random places. There is a lot to see, but these places are mostly located just outside of town, so it’s good if you could get a car to get around. There are a few lakes one could drive to from Fujinomiya and I managed to catch a sunrise at one of them, in Lake Tanuki. The spring air was chilly, and puddles on the ground were frozen solid. I wish I had a hot cup of green tea then.
Okay, back to my point about aesthetics. People in Japan, no matter which town or city, dress really well. Even the simplest of outfits look complete. Their houses have furniture that matches. The kids have well-designed school uniforms. Their dogs have bow ties. It seems that design is a way of life here, even if they don’t consciously think about it. I stayed in Ebisu the last time I was in Tokyo, and it’s a neighborhood that you should check out. There are cafes every few paces, and they serve really good coffee too. It’s an escape from the busy streets of Shibuya and Harajuku. With great aesthetics come great photo opportunities. You could go anywhere and take nice photos, trust me.
When you’re not on the rails, you should be on foot as much as possible to experience the subtle intricacies that the cities have to offer. Go off the beaten track. I’ve discovered a lot of cool things this way. These small streets in between towns and cities hold so much treasure and mystery. I consider it to be an essential part of travel here.The next time you’re in Japan, I urge you to look at all the details. Scrutinize that label on the t-shirt you’re eyeing. Observe the structure of the roads when you’re on a bridge. Take note of the stickers along the streets. You’ll then see another dimension living within the land of the rising sun.
Words & Photography by Amizyo Hairie