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Saturday, April 16, 2016

2016 JAPAN SAKURA ADVENTURE: Day 21: A Few things about Japan

My three week trip to Japan featured Sakura, Sake, Sochu, Sapporo, Sendai and Shikoku.  The Panda tour was limited to Shikoku Island and Kansai, but no Kyoto:   
  • I generally avoid these groups because there is a lot dead time and I hate to get up early in the morning to catch the bus.  
  • However, that said, there were enough positives for me to say that I generally enjoyed much of those eight days.  
  • The hotels were better than expected.
  • The ethnic mix was almost exactly the same as at 15 Craigside.
  • We certainly had our fill of cherry blossoms, for I easily saw more of these trees than the sum total of my entire life of Sakura chasing.  To the right is Daisho-in Temple on Miyajima.
  • Very few people on Shikoku speak English.
  • The Towel Museum of Ichihiro was a pleasant surprise.
  • Wherever you go, watch out for bicycles.  They are very dangerous, for they are quiet and  come from everywhere.
    • There are nearly 72 million bicycles in Japan.
    • Cyclists cause more than 100,000 accidents each year. 
    • However, it was worse in 2004 when there were nearly 200,000 accidents, with 870 deaths.
    • Laws have been strengthened.
    • In January 2014, the Tokyo District Court ordered a male cyclist to pay ¥47 million in damages to the family of an elderly pedestrian he hit and killed after running a red light.
  • They drive on the left side here, so be careful about crossing the street.  Japanese car drivers are supposed to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, but people nevertheless are very cautious.  Why they drive on the left has nothing to do with Great Britain.  Samurai ruled the country and walked on the left to better be able to draw their sword.  Only around 25% of the world drives on the left side:
  • People in Osaka (and those living West of this city) stand on escalators to the RIGHT, and pass you on the LEFT, unlike Tokyo and parts east and north, where they stand on the left and walk on the right.  This rule tends to also apply to walking on sidewalks.
  • Kanto is the whole Tokyo metropolitan area, while Kansai includes Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe.
  • Toyoko Inns and REI (Tokyo Group) hotels provide no English newspapers and their TV sets do not offer the bilingual option.  In the future I will select REI over Toyoko Inn.  The Tokyo Westin provides four English newspapers/day and thee are many English-sound channels.
  • I like riding on trains, for they are:
    • relaxing
    • safe
    • don't need to wear seat belts
    • great for bentos and beer on long trips
  • However:
    • don't fall asleep if you're supposed to get off at a station before reaching the end of the line
    • I've always thought that the vibrations from subways like BART (San Francisco) gave out Alpha Waves (8-13.9 HZ) to make you sleepy
    • there is stress on making this transfer, and the timing involved
    • for males, hard to pee when the train is moving about
    • walking can be dangerous, especially on narrow gauge track lines like the Eastern Orient Express from Singapore to Chiang Mai
  • Airline travel is safer in terms of distance traveled.  On average, you can fly every day for 123,000 years before dying in a plane crash. Also, you can fall asleep, for someone will wake you up when the plane lands.  However, avoid motorcycles.  Also, foot travel is the second most dangerous.  Bicycles are not safe.
Deaths
Typeper bn journeysper bn hoursper bn km
Bus4.311.10.4
Rail20300.6
Van20601.2
Car401303.1
Foot4022054.2
Water90502.6
Air11730.80.05
Pedal cycle17055044.6
Motorcycle16404840108.9

More than anything else, of course, is good health.  I would like to thank my body for taking care of me.  I was able to sleep well almost every night  One night I only got 5 hours, but that was because I had very little to do the next day.  The odds are high now that I'll get back to Honolulu, for according to the above statistics, I need to fly for another million years or so when the probability of a plane crash will loom.  

Well, I'm in ANA's lounge and it is like new and well designed.  Comparing the United Club in Hawaii and ANA Lounge in Haneda is like the Toyoko Inns versus the Tokyo Westin.  My first course:


I then noticed a section with four kinds of sake:


So I had course #2:


See you back in Honolulu.

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