Updated: Sep 24, 2019
From the sublime Cat Cafes, where £2 gets you 10 mins with some moggies, to the Kawaii Monster Cafe, where burlesque dancers cuddle up with giant furry muppets; from the ancient temples of Kyoto to the extreme fashionistas of Harajuku, Tokyo; from the inspirational Teamlab Borderless interactive art gallery where I lost 3 hours to swimming with turtles on the tropical island of Zamami; from the sumptuous food to the deep spiritual undertones. The UK just can't compare to Japan.
But having now had time to digest my recent trip, here are the three things I loved the most.
Like any responsible parent, I always tell my daughters that no matter where they are, always be aware of what is going on around you - you know, basic life skill stuff. But in Japan I felt you could really, truly relax, safe in the knowledge that people meant you no harm.
Could everyone currently engaged in service industries in the UK please teleport to Japan and do a fast-track course on 'How the Japanese do service". Each interaction I had with a waitress, train station employee, airline check in clerk, shop assistant, hotel receptionist, guest house owner, museum official, policeman or bus driver was flawless. They couldn't have been more helpful. If they couldn't speak english, they went to find someone who could, or whipped out a translate app on their phone. Nothing was ever too much trouble. Each conversation ended with a smile and a bow. How have things gone so awry in the UK? Why is true service and dedication to one's job deemed "below" most people?
3. Everything worked:
Everything. I mean absolutely everything. Every bus, bullet train or subway left on time. My ferry reservation (#12) was there waiting for me on arrival at the dock, the air b'n'b was without a hitch. Every meal was delicious, every bathroom was spotless, every taxi had a feather duster in the boot ( no really)... It was the zenith of efficiency.
When can I return?