Friday, July 29, 2016

I'm back from Japan! ♡

Hello everyone! Better start writing when it's still fresh on my mind, because I don't want to forget all the feelings, impressions and memories of Japan! And I really, really miss Japan, it's been four days I left, but I missed home too, Home and I are still on our Honeymoon period which shouldn't last too long.
There will be travel diaries, with pictures, and detailed description of places we visited and hauls, etc, but today it's my writing only, keep that in my mind and skip this post if reading a lot it's not your thing.
Today I'll tell you a little story of how I became an all-things-Japanese lover, a bit of how we planned our trip and a few of my impressions about Japan. I must warn you though: I am not biased and I won't sugarcoat anything, I will compare Japan and Japanese people to what I'm used too, which is Brazil and Brazilian people, and I will both praise and criticize Japan based on my experience there, not only on this post but on next ones too, we will get to that later.

First things first: how I came to love Japan so much?
I think it all started when I was about 8 years old, one day my great grandfather gave me two old books, they were from the same collection, one was about the Soviet Union and the other about Japan, I never red any of them, they were in English (which I only began to understand well as a teenager) but they were full of pictures. As I flipped trough the pages I didn't care much about Soviet Union but Japan got me mesmerized by their capsule hotels featured in the book, I thought that was simply amazing, on a different page I could see pictures of traditional bento boxes and how to wrap them in beautiful Japanese fabric, I thought Japan was so cool and I would look through the book all the time, I was a very artsy, creative child and the book became one of my sources of inspiration.
As most Brazilian 90's kids I grew up watching Sailor Moon, Card Captor Sakura and every single episode of Dragon Ball and Pokemon so you could say that was influential too but I disagree, the anime I've watched during my life doesn't make me even close to an anime fan, as I found out visiting Akihabara.
My mom and dad spent most years of my life working with Japanese people, my mom worked six years at São Paulo's Japanese town, called Liberdade, every week she would bring home the cutest Japanese imports, mostly candy and stationery and we would often shop at Sanrio (back when they had their amazing stores with real merchandising from Japan). So yes, I'm not new to kawaii, every since I was a kid I had cute things, my mom would buy me the cutest stationery for school and we always had Japanese candy in our house, specially Kasugai's melon and lychee hard candy.
My dad however, had a much more intense involvement with Japanese culture, he worked over 30 years of his life with Japanese people, most of his partners were Japanese, many of his clients were Japanese, he studied and worked at a Japanese academy, early on his career, he's a hair stylist by the way. He always exposed me and my brother to Japanese culture, specially food, which we began to like at a very early age.
However when I was about 13 I made my first Korean friend, when I started high school half of my friends were Korean and at age 15 I started learning the language, at age 19 I began to like K-pop, which lasted about 3 years, thank God, the K-pop era came to it's end in my life. I would say that from my early teens to age 21, Korean culture influenced me more than the Japanese one, even if my love for Japan was still there it wasn't until this year I started learning the language, etc.
What boosted my love for Japan was definitely Sanrio, Studio Ghibli and later on, Lolita. After Lolita everything became about Japan and Japanese brands and Japanese fashion! I had always dreamed of visiting Japan but then I also had the dream of visiting Lolita shops, trying on dresses, browsing for items myself, I think every lolita would want that and I was no exception.
Me and my boyfriend were thinking about this trip since last year, but it was only last January that we took the first step and bought the tickets. Oh my God! It was happening! We were going to Japan! It's was all planning from that moment, booking hotels, deciding which places to visit, we put so much effort, I did so much research that Japan became ridiculously familiar, people would come up to me and suggest me places to go but I already knew everything, my boyfriend went there two years ago too so he was no stranger to the country.
We took step by step and when there were about two months left for the trip all we could do was wait, and wait, and wait, I'd count the days, it makes me feel bad that I spent half of this year waiting for Japan, working towards Japan and obsessing about that, but I couldn't help it.
The day finally came, I was going to spend 28 days in Japan. And I did, and like all things in life it had amazing moments and sad moments, I lived all kinds of emotions, from utter excitement to deep sadness, I tried to seize every moment and absorb every little aspect but sometimes I'd get homesick too. I saw the good and the bad, and it's was perfect on it's imperfection, everything happened the way it was meant to be.
Too much rambling already, I should stop this post now but I want the next one to be a fun travel diary with pictures and such so let's cut to the chase and get over with the rant.

Some aspects of Japan I had already expected, some of them were surprising to me. If you are a biased white-knight to Japan I'd advise you to leave, there will be criticism. I'll comment based on my experience, my opinions are not universal truths okay? So let's start with the good things!

Positive aspects of Japan (expected or surprising):

- I felt really safe there, I never worried about being robbed and such, in Brazil you always have to keep an eye and often that doesn't keep you from being mugged, Japan was totally chill, people would walk with their phones in hand without any worries.
- Public transportation will get you anywhere, although the subway trains in São Paulo are newer, Japan has more lines, way more lines and I think that's great! The buses are better there too because all of them have air conditioner.
- Japan has so many options of everything, you can buy all that cool stuff, Brazil is just as expensive or even more expensive and the options are so limited. In Japan you find cute stuff everywhere, that was so satisfying.
- You can also eat a delicious meal at a very reasonable price in Japan, props to them!
- Japanese streets are not as clean as I expected, some people do litter in Japan, but they are still better kept than here so I need to acknowledge that. Both public and private were better kept than here, vandalization was rare to none.
- Nothing we have in Brazil can compare to Japanese theme parks such as Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios, our amusement parks are a joke.
- I love Japanese kombinis and how easily they can be found.
- A few buses we were waiting to catch did arrive late, but generally, Japan is way more punctual than Brazil, it's even unfair to compare because the difference is so huge.
- Given their choice of idols I didn't think there would be many attractive men in Japan, I was dead wrong. Being monogamous that didn't matter much to me but if you are single, traveling to Japan and Asian men are your type you will find some eye candy there.

Neutral aspects of Japan:

- I admire the ability Japanase women have to walk in heels, I'd see girls wearing heels at theme parks and I could barely keep up with the pain of wearing Converse.
- Even if you, Western girl, is prettier then a certain Japanese girl she probably can pull-off any J-Fashion better than you. Japanese lolitas look better than us, in my opinion, and it's not because they coord better, God no, it's simply because it looks right on them in a way that never will on us. Deal with that.
- Don't you go and think that just because you are shopping in person there you will find a bunch of wishlist items, you should find some, naturally, but I left Closet Child empty-handed too many times for someone who had only two years of collecting Lolita pieces. That's a negative aspect but since it's no one's fault I'll leave it with the neutrals.
- Sometimes, a very influential J-fashion brand is only a tiny little shop in the middle of nowhere, for example, Katie and Cerise. I don't find that particularly bad but quite surprising.

Now brace yourselves for the bad things. If you don't agree with something, if you "went to Japan and none of this happened" or "lived my whole life there and never saw such thing" good for you! Don't discredit my experience because I've seen with my own eyes.

Negative aspects of Japan:

- I'll start with the one that I was most shocked about because it was completely unexpected: people won't offer their seats to elders and sometimes even handicapped at public transportation. I've seen it too many times to be only a sad coincidence, it's not, it's a thing, specially in Tokyo, pardon my choice of words but people there don't give a damn! Healthy, young people will seat on preferential, play with their phones, have a 100 years old lady standing in front of them and do fucking nothing about it, when it was me who had a seat I would offer to an old person and they would be so thankfully surprised like this is not a thing they are used too. But the last straw was when we were at the train, Toyoko line in Tokyo, a guys gets in the train, using crutches, leg broken with a cast and no one offers a fucking seat to the man! I couldn't offer my seat because I was standing too but as soon someone got up to their destination I warned the man there was a free seat and he was incredibly thankful, I was outraged, see, I am not exceptionally polite, here in São Paulo this is common sense! If you seat on preferential everyone will give you the stinky eye, letting elders and such standing is a big no-no here.
- This one was not a surprise, I expected it but it was still extremely annoying. Japanese people don't speak English. But I'll get in detail: most Japanese people don't speak English, most Japanese people don't care, most Japanese people could speak English if they cared to step out of their bubble. It's a freaking 1st world country what's your excuse???? It's one thing to go to Latin America and people won't speak English, it's one thing to go to Japan's country side and people won't speak English, it's one thing to try asking something in English to a 80 years janitor and he won't get you. But it's inexcusable that in a first world country such as Japan, young, perfectly capable people, won't at leat speak some English, I'm not asking your for fluency but at least some English! Gurl, it's not my first language either, I'm not expecting to go there and have people to know some Portuguese, but English is universal and for a country that receives so many tourists they should step up their game. Speaking only one language when you can afford to learn one more is so mediocre, it pisses me off. I only started learning Japanese this year and what I knew was sometimes enough to get me by, but whenever I needed to ask something a little more complicated many Japanese people wouldn't even try to help me and instantly say "Japanese onry".
- Japanese shop girls can be incredibly rude, I got mistreated way too many times, I'll make sure to tell you about every experience I had on my next posts.
- In Brazil there's almost always a way, in Japan almost always things are the way they are, I found them to be very robotic and close-minded (which Brazilians are sometimes too, but here there is more flexibility).
- Japanese summer is hot and sticky, of course I'm used to the heat, but it's a different kind of hot there, Brazil has this burning sun that melts your brain and Japan has this moist unbearable heat that resembles a sauna and makes you feel very gross, but that's no ones fault.
- Apparently in Japan sidewalks are not a thing unless it's a big avenue or something, so you constantly have to worry about not getting ran over by a car or bike, it sucks.
- I feel sorry for some Japanese woman, they need more feminism in their lives but some Brazilian woman seem pretty lost too.
I won't tell you about the rest, I'll keep it to myself because it's not nice and I wouldn't like to read a post where foreign people bash my country, it's disrespectful as hell and there's no such a thing as a perfect country anyways, mine certainly isn't! Even though there were bad things I'm really grateful for the time I had in Japan and although I wouldn't permanently move there I wish to visit many times if I have the chance.

Next post will be the start of my travel diaries!

Thank you for reading ♡