I have just got back from a trip to Tokyo, it was my first trip to Japan. A culture and country I wanted to experience for a very long time and it didn’t disappoint.
Landing in the early morning into any country is disorientating, landing into Japan is like being teleported into a space where you have no idea which way is up. The first hurdle of getting a soya matcha revealed something I noticed the entire trip. The careful labelling of non-diary milk and a label to hand as you receive your drink, was just the start of experiencing the care and notices of Japan. As I left the airport the ‘thank you’ label on my bottle of water I purchased was another sign of those little touches that would be my experience the entire trip.
Notices are something that I began to realise were all around me, from the lift to the wall messages about not smoking. Over the days these signs became more and more important. The guided my way, assured me and enabled me to navigate through my first journey there.
My hotel bathroom door on day one caused a really interesting mental model fracture. After working out it opened in reverse to what I expected, I continued to take a while to not make the mistake, walking into the door a few times. This continued for a few days. It was a small thing but one my brain just couldn’t get over. Whilst a door opening towards me is hardly a new thing, I recalled my house inside doors don’t do that and as a result the experience of this fractured my mental model. Somewhat this was due to tiredness but it was interesting to experience.
As I explored my hotel room I noticed the washing machine. Unlike ones in the UK, there were no icons everywhere. Initially I was taken aback by this, however why would there be icons when the language was enough.
The pillows in the hotel were also a refreshing change from clouds of air that you usually get. They were hard, similar to the ones you can get for neck support. Rather than having enough pillows for a pillow fort, the bed was simple, 2 minimal pillows, a blanket and sheet – all you needed for Tokyo in September.