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It’s no secret that I wear Converse all the time, not just converse but Converse Hi-Tops. This proved not to be the best kind of footwear  for a visit to Japan. Whenever we get back to the hotel, all hot and sticky and with aching legs, the first thing I have to do is untie and take off my boots.

When we go out and invariably forget something I have to go back to the room and remove my boots, pick up whatever I returned for and then put my boots back on and lace them up.

There are lots of beautiful temples and shrines to see here too. Of course you don’t get to visit them properly unless you kick off your shoes and traipse around in your socks. (It’s worth it though).

Some of the places we have eaten also require you to follow tradition and take off your shoes before you get to the table and at the end of a day’s walking around in temperatures of 37 degrees my legs have been so knackered that I can barely bend down.  In the first restaurant, having managed to get rid of my shoes we were lead to a table that was only 6 inches off the floor. I initially worried how I would cope sitting cross legged for the duration of the meal but I needn’t have. It turned out that there was a hole beneath the table
to put your legs into. How weird is it to build 2 levels of floor rather than have normal tables and chairs? Every time the waiters brought the food they had to bend down to us. 

The other thing about removing your shoes is that you must put on shoes to go to the loo. In the hotel we are provided with slippers to wear in our room but when you go to the loo you change from your indoor slippers to a special pair of loo slippers. In restaurants the loos have toilet slippers for you to wear too.

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This brings me to the subject of toilets. Japan has the most amazing lavs. Well, they have two types. The first is the public toilet which tends to be a hole in the ground and best avoided. The second type is what people have in their homes and we have in the hotel. These toilets have functions you probably never dreamed of having. To start with they have warm seats. Yes, never get a cold bottom again. You can set the temperature so it suits you perfectly. To the right of you, as you are sitting, is a control panel. The first button directs a warm jet of water directly at your exit door with amazing accuracy. The second
button is just for the ladies and directs a second jet of water slightly further forward (I found this out through experimentation). We found that in the department stores their toilets also let you pick a tune to listen to while you sit and we heard that some also have a warm air blower to dry you off  afterwards. When you flush the loo the tap that sits in the inbuilt sink on top of the cistern starts to run warm water to you can wash your hands without even needing to touch a tap.  In toilets, like in everything else we Brits, were there in the early days of its invention but the rest of the word has left us behind (no pun intended).

While writing this another thing comes to mind:  The Japanese like to be low to the ground. Their futon beds are basically a couple of duvets on the floor. Their tables are not as high as most coffee tables and the chairs have no legs. You don’t see many benches in the streets or railway stations either as the locals are quite happy to squat. 


More from my travels soon.

 
 
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So I have come to Japan for the first time ever. It’s different
from anywhere else I have ever been and it’s fabulous. I sat and tried to blog about all I have seen and done in the last 3 days but there were so many images and thoughts struggling for supremacy in my head that my first draft was a rambling mess and had to be rewritten.

 This place is so wild and lively whilst at the same time being
tame and well behaved that it’s hard to describe. I will try, over the next few
posts to describe it so far.


 
 
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A while back I had a 4.00am start so I planned on getting to bed early.  As usual that didn’t go to plan because time ran away with me so I ended up getting to bed sometime after 11.00pm. Since getting an i-Phone part of my routine is to set my alarm on it and then to have a final check of Twitter to see if anyone is talking about me when I am not there.

 

What I saw that night was a Tweet that said:
“Nooo!!!! Dreamcatcher cannot be on a list of 50 worst films ever!!! > :(  http://ow.ly/13aWV   I simply won't allow it...”

Now, I love films but I adore lists so I obviously had to click the link and have a look. Yes Dreamcatcher was in at 18 so I wanted to see what was worse than that hideous movie. Now remember, I was doing this on an i-Phone so each page is tiny and I have to zoom in just to be able to move to the next page. An hour later I had gone from 18 all the way to the No. 1 worst movie of all time, reading the reviews and comments for each one. At about half past midnight I had to have a severe word with myself, as I so often do, and put the i-Phone down to catch a niggardly amount of sleep before my early start.

The next day I realised that I have a problem. I’m addicted to lists.

You know you get those programmes on TV, Top 50 Romantic Films, Top 100 Christmas Songs, Top 100 Children’s TV Shows, Top 100 Comedians of All Time etc? Well, if I happen upon  one of these shows I'm there until the end. I want to know what is number 1. (I also want to hear what Andrew Collins has to say, because, let’s face it, he comments in most of them.) It’s the same on the web or in magazines: Top 100 Gadgets for Christmas, Top 50 i-Phone Apps, top 50 Massage Parlours in Essex (only joking about that one). I can’t help it I devour them. I don’t know what it is about lists that get me so involved. They are just other people’s opinions and quite often I don’t agree with what’s in them but I just can’t put them aside.

I have heard people say that it is a male preoccupation, which would be nice because I don’t have many other male traits – I don’t love cars or football and my plastering abilities are shocking. So is it a man thing? The Nick Hornby book (and John Cusack movie) Hi Fidelity, which is great, seems to imply it’s very much a man thing and it’s a film all about a chap who annotates his life in lists, Top 5 Movies, Top 5 Break Ups, Top 5 Bands or Musicians Who Will Have To Be Shot Come the Musical Revolution (true, that is in the book).

If it is a man thing does it go along with putting your books and CDs in alphabetical order. That’s something else I do and I know other men who do it but I don’t think women do.

I realised as I was writing this that the tweet took me to number 18 in the list of Top 50 Worst Movies and I followed it to number 1 (Batman and Robin if you must know), but I didn’t get chance to go the other way, up the list from 19 to 50 so this is where this blog ends as I have an addiction to feed.