The trees, which are unlike any I’ve seen before. Cheese bread from Antendo bakery. They’re bowls of bread filled with cheese and garlic, and cost 389 yen, or US$3.75. (Rubik’s cube for scale.)
Uniquely beautiful and strange use of the English language.
Built-in tableside taps that dispense hot water for unlimited green tea.
This delicious savory crepe.
The sight of herons by the river.
This beauty brand, which shares my (clearly exotic and glamorous-sounding) name.
The onsen, aka hot springs.
One night, I lounged in one of those wooden bathtubs (pictured under the trees at center), watching the moon rise, and for one blissful moment felt perfectly at peace with the world.
Forest Library Bar, which serves excellent sangria in a quiet, book-filled atmosphere.
You can borrow any book off the shelf to read while you’re there. (I read Paris versus New York.)
The adorable square-shaped vehicles. Don’t these trucks look like children’s toys?
Japanese design, thoughtfulness, cleanliness, and customer service.
…Like these folding purse-holder thingies at Starbucks, for keeping your bag off the ground.
Why don’t they have these in the rest of the world?! Probably because people would break and/or steal them. Apparently Japan is the only place that gets to have nice things.
This highly effective water fountain, which shoots water straight into the air, so your mouth need never come anywhere near the faucet.
I know it looks grimy, but bear with me.
If you turn the triangular knob all the way to the left, the water shoots super high (like over 10 feet!). Truly, this may have been one of the things that impressed me most about Japan: mastery of public water fountain design.
The way restaurant food always comes out looking exactly like it does on the menu. They have these plastic food displays outside so you can see what to expect.
(Not that this food looks very good—Japan is not the place to get pizza—but it suffices as an example of the displays.)
And how food is always so thoughtfully presented.
Even a simple side salad gets plated carefully.
This charming statue of a dog holding a basket.
This manicured tree.
Walking along the riverbank alone at night (and never once feeling unsafe).
Numerous gardens and parks.
Lastly, my favorite thing of all: this glorious day of cycling near Mount Fuji.
Above is my photo of the famous mountain. See it there in the background? The snow-capped peak is ringed by clouds, at center.
There’s a designated platform for getting the best photo of the shrine and mountain, but there was a huge crowd of people on it (I wish I’d taken a photo of that—it was a remarkable sight, all those humans crammed side by side snapping photos of the same thing). And I refuse to line up for a photo of something that can easily be Googled.
Here’s what it’s supposed to look like:
Anyway, this day was a pure delight:
P.S. A video recommendation for those that love Japan:
That wave thing at 0:43 is from the teamLab digital art museum. (I went there! …And did what everyone else was doing, by getting an artsy photo of myself. )
Next time, I’m definitely going to the red gates in Kyoto, shown at 2:34 in the video—and the Nara deer sanctuary.
So, yes: Despite my many complaints about Japan, I think there will be a next time. 😉