Observing the Little Things About Japan

Aug 5th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Lifestyle

Bring a keen sense of observation with you when you visit Japan and you will leave with more than the usual photo album and stories of shrine visits, great food, and trains.  The scenes of daily life in Japan are often fanciful, sometimes quite mundane and on other occasions very thought provoking and serene.

No matter whether you itinerary takes your to Tokyo or Kyoto, Okinawa or Hokkaido, make an effort to look around you and notice the little things!

Look down to find a creative array of decorative manhole covers and sidewalk decorations…

Mt. Fuji Manhole cover Japan

Japan is the land of micro cars and precarious parking options that will make you smile and shake your head in wonder…

Small Car Japan

Narrow alleys and side streets are great to explore.  Small shops and quaint restaurants often sit side by side or under equally diminutive residences…

narrow street Kyoto Japan

Tall skinny buildings that appear too small to house much of anything but reside alongside much larger neighbors or alone at an intersection…

narrow building Tokyo Japan

The small portions of a traditional Japanese kaiseki meal and how they add up to a deliciously full stomach and satisfied palate…

kaiseki Japan small portions food

Your Japan guidebook won’t teach you the art of being observant or how to take time to notice and appreciate the little things that are part of daily life in Japan and often overlooked by visitors in their haste to get to the next place on their itinerary.  Don’t be so intent on your destination that you miss the little things!

Try to capture your own unique view of Japan in pictures but also the little things that can’t be captured on film like some of my favorite things…the small gestures and unique mannerisms of store clerks, the crazed and hectic pace of a train station where you barely notice the person beside you as you intently plod toward the track or exit, the amazing feeling of peacefulness that can be found in a small pocket of greenery amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, taking my mamachari (shopping bike) our to run errands in the neighborhood…

What’s your favorite and often overlooked “little” thing about Japan?

Image Credit:  Flickr, Decorative Man Hole Covers, Tiny car, Japan – sidestreets and alleys, Very Thin Building & __japan kaiseki mmmm

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3 comments
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  1. LOVELY article. you’re right – there is much to see (globally) when you sit down and really LOOK. beautiful photos!

  2. Good post.

    Hmm…the problem with trying to think of “little things” is that after living in Japan for a while, they fade into daily life and aren’t as noticeable. For me, anyway.

    How about the vending machines? Not sure if that’s a little thing, but it’s to know that if you’re thirsty, there’s always a drink nearby…

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