Spalding's Trish Burgess shares more about her trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup
After nearly a month in Japan, following the Scotland team as they played the pool matches in the Rugby World Cup, it's fair to say Dougie and I are completely smitten with the country.
We enjoyed the bright lights of Tokyo and Osaka, paused for reflection in Hiroshima, and explored the shrines and temples in Kobe and Nagoya. There's so much I want to share with you about our experiences in Japan but here are some brief observations about the people and the country that we found admirable, adorable or amusing.
The Japanese are the most courteous and generous people we have ever met. Customer service is faultless. Train guards bow to everyone in the carriage and cabin crew bow to passengers before they board planes. A shop assistant, selling packets of crisps outside her shop to rugby supporters, gave me a tiny origami bird with my change.
Despite having vending machines selling fizzy drinks on virtually every street corner, there isn't a litter problem. The Japanese always take their rubbish home with them so their cities are spotless. If you drop a piece of paper by accident, someone will run after you to hand it back.
They have excellent transport systems which run to time. It's easy to negotiate trains and trams because stops are numbered so if a name isn't translated into English you can at least work out where you are by counting.
We loved the elderly traffic wardens who wield their light-sabre batons with pride. Heaven forbid you should cross the road on red, even if there are no cars to be seen.
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They have an amazing ability to fall asleep on trains yet still wake up for their stops. The 'salarymen', in their uniform of dark suit and white shirt, sleep whilst hanging and swinging on the straps in the carriage.
It's very safe. We never felt vulnerable or threatened at any time in Japan. We watched people leave their phones and laptops on cafe tables whilst they queued up for coffee.
Children of all ages walk to and from school on their own or in small groups.At one of the rugby matches, 15,000 children were bussed in to fill the extra seats in the stadium. We were amazed they were able to find their way back to their coaches in the dark with only a small number of teachers on hand.
There is a cuteness culture. The term 'kawaii' is used to describe everything from Hello Kitty merchandise to the dubious practice of hedgehog cafes. In one shopping mall customers could watch, behind glass, all the doggies being groomed in the pet parlour.
They love brollies, arcade games and heated toilet seats. They crave sweets and beautiful stationery. They prefer cash to credit cards and you don't need to tip.
The Japanese people are reserved, respectful people yet they welcomed hordes of big, noisy rugby supporters with warmth and good humour.
Japan - you stole our hearts.
You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk