Well, we've been home for 4 days now and are already pining after that sweet cherry blossom smell that we have become so used to. Put me in a time capsule and send me back there now (minus the jetlag).
These are a few of my favourite things about Japan. In no particular order.
1) The usual ugly stuff is made pretty - drain covers with paintings on, art in metro stations, road works signs are neon flashing daisies, metal railings have a special coating to make them look like wood or at least have some kind of decoration on them.
The Japanese answer to a drain pipe. Rain collects in the top cup and once it's full, it drips over into the next cup and so on.
A railing outside a kids park in Mt Fuji
A man hole cover, one of many designs. Some were painted and some were just metal like this one.
A painted paving stone in Mt Fuji
A kimono clad girl in front of an art wall in the subway in Tokyo
2) The people - So helpful and friendly. They'll stop to help you if you look lost and even if they can't speak English they will try to communicate in any means possible. They are very honest and trustworthy. No diddling there.
3) Everything has a cartoon mascot on it - Trains, food, drinks, company logos, signs.
A no entry warning sign by a building site
Warning sign in the woods at the monkey reserve
4) When trains come to a stop, they play a little tune like something out of Sonic the Hedgehog. While we're talking about trains, they also have seats that turn. So, they either all face the same direction or you can turn them around so they face each other in pods of four. When the train gets to it's destinations, the train stewards run down the train turning all the seats around so you never have to face backwards!
The Mt Fuji train with the Mountain Monster mascot
Thomas the Tank Engine train in the snow at Mt Fuji
5) Surprisingly, the food! I didn't eat anything I disliked!
Silk food outside a restaurant in Kyoto
6) They recycle everything! Even on the street there are recycling bins! They are also very waste and energy concious.
7) They embrace other countries ideas and use them without losing their own identities.
8) They don't smoke on the streets.
9) Japan is spotlessly clean. I never saw a stray bit of rubbish. Even at the cherry blossom festival, there were neatly tied little bags of rubbish at the ends of peoples tarpaulins but no loose bits. No empty beer cans. No empty crisp packets. And definitely no chewing gum sticking to the bottoms of your shoes!
10) They love their dogs. I never saw one dog looking scruffy or unhealthy. Ok, so they go a bit OTT with the clothes and hairstyles but at least they are well loved.
A poodle wearing dungarees
A Chihuahua in a pushchair. A pushchair just for gods! See the little logo on the pouch.
11) No homeless people - or at least none that we ever saw. I never saw people begging either.
Ok, so that's 11 not 10 but it could easily have been more! If you've enjoyed reading about Japan here, you would definitely enjoy a visit. If you are ever lucky enough to get that chance, please, please take it up. I promise you won't regret it. This world is so big, and our lives are so short, why spend it in our own back yards?