My trip to Japan started on Heathrow’s Terminal 5, chock-full of Christmas decorations. Come on? It is not even Halloween. Of course they can always leave them there year-round, that will save a lot of effort in changing them. Or at least until about February, to exchange them smoothly for Easter decorations then.
Pink seems a very popular colour in Japan. Apparently you can get anything in pink, including the assemble-for-yourself ball and stick models of molecules. (I admit I think these are cute and they also look much easier to assemble than the ones you get in Europe. I will get a set if I can manage.) The microwave buttons are pink. The marker a schoolgirl uses to emphasise words in her notes will likely be pink, both in design and with pink ink. In this respect the Christmas decorations at Heathrow were sadly lacking – not a pink ribbon in sight!
I was very impressed at the efficiency and speed at which the Narita airport operates. I was out of there, holding a bus ticket, in record time, even though no one seemed to rush or to rush me throughout the whole process. When I saw the bus driver’s assistant attaching a label with a number to my suitcase, I finally stopped worrying about being able to travel in a country so unfamiliar to me as Japan. You do not have to be able to manage here. They manage for you.
It is always overwhelming to be thrown into a different culture, so I was glad when my friends took me to their gym; swimming is a familiar activity to me and I started to feel more at home in my surroundings. Until, that is, I noticed two cleaners scrubbing the floor next to the pool with toothbrushes. Diligence? Punishment? Desire for absolute cleanliness? In any case, one of the toothbrushes was pink.