Tokyo from A to Z (not quite) | An Eventful Life

Tokyo from A to Z (not quite)

Hello everyone!

I’m back in Tokyo after some amazing weeks back home with family and friends.

My parents are definitely enjoying to be alone in the house as mum took over my closet and dad my bathroom. They are also pretending that MY dog is THEIR dog now and I had to ask for permission to take her for walks....



Anyway, the clock is ticking and we just have 195 days to go for the Olympics and 227 days for the Paralympics!


For my second blog I thought it would be nice to introduce you to some of the most characteristic Japanese things using the alphabet so that you will be ready if you are planning to visit Japan or to come to Tokyo during the Olympic or Paralympic Games!



The Japanese use four different alphabets; our “normal” letters that they called romaji, katakana to write in Japanese international words and names, hiragana the proper Japanese syllabary and kanji, logographic characters also used in Chinese.

Just so you know it is very common that a Japanese person will not be able to understand the name of someone if it is written with a kanji he/she doesn’t know. After knowing this I’m less ashamed that I will never learn how to read or write something different from my own name.



If you have ever been to the Netherlands and thought there were a lot of bikes, you really need to re-consider that.



Start practicing if you are planning a visit. I once asked to have knife and fork in a restaurant and they gave me a pair of scissors.



I love dogs and animals in general, unfortunately there are not a lot of dogs going around in Tokyo and the few that I’ve seen are in dog strollers. Not joking.



There are many rules in Japan and there is obviously a rule for escalators. If you are on the right side you can stay still but if you are on the left side you need to climb, possibly fast. You cannot stay in the middle, you cannot stay still on the right or try to climb on the left.


      2 kiwi fruit, 2 peaches, 1 orange, 1 mandarin and 1 pear for 58 euros



Fruit is very expensive. Very expensive and it is used as a very precious gift if you are invited to someone’s house for dinner. There are special shops that will sell you 15 strawberries for 65euros or a melon for 125euros. Do not accept the dinner invitation.



This means “How are you?” in Japanese. Now you know.  



If you are planning to visit Japan between June and October, you need to be aware of the 2 H’s: humidity and heat and you really need to get used to being sweaty (very sweaty).



Japanese people are extremely polite and quiet. Tokyo is super crowded but at the same time not chaotic or noisy as everyone is going around in a very tidy way and talking quietly.

Different situation on a Friday night in Roppongi or on a Sunday afternoon in Shibuya.



Kimonos are still very popular and you will certainly see girls wearing one on a Sunday or if visiting a garden. They are super elegant, super expensive if you are thinking about buying one and the wooden flip-flops don’t seem very comfortable.






Japanese loos are famous all over the world. To be honest it was very disappointing to press the button “MUSIC” and find out that it was just a noise resembling the flushing. I’d hoped for a Japanese pop-hit but no.

All the other buttons will spray your front and rear with water with different level of intensity and the toilet seat is always warm. No one will judge if you’ll try them all, be careful about the water pressure though.


If you like sushi you know what a maki is. Sushi in Japan is like pizza in Italy. Amazing.



In Japan there is a very strict “no shoes” policy. Luckily not in the stables.

In a lot of restaurants, you will have to take off your shoes and for Japanese people, shoes are just something you wear outdoors. Everyone has a pair of slippers under the desk in the office. Bring your best socks to Japan as a lot of people will see them!



If you visit as a tourist, you will feel a sense of “omotenashi” during your stay. Omotenashi is a Japanese word that means hospitality.

Different story if you work and live in Japan, no omotenashi for you.



Unfortunately, everything in Japan is wrapped in plastic, multiple times if possible. Bananas included.



I’m very surprised that Queuing is not one of the Olympic Sports at Tokyo 2020. You will queue everywhere, going in and out of the subway stations, at escalators, outside restaurants, to enter a shop, museums, everywhere but not at the post office (!). Be prepared to embrace the culture of queueing very tidily and patiently.



I hope you like rice, I hope you love rice. I hope you are patient enough to eat rice with chopsticks.



The public transport in Tokyo is impeccable. Always on time, always clean and each one of the 18 subway lines has very clear indications and signs both in Japanese and English. Some of the stations are enormous, with shops, restaurants and different lines; choose the exit you need to use wisely as, with the wrong one, you could end up miles away from where you need to go.

If you use the subway be prepared to experience a population density of about 50 people per square meter. I’ve never been so close to someone whilst wearing my clothes.



How cute are Japanese toddlers?



If you see a Japanese girl holding an umbrella it can mean two things: it’s raining or it is an amazing day of sunshine.

The umbrella departments in shops are amazing, never seen so many types of umbrellas: anti-UV, anti-RAIN, small, large, cheap, expensive, very expensive, super expensive, outside the budget. 



A lot of things in Japan are very small. One of these things is my flat. 16 square metres. I know that your horse’s stable is possibly bigger, the only difference between your horse and me is that I pay my own rent.



You will get a wet wipe every time you buy something to eat in a shop and in every restaurant. Very useful, to be honest. You will miss them when back in your home country.



Fun fact: the 1 yen coin weighs one gram.


Can you believe that X and Z do not exist in any of the Japanese alphabets?