When we began this bicycle trip we realized right off that even the most familiar things weren't what they seemed to be.  Here are a few ordinary things we found a bit different.

1.   Bread is rarely found in a bakery and often rarely found at all
2.   You get money in cash machines in the PO not in banks and PO open on Sunday
3.   Kids go to school on Sunday
4.   Gas hoses in gas stations drop out of the pumps from the CEILING!
5.   Parking garages come out of the ground or go up, on elevators
6.   Capsule Hotels where you sleep in a capsule the size of a coffin.
7.   Vending machines that you pay by cell phone.
8.   A cigarette called 'Hope'.
9.   Plastic food that is very life like in front of restaurants to make your choice (Be careful,
      sometimes it is real!)
10. Ladies have special lanes for waiting on some train platforms
11. ONE cantaloupe can cost as much as $1000 for the most perfectly round and first of the 
12. Watermelons are a delicacy and given as gifts and also costly
13. BEANS can be found in most pillows, but also in ice cream and donuts!
14. Coffee jello
15. Green Stamps still exist
16. A sport drink called Pocari Sweat and one made by Calpis
17. Hot tea or coffee in a CAN out of vending machines.
18. Coffee creamer called CREAP!
19. Air bags on motorcycles
20. Toilets with lids that lift up automatically, heated seats, temperature controlled strategically
       directed water for after wash  and an option for the ladies to be more discreet by playing
       recorded sounds of a waterfall. (This is a water saving device so they do not keep flushing
       trying disguise the reason they are there). We checked on buying one to bring home (got really
       attached) but they are $5000!!


                                                             STORE  NAMES







                                                      A WORD ABOUT WORDS

There are over 3000 Chinese characters known as  'KANJI' . Kanji are ideograms, each simple character represents a word. These are then combined to form other words or part words. In Japan these characters are called 'HIRAGANA' . They are also used for endings of words written in kanji.  'KATAKANA' is used for writing words that have come from other languages and are the simplest to write and understand. Children start to learn the characters before first grade and the law requires one to know at least 1800 characters before adulthood. With this many characters one is able to read the level of a newspaper. If you really want to be strict grammarian you may find as many as 20,000 characters in a dictionary if including all three forms.

Here are some words we found most useful

1.   I don't speak Japanese - NIHONGO WA HANASE MASEN 
2.   I don't understand - WAKARI MASEN      
3.   Thank you - DOMO ARIGATO
4.   Please - DOZO
5.   Excuse me / Sorry - SUMI MASEN / GOMEN NASAI
6.   Hello / Hi / Good morning / Good afternoon - KON ICHI WA
7.   Good evening - KON BAN WA
8.   Good night - O YA SUMI NASAI
9.   Good bye - SAYONARA
10. Bon Appitite - ITA DAKI MASU
11. Fantastic - SUGOI