Whilst Tokyo is perhaps like Hong Kong on a copious amount of illegal drugs, some things have turned out to be truer than others… The (in)famous Star Trek toilets are more the rule than the exception, though I’ve been too scared to experiment with the buttons as one of the symbols looks like what can only be described as a ‘deep probe wash’. Yes, they love their manga and their gadgets, but – alas – no, I’m yet to be groped on the metro (disappointingly… maybe it’s the chicken suit!?). It is also accurate to say that all the men are suited up to the nines – with mirrors and pit-stop barbers in tube stations.
When walking the spotless streets over the past 9 days, it’s been difficult not to compare everything to back in HK – our public transport is certainly cheaper and simpler. Plus, there are few escalators here; instead there are weird static steps you have to climb manually (“stairs”, as I remember). But on pretty much everything else, Japan’s cyber-city capital, probably wins… Beyond the super-busy areas, everywhere seems so much quieter and calmer (often eerily), with clean streets – designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind – and little pollution. English is obviously less prevalent here but when people try to communicate, it is with grace rather than embarrassment. There is a greater sense of service and a feeling of wider social conscience (known as ‘Wa’) – something Singapore attempts to buy with strict enforcement and Hong Kong achieves only through its ‘face loss’ phobia. ‘Same same but different’ might be an appropriate Asian saying.