Just a few random things that I thought were interesting:
1. There were bikes everywhere in Japan! Much more than in Korea or the US, bikes were a major and common form of transportation. However, as we found out, the fad of biking is less about the environment or exercise, and more about the inaccessible price of cars.
2. Photo booths seem to be quite popular! On two separate occasions we were taken to photo booths to do crazy poses, decorate them, and print them off. If you go to malls or arcades, there are scores of these photo booths.
3. In Japan, girls can be in the boy scouts.
4. In both Korea and Japan, Valentine's Day is when girls give gifts to boys. White Day (in March) is when boys give gifts to girls. Black Day (in April) is a day for singles, who wear black and eat black food. I plan on celebrating all three.
5. Animation is very popular in Japan!
6. Universities all seem to have middle and high schools associated with them.
7. In some cities, the cable car is still a regular form of transportation.
8. American football is played at Japanese universities! Who knew? Kwansei Gakuin's team is apparently very good.
9. When we were riding with our host family in Hiroshima, the girls started singing "Country Roads." I was amazed that John Denver would have made it across the generation and geographical distance, but we all sang a rousing rendition of the song as we traveled the hills in rural Japan. However, the girls then played this song for us, which gave me a very different understanding of how they came to know the words to the J.D. classic. Turns out they hadn't heard of John Denver, but a Japanese artist had used the same words in this totally tech-no (but funny!) "Country Roads" song. Sigh.
(Turn your volume way up for this, the sound is a little low. And don't worry about viewing the video, there's nothing to see. Focus on the music.)