From the brief (and rainy) glimpse I got of Osaka yesterday, I do like Japan. While not remarkably different than South Korea, the subtle differences were significant enough for me to appreciate and recount:

-I didn’t get stared at nearly as much as I do here, and the stares I did get were more of the intriguied glance variety than the intimidating glare variety that occurs here.

-Everything was much cleaner than it is here, most noticably the air and the streets.

-It’s much more pedestrian-friendly. Pedestrians are generally not given the right of way in South Korea, and the crosswalk signals are hard to come by and usually not long enough for one to make it all the way across the street. In many places there are no sidewalks, so one is forced to ostensibly share the road with the cars. This was not the case in Osaka.

-I actually saw signs prohibiting the use of cell phones in some restaurants. This policy would never occur to South Korea, and it wouldn’t be adhered to if it was attempted.

-More than anything, though, there was a distinct pulse to Osaka that is hard to come by in Seoul. A strange, almost tangible excitement of a country that is, in many ways, the future. Blade Runner, and all that.

I amend these observations by noting that I was only in central Osaka for about four hours. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Japan is ridiculously expensive, prices are about twice what they are in Seoul. So while I’m still happy here in South Korea, and am convinced that it’s a much better place to make and save money (and to eat), I can’t wait to visit Tokyo.

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