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1. Your bill calculated with an abacus
There are still shopkeepers who use an abacus to calculate your bill. This woman runs a sweet shop in Kyoto. A lot of people think everything is modern and high-tech in Japan, but the reality is more often a refreshing mix of old and new.
2. Sushi chefs on stilts
Traditional wooden sandals called “geta”, are still worn in Japan, usually with Japanese formal wear. Run-of-the mill geta are about 2 inches tall. Then there are “ashida geta” which can be a towering 6 to 8 inches tall. They are designed to keep you out of the muck when it rains, but these days, they’re mostly worn by sushi chefs to keep their feet above the fish scraps they drop on the floor. So if you ever see an extra-tall sushi chef, check out his footware.
3. Hog walkers
This Kyoto woman took her pet hog for a “walk.” Clearly it’s too dangerous to let the hog cross the street on its own.
4. Clever contraptions
Japanese are astounding innovators. Here’s a contraption at a highway rest stop created just to make possible to open or close an inaccessible window.
5. Gravestone eviction notices
In Japan, the real estate crunch even extends to graveyards. Space is so prime, that if the family doesn’t keep up with paying graveyard dues into perpetuity, the stones and urn inside are removed to make space for someone who can pay. This one is from the expansive 8th century Kiyomizu-dera temple cemetery in Kyoto.
6. Presentation perfection
This is but one course of many of a very high-end meal. Each leaf was plucked from the fall foliage for its perfect color to blend or contrast with the woven tray or the carved lime basket filled with salmon roe.
7. Past meets present
Past meet present. Although a flip phone isn’t quite as “present” as it could be.
8. Captain’s Chair toilets
Toilets have a lot of options in Japan. They’re not just at high-end locations. This is at an average highway rest stop. Note the more traditional squat toilet at the far right. Every option indeed!
9. Living paintings
Turn your head and you’re in a Japanese painting. Outside the cities this happens remarkably often. Japanese landscapes paintings are not stylized, romanticized versions of reality—the countryside really looks like that! This photo is taken in Yamanaka, Ishikawa Prefecture.
10. Endless vending machine options
It’s astounding how many options can be squeezed into a coffee vending machine: Pick your brew. Regular or jumbo? How much milk, sugar? Hot or iced? Mocha, cappuccino, latte? Vanilla cafe, cocoa, green tea au lait? Would you like cinnamon topping on your cap?
Bonus: Vending machine brew-cam
This vending machine actually measures, grinds, and brews your cup to order—and you can watch the entire process streamed from the internal brew-cam while you wait.
11. Decorative manhole covers
It’s hard not to be impressed by the amount of care that goes into even the smallest details in Japan. Manhole covers are used an expression of local character. Why not mix public works with public art. This one is from Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture.
12. Creative cycles
There’s a lot more you can do with a bicycle than most people think.
13. Avalanche-proof housing
(All photos by Cindy Drukier/Epoch Times)