This is the first place that has come up against Worthing that I’ve been to before. I worked in Japan for two years as an English teacher and have really fond memories of my students, my school and of meeting my wife but all that was before I lived in The Mighty Worthing. Can the land of the rising sun score more than the town with the Hare and Hounds? Let’s find out.
1. Is the weather better than Brighton?
Everywhere we’ve been has been so near the equator that they only have slight variances in the seasons between roasting hot and fricking hot. Japan has the same seasons as England, but more extreme. When it’s cold in England it is snowing in Japan and when it’s warm in England it’s hot enough to melt your face in Japan. When we arrived it was just starting to get a little bit cold in England, so in Japan it was just starting to get really really cold. It seemed even more pronounced as we got on a plane in 32 degree Malaysian heat and got off in 10 degree Japanese chills. We were prepared though and had jumpers at the ready, plus we were super excited.
Over the two weeks we had one rainy day (our wedding anniversary – apparently it rains on November the 17th over here too!), a couple of proper nut-freezers and the rest of the time was pretty comfortable. Documentary evidence is provided below.
Assuming that the weather in Brighton was a less intense version of what we were having then it’s probably 50/50 so – 5 points
2. Proximity of the sea
Some of you might argue that DisneySea doesn’t count, but actually it does. DisneySea is next to Tokyo Disneyland and is the only one of it’s kind in the world. Where as other places have Disney Studios, Tokyo Disneyland was built on reclaimed land from the sea and they decided to take advantage of this by building the park around a big saltwater lake. It is proper wicked and you should definitely go, even if – actually, especially if – you are one of those people who says Disneyland is for kids and is crap because DisneySea is for adults and they sell beer. You will love it.
It doesn’t have a pier, but it does have gondoliers, submarines, ferries, steamboats and canoes. Most excitingly, it has a ship called St Elmo!
It’s got it all, except a pier and rules are rules so – 8 points
3. Friendliness and attractiveness of the locals
Apart from the night of our anniversary, the whole time we were in Japan we stayed with friends. It was really nice to see them all again, but it was even nicer that they all cooked us amazing food and took us to lush restaurants, but more on that in a minute. Everyone we didn’t already know in Japan was super friendly and helpful. The lady in the post office was really patient when we were trying to speak Japanese to her and send stuff. Rather than take our money she was all about getting her dictionary out and trying to explain about the different postage options, even though we just kept saying “the cheapest is fine”!
Everyone was lovely – 10 points
4. Quality of food and local delicacies
As I already mentioned, we trespassed on the kindness of various friends whilst in Japan, all of whom cooked us amazing foods like gyoza, nabe, grilled selections, flower salad, spring rolls etc. We also got taken out a whole lot for dinners including sushi, Korean, tempura and more!
One of the most interesting meals I have ever had was with Mikie and Takeshi in Nikko. It was about 7 courses, all vegetarian, and this is an example of what they looked like.
It’s a tradition amongst Gaijin that when you’re in Japan you have to eat the weirdest food you can find, usually becuase a local person dares you to. The highlight this time was when Juki asked the sushi man to make me something special. I ate it, not sure what it was. Juki said it was the spiky fish, and then when we got home and consulted a dictionary it turned out I had eaten a paste of sea urchin eggs! First and last time (although it was actually tasty!)
I always loved Japanese food and this time we ate some of the best I have ever had. Big thanks to all our hosts, and to Japan a big – 10 points
5. Availability and quality of ale
Once upon a time the wife and I went to an English bar in Tokyo and paid over £5 for a pint of Boddingtons. This time prices had gone up, and we couldn’t afford such luxuries (trust me – if you want to enjoy all Japan has to offer you need to be rich or work there) but I did have lots of local booze.
The best was Yebisu, but Asahi was a close, crisp second. Because we are pikey travelling folk we tried out the cheapo beers too. In Japan there are your Yebisu and Asahi that are about 360yen a can in the supermarket, and then others that are the same size, same alcohol, even made by the Asahi people but they’re only 230yen. Logic tells you you’re buying something inferior but mathematics tells you that you can afford loads more of the cheap stuff, so flip the consequences and let’s try! They’re not as nice, but I like the price.
Alcohol is readily available and delicious, but you have to pay a lot to get the good stuff – 8 points
Japan I love you, your food and your people. I met my wife there as well as some awesome people from all over the world and some gorgeously fantastic Japanese people that I’m so pleased to be able to call my friends. That’s all reflected in your great score of 41 points putting you on level pegging with Worthing, Cambodia and Singapore. I’m going to have to start planning some sort of tie-break play-off holiday. Donations gratefully received!
Our Japan photos are all there for you to see at www.flickr.com/photos/gavinflickr/sets/72157625435510888/ Please enjoy!