Japan

First Impressions of Lake Toya

Japan was a land of steep mountains and dense forest – a huge country stretching from Russia’s icy east coast to almost the tropics in the south.  Most Japaese lived on the coastal plains so the inland environment was pristine and natural with prolific wildlife including the wild boar, Asian black bear and red fox, as well as squirrels various.  Brian spotted a tanuki, a type of raccoon, walking slowly along the woodland path early one morning 

   
We had visited a couple of restaurants since our arrival; they provided regular western style tables and chairs as well as low stools and tables where diners ate Japanese style with shoes removed and sitting on the floor.  Very few Japanese spoke any English so, in order to know what meat we were eating we had great fun reprising the animal noises from Old Macdonald Had A Farm.  For some reason the Japanese found our sound effects highly amusing.  When a Japanese laughed they put their hand over their mouth because, we were told, they considered it rude to show the inside of their mouth.  A lot of restaurants provided pictures of the dishes offered and this was a great help in avoiding ordering something too surprising.