A Trip Back In Time In Japan

A Trip Back in Time to the K-On! School

I’m finally on the way back home to Gunma. This has certainly been a fun trip, seven days of intense traveling through Kansai region with J-List staffers. I finished it off in Osaka, exploring Japan’s sprawling steel-and-concrete jungle, touring the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, and visiting the Tower of the Sun, a bizarre sculpture from the 1970 Japan Expo which I’d always had a fascination with. I finished with a trip to the K-On! school in a rural city on the shores of Lake Biwa.

During my trip I felt that I’d timeslipped into the pas. In Tokyo, it’s common to pay for taxis by tapping our Suica card to a plate, or tapping our iPhone if the Suica feature is supported in that model. But not only did the taxis I used in Osaka not support Suica contactless payments, they don’t even accept credit cards. (Well, one guy grudgingly did, then he got out one of those old-timey sliders that makes an impression of your credit card numbers on carbon paper.) I went back in time even further when I visited Toyosato, the city where the K-On! school is. The trains were all “wan-man” (one-man, e.g. driver-only trains where you pay your fare on the train), which harks back to the 1950s, while the K-On! school itself dates all the way back to 1937.

One of the most important concepts in Japanese life is 信用 shin’yo, meaning trust. As the owners of J-List, my wife and I work hard to make sure we’ve earned the trust of everyone who makes our company possible: our suppliers and distributors, licensors of the games we translate like Nitroplus, the Japanese banks who we have financial relationships with, and our awesome employees. Sometimes Japanese can be so trusting it boggles the Western mind, like the time I was in a bar with an Italian friend, drinking after closing time. The lady was counting out her cash drawer, putting the equivalent of $100 bills on the counter a few inches from us, then darting all around the kitchen doing stuff, trusting that we wouldn’t touch the money she’d left on the counter. During our time in Kyoto, we stopped by my favorite whisky bar, located in a 200 year old Zen temple called Kanga’an. While the five of us — from Portugal, England and the U.S. — relaxed and contemplated the beauty all around us over shots of Yamazaki or Taketsuru, the lady running the place disappeared for 30 minutes at a time, leaving five foreigners alone in a bar filled with expensive whiskies.

Nutaku giveaway

Our good friends at Nutaku have had a birthday, and they’re giving away some amazing items, including three Razer gaming laptops that would be great for playing your favorite games on. Good luck!

About the author

Peter Payne

I live in Japan and I run J-List, an anime shop famous for shimapan and Tentacle Grape. I love being able to bring Japanese culture to the world.