I was away for about 2.5 weeks to visit Japan, more exactly Kyoto and Tokyo. The trip was excellent, and in retrospect it was clearly a good idea to visit both cities. While Kyoto is a modern city, it still has a bit more traditional feel to things. For example, the local laws forbid building tall skyscrapers, so there aren’t much taller buildings than we have in Helsinki.
Tokyo in other hand is very modern city with lots of skyscrapers. When going to see the city view from top of Mori building in Roppongi hills, you can see the city expands in every direction to the horizon as far as you can see. There is also extremely well developed public transportation, just check the Tokyo subway map (PDF). The public transportation in Helsinki is also quite good, but Helsinki is so tiny compared to a big metropolitan city so that our subway is tiny as well – just compare the above one to the current Helsinki metro map. ^_^
Interestingly when going to USA it feels that everything is bigger. When going to Japan, it feels the opposite. Maybe that’s partly because there is a whole different class of small cars which are narrower than we’re used to. I think the average width of streets is a bit less as well. There are also typical big western cars, so there’s just more variety of different sized cars. There’s even mini garbage trucks as you can see. However, not everything is small; I think in Japan they just tend to make things small by default, but aren’t afraid of making things big when there’s a reason to do so.
Also some things seemed to be done in an opposite way of what we’ve used to. Not just the left-hand driving and walking, but cars are also almost always parked backing to parking spot so that it’s slower to park car but easy to leave. And at least in Kyoto the buses worked so that you go in from a single back door and pay when you exit through the front door. Curiously in Japanese language the verb is also put last in sentences (think of Yoda-speak).