Japan is much more open and spacious then I thought, especially when travelling through countryside areas. This picture was taken while on the shinkansen a short while before stopping in Sendai. The number of rice fields we saw while on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Morioka surprised me. Even in city areas there is always open space somewhere; whether its a large rice field, a open concrete public area, or a meeting area within a building, there is always some kind of wide open space nearby. It symbolizes a more peaceful and old-fashioned Japan, in contrast to the modern Japan of busy streets and tall buildings.
While Japan has become quite the modernized country, there are always elements of tradition to be found. This picture was taken at the Kumigai Ryoukan, a traditional Japanese inn close to downtown Morioka. A part of the inn is tradition, the whole place has it in the air. From the design of the building to the rooms style (all the customer's rooms have a tatami mat floor with a futon bed), everything is traditional. Several families now eat at a more Western style table, but you can always find a tatami room in the house, as well as traditional entrances most of the time (genkan).