Honking cars! They were hiding in the rain in Sendai. OK, so people occasionally honked at each other in other places, but it's been pretty rare.
Homeless people! I had to search a little bit for this one. Still no sign of panhandlers though, just the occasional super-aggressive restaurant promoter.
A black person! Looking around in Japan almost everyone I see is Japanese. Even the people who don't look Japanese at first glance are usually Japanese. We've talked with a handful of Australians, and a pair from Italy and Austria who were on their way to Australia, and a Californian who apparently had nothing to do with Australia, but it was rather extraordinary to see a person of color here.
Trash on the street! Another one I had to be specifically watching for though.
Seedy neighborhoods! We stumbled across the seedy part of Sendai before we knew it existed. Afterwards we found the part of our guidebook that talks about it. Well, now we know, I guess.
A shrine with class! We took a day trip from Sendai to Matsushima today. There we finally found a shrine with simplicity and elegance and without a sense that it was really just there to collect money for somebody. There we also found the most blatantly comercial shrine yet, with its "omikuji" box being a little 100-yen coin-operated vending machine. The one we liked was in a quiet, secluded space with few tourists on a somewhat isolated island. Pretty awesome all around.
I've been trying to keep a list of these in my head and apparently I ran out of room for them days ago. Maybe I'll post more if I think of them.