How one country can make you really miss it so much.
Being treated well when you travel shouldn’t be taken for granted and this is especially true if you’re going to a country where English isn’t their native language. Japan though, is a welcoming place to tourists. Most if not all shops are unfailingly polite and hospitable so the only real risk is coming from being late to something. Your personal safety is rarely at risk and women can generally solo travel this country with no issues.
Speaking of timeliness, the Japanese as a culture are very much strict about their time. It’s a sign of respect to be on time and even early in some cases. It’s viewed in a negative light if you are late to a meeting but what that means as a visitor is that if your train says it’s leaving at 12 noon, it’s definitely gone by 12:01. Equally important is to make restaurant reservations as they are very exacting with their spacing, seating, and portion requirements. Some restaurants may turn you away if you’re either excessively late or are an incomplete reservation.
It should come as no surprise, as the country in the world tied with France for the most Michelin Starred Chefs, that the food in Japan is nothing short of amazing. They’ve taken cuisine from all over the world and put their own amazing refinements on it. They’ve made curries a little sweeter while maintaining those amazing spices. The same for pasta, the sauce a tad sweeter but the cooking technique no less impressive. No matter the stand up sushi bar in a local train station or a 12 course Michelin Star dinner, expect to eat well in Japan.
I will be the first to state that Japan’s trains can be crowded and so they don’t offer much in the way of comfort during rush hour. However, comfort does reign in some very important area’s of Japanese culture. I am of course, talking about the porcelain throne. It’s no secret that it can get cold in Japan but what the Japanese have done for early morning cold posterior’s is nothing short of amazing. I’ve never missed a bathroom as much as I do the ones in Japan and I would consider it a worthy endeavor to convert an American toilet to the Japanese style heated seat.
The scenery in Japan is also one of the places where you feel at peace. There are awe inspiring places all over the world that seem larger than life and Japan has those too. What you should focus on though, is how you feel when you’re around those places. The shrines in Japan for example, evoke a tranquility rarely seen. Forests and hills, mountains and hot springs. Take in the beauty that still exists in this ultra modern country.
Japan is not for those faint of wallet. That is to say that the Japanese have made a culture of shopping and their second hand market is arguably the best in the world. Nearly any modern product that a discerning Nerdy Human might want to buy can be found in Japan, it’s that serious. The vintage shops in Japan are equally spectacular since the Japanese are fairly meticulous with the items they own so you can find items from 4 decades ago in unbelievable shape. They’re thoughtful like that.
There are plenty of old cities all over the world but the history in Japan is something else. Japan is famous for it’s technology and so it has some of the most modern buildings in the world built to reduce the impact of earthquakes. Equally well built alongside those buildings, are shrines and temples that are 2000 years old in some cases. So yes, you might find an ultra modern office building built next to a shrine that your great grandparents have visited.
As one of the most populated places in the world, it was definitely a requirement for commuters and travelers alike to be able to get around. Japan has one of the most modern and accessible public and private railway systems in the world. In one day, it’s possible to hop a bullet train and 6 hours later end up on the other side of the country. Simply put, the transit system in Japan allows travelers to experience the full range of city-to-country living at a moments notice.
If you’ve decided to take a day trip out to the country side or just a neighboring city, you’d be relieved to know that you can eat on the bullet train. Even as you accelerate to over 150 mph, you won’t feel it. So be safe in the knowledge that you can eat the variety of delicious snacks that Japan is famous for while you watch the countryside speed by. There are even cities with destinations for food lovers in mind and the snack minded.
Mindfulness, also known as consideration, is something that the Japanese have practiced for generations. As a culture they wear masks even when there isn’t a global pandemic as just a way to stop the spread of regular germs during flu season. Personal experience has shown that service staff in hotels and restaurants go the extra mile and are always willing to work with you towards your travel goals. It is perhaps this thing more than any others, that makes Japan shine.
For all the things I’ve talked about, it is truly the people of Japan that keep me coming back there. I never go in assuming I’ll be treated like a king who’s just returned home from a long journey and yet I’m comforted in the idea that here is a place that I visit, where I know I’ll be welcomed and treated well. A place where I can relax and truly enjoy without fear or reservation but always with politeness in mind.
Until Next time,