10 surprising things about visiting Japan
How’s it going’ eh? I’m your Canadian friend Tim Tamashiro.
If you’re anything like I am and you love to travel… have you been thinking about Japan? I had been dreaming about Japan… for 10+ years. But it seemed a bit unachievable to me for some reason. But recently We had two weeks of time where all four of us could take a trip together so we booked flights and hotels in Tokyo. It was surprisingly affordable. I’m gonna tell you about that and 10 surprising things about Japan.
Japan is an exotic place to visit. I’m half Japanese and it even felt exotic to me. But it is so doable. Believe it or not, I booked our trip to Japan just three days ahead of when we were scheduled to travel. I just searched through the travel sites like Expedia, Travelocity etc to look for a deal. I found a deal where we could fly from Calgary where we live DIRECT to Tokyo and we’d have hotel rooms for two weeks for around $1700 pp. To me that felt surprisingly affordable. Look around online for deals to Japan. There’s a good chance you’ll find one.
Here are ten surprising things you might be not know about the land of the rising sun.
1. Japan is one the most low crime places you could ever visit.
If you were a Japanese person you would have been brought up in a home, neighbourhood, prefecture and country based in respect. Honour is a big part of Japanese culture so right from the get go the Japanese people know NOT to do things that embarrass themselves or their families. So things like getting arrested for theft, robbery, violence are frowned upon. Japan is incredibly safe to travel in. Nobody will hurt you.
2. Kids go everywhere by themselves
Japan is so safe families have a tradition of getting their children out and about by themselves doing stuff as young as 5 years old. It’s nothing to see young kids 6,7, 8 years old riding the subways alone to go to school in the morning or during rush hour at night. One of the most popular TV shows in Japan is called My First Errand. It follows little kids when their mom or dad gives them a job to do like go to the store for some supplies. Seeing the kids empowered like that is a breath of fresh air. (Well it was for me. You might not think so)
3. Don’t worry about using data on your smart phone. Get a mobile wifi.
When the wheels of your plane touch down in Japan you can head into the airport and rent a mobile wifi that you can use for the entire time you’re in the country. Most airports have them available. I booked one ahead of time and had it delivered to my hotel. It was there when I checked in. For two weeks me and my whole family had unlimited data… so we didn’t worry about anything. No huge data bills for us. The wifi cost around $10 a day… and that worked out to $2.50 a piece. The Wifi was really useful for getting around!
4. AVOID EYE CONTACT. It’s considered rude.
I’m usually the kind of guy that can pull a smile out of anyone. But to do that… I have to look a person right in the eye. But the Japanese people in general avoid eye contact. They’d walk down the streets with their heads down. They didn’t make eye contact even in the restaurants. Turns out that eye contact is considered rude in japan. When you meet someone you can glance at them in the eye for a brief moment but then the general rule is to look at their neck region when you’re speaking to them. Take my word for it… no eye contact takes a little getting used to.
5. Sushi everyday? Nope.
You might think that sushi would be eaten everyday in Japan because… well,… that’s where it comes from right? The truth is that the Japanese eat sushi only every now and then. There are three basic reasons: 1. Good sushi is expensive. 2. Beef steak is really popular. 3. Ramen. If there’s anything Japanese can crush everyday it’s ramen… and it’s really good everywhere!
6. Tokyo is new. Kyoto is traditional.
If you want the hustle and bustle of city life then Tokyo is the place to be. But if you’re looking for the feeling of traditional Japan then Kyoto is where to go. In Kyoto, you’ll walk down ancient streets and see people wearing rental kimonos everywhere. They’re really pretty. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of a real geisha girl or two as the quickly dart in and out of the streets out of one building and into another.
7. Japan is SO quiet.
You know why Japan is so quiet? Because hardly no-one uses their car horn. Honking is considered rude in Japan. It’s even considered as aggressive. Instead, drivers are very courteous. They LET other drivers in front of them. Seriously , you can walk down most streets in Tokyo and not hear a car horn for hours at a time. The result… a very quiet country. You can leave your hotel room windows open at night. It’s that quiet!
8. They have owl cafes.
Now, if you think Japanese people eat owl… let me stop you right there. They do not. Instead, you can visit an own cafe where you pay a small price like 2000 yen and you get to hang out with owls for an hour. Owls! WHO thinks this stuff up?
9. Japan is all about cash
When you go to japan, make sure you take plenty of Yen. Japan is still a cash based society. Everyone pays cash for almost everything. A helpful hint, there are 7-11 stores everywhere on the main island of Japan. The ATMs at 7-11’s usually do international transactions if you need to take more cash out.
10. People just leave their stuff
If you were to take your computer to your local starbucks to do a little work, would you leave your computer laying out if you had to use the toilet? The Japanese people do this all the time. It’s because of the trust that is part of society. Honor is the most revered aspect of everyday life. So pinching someone’s laptop that was left alone would bring shame to not only you but to your entire family. So its just not done. You’ll see people leaving their purses, shopping and pretty well anything at a table for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Japan is a super surprising country to visit. I’ve just listed 10 of the most surprising things I noticed during my trip. When YOU make the leap and book your trip to Japan, you’ll no doubt see a whole bunch of things that are even more surprising to you. But that’s what makes travel so worthwhile. It takes us out of our every day normal and opens our eyes to new wonders.
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