7 reasons why Japan is awesome
Japan is a great country. Ever since I went there in 2015, I often find myself thinking: When am I going back? So what is it that makes Japan so awesome? Below you can read the 7 reasons why Japan is awesome and is holiday spot number one for me.
Reason 1: Food
Naturally this is number 1 for me. I love food and travel and you can combine the two very well in Japan. No, people don’t eat sushi all day long over there. That’s actually only for special occasions. Shabu-shabu, the broth in which you cook your meat, fish and vegetables, is very tasty. If you crave more carbs, you can go for ramen, soba or udon noodles. Or try okonomiyaki, takoyaki, wagashi. The possibilities are endless; if you are of an adventurous nature, you will find the most wonderful places where you’ll taste the best dishes. And so my travelling companions and I ended up in a small local eatery. The staff couldn’t speak a word of English, but we had a fabulous barbecue with many different kinds of meat, among which Wagyu beef (see above). Meat so deliciously tender… Nom nom nom!
Reason 2: The people
If I had to describe the Japanese in 3 words, they would be: kind, überpolite and sensible. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I have never felt as welcome in a foreign country as I have there. There are always people around willing to help you whenever you are looking around in a panic because you’re lost. And there will always be a group of schoolchildren about who, with textbook in hand, want to ask you a few questions in English for practice.
If you have a long wait in line, a member of staff will often come by to apologise individually. There are special seats reserved for the elderly and disabled in the underground trains. Unlike in the Netherlands, people will stand if an elderly person enters and would like to sit down.
When I say sensible, I specifically mean the reaction when there is (yet another) earthquake going on. In answer to what our guide would do in such a situation – Crawl under a table? Stand in a doorway? – he said: “I would first open the window. If the house partially collapses, that way I hopefully still have a way of getting out. After that, I’ll calmly go back to my seat and wait.” I’ve seen the same relaxed attitude in more Japanese. Not a lot of fuss, just calm and composed. Very different from what you might see in some Japanese game shows, by the way.
Reason 3: Safety
You can leave your bag behind unattended: nothing will be taken. They aren’t going to look for you thinking you might be a terrorist, either. And in crowded streets you can simply wear your backpack where it belongs, because the people there don’t steal. I have also never, not even after dark, felt unsafe anywhere.
Reason 4: Architecture
Japan boasts some of the most beautiful tall buildings. And you are even allowed to enter most of them to admire the view from the top. In Osaka you should definitely go into the Umeda Sky Building, for example. The way to the top with all its escalators is as breath-taking as the view of the city itself. In Tokyo you can overlook the city from the Tokyo Skytree. If you’re going during a cloudless day, you can see Japan’s most famous mountain, Mount Fuji. If you’re going after dark, there are lights as far as the eye can see.
Reason 5: Variations in nature and metropoles
In large metropoles like Tokyo, Hiroshima and Osaka you will find the skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of people and traffic. There is always a tall building available from whose top you may view the city. Once it’s dark, the buildings in the city centre and far beyond will be illuminated and you can see neon signs everywhere.
If you take the train out of the city, you’re in nature in no time. Beautiful mountain scenery, bodies of water and forests are abundant in Japan. Mostly intact due to the lack of influence from tourism. You can take great walks and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Reason 6: Technology
Most care robots are made in Japan. Some of them are so lifelike. In Fukuoka I visited a producer of various robots. From human-sized robots that could be deployed as butlers, to a cuddly seal that is often used in Dutch nursing homes. They have it all over there.
And then there are the toilets. You can choose to have the seat heated. There is a waterjet for all your bits, both front and back, with a blow-dryer to dry it all off. And if you’re lucky enough to be on a real supersonic toilet, you could even choose to play some music to (partially) cover up unwanted noises. Yes, going to the bathroom in Japan is quite the experience.
Reason 7: Public transport
The underground is on time. Whenever there is a delay, even if it’s a measly minute, this will appear on a screen in the train. If possible, they will even tell you why. It will often be a ‘boarding delay of a passenger’.
You definitely have to take the underground during rush hour. It is somewhat uncomfortable, but as a tourist, you can’t miss the experience of being packed in with your fellow travellers like sardines in a tin. Trust me: rush hour in a Dutch train or underground is nothing compared to this. In some cases, there will even be a member of staff on the platform tasked with shoving everybody in.
The routes of the many different lines in the large cities are conveniently arranged on a route map. Even if you don’t understand Japanese, you can always find your way. And you will know exactly how much a ticket costs.
The same goes for the train. You really have to ride the Shinkansen, by the way. That’s the superfast train that can reach speeds of up to 300 kilometres an hour. You can’t really tell from inside the train itself. I had a great nap in there, tired from the journey. Sadly I never noticed much of the whole train ride :-S.
Read my previous (Dutch) blog about Daiso, where you can buy fabulous Japanese souvenirs for bargain prices.
Have you ever been to Japan? Do you also think Japan is awesome? Leave a message below. Thank you!
Mijn nichtje en mede-IndoRotterdammert Natalie (NatMonkey) was zo vriendelijk om een eerder artikel van mij over Japan naar het Engels te vertalen. Binnenkort zullen er meer vertalingen van Natalie op mijn website te vinden zijn.