7 Things to Love About Japan
A first-timer to Japan, I visited this country with very little expectations and prior knowledge about what I’d discover. My first impressions of Japan led me to find some things to love about Japan and things that made me go, “hmm… dislike.” But Japan is one of those places that you NEED to experience for yourself. And in the end, you’ll probably love it. I strange love, but love nonetheless.
Here’s what I loved about traveling to Japan.
1: The safety.
Compared to other industrialized countries, crime in Japan is relatively low. When looking at the U.S. State Department’s travel warnings about Japan, much of the warning stem around entertainment and nightlife. There are cautions to theft, fraud, and drink spiking, but being an alert traveler is the best deterrence to victimhood. I felt so safe in Japan.
2: The politeness.
Eric and I stood outside a closed store waiting for it to open. Our luggage didn’t make it to Japan and we needed clean clothes. Unprompted, a gentleman approached us and urged that we following him. Winding around the shops in Ginza, he led us to a bigger store that would open sooner. We didn’t ask for help. Politeness is a part of Japanese culture. We witnessed Japanese businessmen in a “bow battle” to show respect for each other. I joined in the the Japanese courtesy of wearing a face mask to avoid spreading my sickness to the masses. There’s this genuine and courteous code of conduct in Japan. I love it. I think our world could use a lot this Japanese politeness.
3: The toilets.
The toilets really are porcelain thrones.
Your derriere gets the royal treatment in Japan. Let’s describe the scene. The stall door opens, triggering the toilet seat to automatically lift, revealing a blue glow from the bowl. You may think you hear choirs of angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, but realize it’s just the sound effects of a bubbling brook, playing to drown out the noise of doing your business. The seat is heated for your seat, with buttons to adjust the temperature to your butt’s warming preferences. One you’re relieved, it’s time to activate the bidet for your bum, with streams of warm water shooting at your ritzy rear. Oh, and the toilet paper has the delicate scent of roses. I found you, Miss New Booty in a Japanese luxury lavatory. I felt so dignified with my polished posterior.
4: The public transportation.
Did I enter a futuristic utopia of clean, timely, and efficient transit?
If one thing impressed me most about Japan, it was mobility. The speed of the shinkansen. The usability of Japan Rail. The interconnectedness of Kyoto’s bus system. As a traveler, mobility is important. In the U.S., nothing can hold a candle to Japan. I’m from the Motor City, where public transit is virtually nonexistent. Transportation is something I’ll forever love about Japan.
5: The food displays.
Watch what you eat.
The only thing better than window shopping your next meal in Japan is actually eating it. Restaurants display a realistic faux food shrine ouside their business to show the cuisine available inside. From ramen to bento boxes to ornate parfaits, these food replicas are so artful and realistic, they’re nearly a tourist attraction themselves. Not only did these food dislays entice our tastebudes, they helped us figure out where to eat and what to order without worrying about the language barrier.
6: Cuteness, right meow.
Kawaii is King.
Japan is the birthplace of the intersection of sickeningly cute and adorable design. This distinctly Japanese cuteness is called kawaii. Hello Kitty and Gudetama and and Pusheen and anime… these are the things that illustrate kawaii. Animals and inanimate objects are given life and personality. From ads to trinkets to construction barrels and clothing, a corner isn’t tuned without some element of cute. When I saw these things, I’d think this is for kids. Then I’d realize, no, this is Japan. And I loved it. I felt like life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these cute, child-like things.
7: The cafe culture.
Would you like an owl with that latte?
Leave it to the Japanese to invest the quirkiest cafes. They’re the trendsetters of the unconventional, creating buzz and stirring curiosity to attract interested travelers to experience these unorthodox establishments for themselves. I feel like there’s a cafe committeee of over-caffienated creatives who sit around a table and brainstorm zany cafe concepts. In Japan, you can experience car cafes, owl cafes, mid cafes, monster cafes, bunny cafes, hedgehog cafes…
Read all about my Japan Owl Cafe experience.
What are you favorite things about Japan? What do you love about Japan?