What is the act of traveling, without the refreshing experience of culture?
I had been fortunate enough to have traveled to many different countries during my childhood. But no country has left me so incredibly sad, overwhelmed, and with a surprisingly intense feeling of anxiety, as I had when I first left the city of Tokyo. (Now this may seem quite the contradiction to my blog post title, so let me explain…)
I had fallen so deeply in love with Japan, that I have actually started to feel a deep ‘separation anxiety-like’ feeling, every time I leave this beautiful country. And even after 3 separate trips (18 days in total) of no restrictions, absolutely no hesitations, and an incredibly intense rush of culture, food and an abundance of new experiences, I can definitely say that I have never been anywhere quite as unique and beautiful (in every sense possible) as Japan.
And thus… I give you my top 5 Reasons why Japan should be your next travel goal in 2018!
Japan is a country often suggested as a MUST-GO-TO in most, if not all, travel guides. But what exactly makes this a must for both avid and first-time travellers?
Reasons to travel to Japan:
1. The people and the culture of Omotenashi
Photo was taken at Shibuya Crossing
From the second you take your first steps on to any airport in Japan, you’ll immediately experience politeness and gratitude on a completely different level than anywhere else in the world. In what is usually a hectic, stressful and anxious environment, airports in Japan are calm, organized and really quite pleasant.
This is Omotenashi.
Omotenashi is the culture of hospitality, courtesy and the grand gesture of entertaining guests wholeheartedly. And it is immediately and consistently observable anywhere in Japan! From the clean public toilets, the eagerness and willingness of strangers and servicewomen and men, to help when a tourist is in need, down to the simplest availability of cleansing wipes at every restaurant, it’s like being in the environment of a 5 star hotel, and the entire country is the hotel lobby!
2. The impeccable food
Photo was taken in Kyoto
One of the most prominent reasons behind why I get so sad whenever I leave Japan is knowing that the fat kid inside me, will no longer bask in the reality of continuously delicious, fresh and un-fussy Japanese food. If you believe your own experience of Japanese cuisine is already defined as awe-some, think again!
All the best and most recognized Japanese Chefs all over the world, are all always associated and idolized for the way they have mastered traditional techniques of cooking their cuisine and incorporating them in their own innovative ways of cooking. It’s the type of cooking you’d expect featured on every culinary magazine in the market. But what most people don’t know is, the way these chefs cook, and the time they take to train and master their way of cooking, isn’t unique, but rather, the most accepted way of learning in Japanese culture. And this is exactly why you need to make this a goal-to-achieve in 2018.
What’s their secret to great food?
In Japan, both traditional and commercial culinary hotspots, have one thing in common. You will always find a chef, who had learned the techniques of cooking their food from their ancestors, and most often than not, they have mastered doing one or a few special dishes, after 20, 30, even 50 years of training. And it is for this very reason that we can taste and experience food that is just perfectly balanced and prepared, all over Japan, at surprisingly affordable prices.
Spending $100 on a plate of Sushi will give you the very best Sushi in Japan… But spending $20 on a plate of Sushi doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll taste worst than the expensive choice. In fact, the $20 Sushi plate will give you the ingredients from the same market, prepared with the same traditional techniques. So even at a cheaper price, it is still the very best in the world.
It’s the Japanese culture’s respect for their traditions and their food, that guarantees an incredible dining experience, every meal of the day, even at the most affordable prices! (Even their food from 7/11 is surprisingly outstanding)
3. Ease of transportation
I have 3 words for you when it comes to the transportation in Japan.
- EASY – They have made everything from buses, trains, boats/ferries, cabs and even bicycles, so easy to understand and to use. The staff are always ready to help and will almost, always go out of their way to help lost tourists!
- CLEAN – Everything is clean. And I am not exaggerating. The Japanese believe that filth or any form of littering, even any foul or off-putting odors on trains or buses, is a sign of disrespect. If there’s anyone who feels ill or under the weather, they usually wear masks to guarantee that no one else catches their cold. And 98% of the time, the toilet facilities are immaculate!
- ON-TIME – (…technically 4 words) Their transportation systems have an incredible way of staying right on schedule, almost every time. And it is so convenient when you are planning a trip!!!
4. It is a lot more affordable than what most people believe it to be!
Japan has the reputation for being an expensive destination of choice for travelers. But it isn’t as expensive as most people think!
First of all, it seems expensive, as anyone needing a visa to enter the country, is required to have at least $300 per day of their stay before approved for a visa. This is mandatory, but it doesn’t at all mean that one needs to spend $300 a day on their trip.
MONEY SAVING HACKS IN JAPAN:
Travelling around the most expensive cities in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka) is definitely affordable due to their bus and train systems. Every trip on the train ranges between $2-$8, depending on the distance. Buses aren’t far from this price range either.
Tip: Make sure you travel within the bus and train schedule before their services stop at 12am every day, or else you’ll have no choice but to ride a cab, and these are very pricey!
The food isn’t as expensive as most people believe it to be. But if you are aiming to taste the best of the best, it can become pricey after every meal.
Tip: Eat at the expensive places during lunchtime, because consumer demand during the evening results to meal prices rising up to 50%.
Tip: Eat at 7/11 or convenience stores as they have an incredible choice of fresh (and delicious) meals at affordable prices (Gyoza, Ramen, Sushi, Rice and Nori wraps, Sandwiches, Yakitori, Buns all ranging between $2-$3)
As a consistently growing prominent tourist destination, you can easily find affordable hostels and Airbnb’s in most cities in Japan.
Tip: Book these at least 4 months before your trip, to find the best deals!
5. It is simply, BEAUTIFUL
Need I say more?
Let me know if you have any questions about traveling to Japan, and I can give you great tips to get your 2018 MUST-GO-TO Travel plans going!