Since I have been in Japan for almost 4 months now, I decided I have become familiar enough with Japan to list the things I like and dislike about the Land of the Rising Sun. These lists will be based, not only on my experiences in Akita, but other cities I’ve visited as well, including Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.
This has been repeated time and time again, and I am here too repeat it for the umpteenth time. Public transportation in Japan is by far the best system I have ever had the pleasure of utilizing. The public transportation systems in Florida aren’t all that and certainly never run no time. In Florida if you miss the train, it’s another 20-45 minutes until the next one – if it’s on time. In Japan if you miss the train, no sweat – there’s another one coming in exactly 3 minutes. It’s not just the trains either, the buses are always on time and get you where you need to be, when you need to be there. While at first the task for figuring out the train system was a bit daunting, once I figured out how to get where I needed to go, navigating the labyrinth of lines and stations was easy.
In general here, things start promptly and end according to schedule. Be it a movie, a sports event, a festival, or a simple presentation – it will start and end on time. It’s refreshing and a nice change from what I am used to back home.
There is literally something for everybody – especially in major cities like Tokyo. In Harajuku alone, there are so many different types of shops – all catering to different audiences. From fashion gurus to history buffs to adventure lovers; there’s a bit of everything everywhere. This makes it easy to enjoy the things you like and discover new ones. Are you into comics and/or video games? Try an internet cafe. Are you into Japan’s history? There are a plethora of museums around Tokyo. Into Japan’s religion? There are temples and shrines galore, even in the heart of Tokyo.
In quiet areas like Akita, there are always plenty of cultural events to take part in, nature to explore, and sights to see.
3. Dining Out
Eating out in Japan is always a fun and new experience. While some elements remain the same; being given towels to clean your hands, being able to ring for your server, and speedy courteous service; many aspects vary depending on where you eat – making every outing an enjoyable one. Mostly, it is the food. The cuisine will vary with each establishment and Japan loves foreign foods. In addition to traditional Japanese restaurants and common hole-in-the-wall ramen shops, there are plenty of Indian, Chinese, Brazilian, Mexican-inspired, and Italian restaurants. There are also vegetarian restaurants, and even vegan ones. Even ordering Western food that I am familiar with, is always fun, due to the Japanese twist put on these foods; like having corn on my pizza or donuts made with tofu.
Japan is also fond of cafes, and they come in all manners of shapes, sizes, and service; from animal and maid cafes, to exclusive pop-up cafes.
Bonus: Safety and Honesty
I love that in Japan, if something is lost, it will just about always find it’s way back to you. I cannot count the number of times I have left my umbrella at the mall, and gone back to find it still there. Being able to wander about without fear of potentially losing something for good, is so refreshing. It also takes off that extra anxiety that comes with being in a foreign country.