I have been back from my seven day trip to Japan for almost two weeks now and I am experiencing Japan withdrawals.
It probably sounds like I want to talk about Japan and tips on withdrawing money from the ATM, which, there are many tips and advice out there on. However, my main focus is how since coming back to Hawaii, I am missing the culture and being in Japan in general.
Funtaneity and Positivity
In a world surrounded by American media that highlights the negative news than anything else, it is easy to miss the multitude of game shows that is hard to miss (it’s basically on every channel) when you turn on the television or walk through the streets and see it above on the large-screened TVs as people walk/commute to their destinations. It is also very safe to walk around alone, both in Tokyo, and in other prefectures. Sure, there are many who stroll around drunk after work, but, they did no harm. Just know where to avoid during the evening, and you are pretty much safe everywhere else.
It is easy to miss the accessibility to areas near and far without needing to jump in a car, travel through traffic, and look for (free) parking. Owning a car has plagued me of spending more than my whole paycheck many a times in America. Using Japan’s transit system – bus, subway, monorail, bullet train – spoiled me rotten and allowed me to experience a glimpse of the good life. It is silly to say being without a car is “the good life,” however, with a transit system as a efficient as those in Japan, it is easy to rely on without worries about your oil, engine, gas status, and whether your car will be safe. Also, one last point about this part of missing Japan… Japan’s stations aren’t just for trains. They utilized the train station space most effectively as they can. These train stations are also malls, business offices, house a slew of restaurants and shops, and supermarkets. Efficiency, got to love it.
Food & Drink Accessibility
I did not think that this would have been a factor, seriously. Obviously, I love food more than I care to admit, so, this factored in greatly in the end. First off, the food is damned good! Damned good. I cannot stress that enough. You also do not have to always strive to eat at a restaurant to eat quality food. If you go to certain street markets, you’ll find amazing food in the smallest and quaintest of shops. Don’t knock off anything, be open to trying them all! Japan allows you to drink alcohol legally in public – train stations, at a sidewalk, etc. Not only that, they have awesome vending machines that allow you to buy these drinks, and other drinks, hot and cold! Vending machines are not just for drinks, but, also for food. Spicy chicken from a vending machine? You would think that would sound nuts, but, it tastes pretty freaking amazing. Besides vending machines, combini, or convenience stores, are just that…. CONVENIENT! Placed on almost every two or three street corners, combinis are at the locals and visitors convenience. They provide pretty quality and cheap food and drink for those on the go, a place for you to withdraw money from an ATM, or a place for you to buy a mask, umbrella, gloves, scarf, razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, or anything you can think of that you forgot to bring out during your day.
I am in no way an introvert. Ask my family and all my friends. I talk to everyone and anyone. However, in lieu of their extremely polite culture, it is customary or the Japanese to go on about their day without talking to the hundreds of people they commute with going to and from their destinations. It was nice to not have to make small talk with people. Even if you don’t speak the language, you can definitely go by with little-to-none language skills, because, for example – although you’re being welcomed loudly into a restaurant or shop, you don’t even need to respond. In America, I’m used to exclaiming, “Hi,” or “Hello,” or “Good insert time of day here,” upon being welcomed into a store or restaurant. Upon observation at the malls after coming back home, I am definitely not the only one.
These are a few things that I miss about Japan. Granted there are many more. I cannot wait to travel to Japan again and experience it all over again and even more new things!