It’s been a few years since we first visited Japan, but that trip was a huge milestone for us. It was Aaron’s first overseas journey, and it was a real dive into the deep end. It was the first major trip we took since our honeymoon (for which we had the assistance of a travel agent), and it was the first time I visited a place that did not speak my native language.
These 12 days are probably also largely responsible for the travel bugs that now fully infest our lives.
We learned a lot about travel and about ourselves with that trip, and we will always hold it in our hearts as that first little wanderlust nugget. These are some of the things we miss about Japan.. and some we don’t.
Things We miss:
- The cleanliness
- The utter lack of crime and constant sense of security
- The manners/respect/(not-so-)common courtesy
- Honesty and integrity with everyone – no one is out to scam you; no one will steal your things
- Omnipresent vending machines – with hot drinks
- Standing on one side of the escalators to allow others to walk on the other side (honestly, this just makes so much sense)
- No expectation of tipping
- Sane/non-intrusive homeless population
- Heated toilet seats
- The fun train station tones
- The expectation that most people walk (run) or bike
- The orderly lines to board the trains (allowing for others to get off first) – the fact that we haven’t figured this out yet marks us as inferior beings
- Awesome sushi track delivery
- Entertaining English
- Incredibly reliable and frequent trains
- Amazing food wherever you look
- Designated outdoor smoking areas (that are easy to avoid) and the societal discouragement from smoking elsewhere
- Everything is cute! From the maps and no smoking signs to graffiti and food
- JMTV – I could have this playing in the background all the time (though the videos would be understandably distracting)
- Cats EVERYWHERE
Things We don’t miss:
- The crazy/impatient drivers (though we have plenty of those here, too)
- The packed trains
- Bicycles on the sidewalks
- The need for so much cash
- The lack of language fluency (which I could change)
- Less respect for women
- High-pressure society
- Smoking in the restaurants
- The general disregard for the environment
Return trip bucket list (in no particular order):
- Cat Island(s)
- Go back to Fushimi Inari Shrine (during the day)
- Go back to the Arishiyama Bamboo Grove (during the night)
I seriously thought about what might have been my “most memorable moment,” but I really couldn’t come up with anything specific. Every day was a unique and exciting experience.
Overall, it was (of course) an incredible trip that has left us memories for a lifetime. We will go back, and the experiences there have already reshaped our lives. I can’t encourage others enough. Go to Japan. You won’t regret it.
What do you miss most about your favorite destination?
Psst… do you love reading about Japan? You might also enjoy these:
- 5 Lessons Learned as a Foreigner in Japan
- How to use Japanese Squat Toilets: Avoid Accidents and Go Like a Pro
- Cat Cafes in Japan
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