What We Miss About Japan… And What We Don’t

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.

The bamboo grove in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

Things We miss:

A Japanese breakfast in Kyoto
  1. The cleanliness
  2. The utter lack of crime and constant sense of security
  3. The manners/respect/(not-so-)common courtesy
  4. Honesty and integrity with everyone – no one is out to scam you; no one will steal your things
  5. Omnipresent vending machines – with hot drinks
  6. Standing on one side of the escalators to allow others to walk on the other side (honestly, this just makes so much sense)
  7. No expectation of tipping
  8. Sane/non-intrusive homeless population
  9. Heated toilet seats
  10. The fun train station tones
A Japanese vending machine in Tokyo
An escalator in Tokyo, Japan
A Japanese sign with entertaining English in Kyoto
  1. The expectation that most people walk (run) or bike
  2. 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
  3. Awesome sushi track delivery
  4. Entertaining English
  5. Washlets
  6. Incredibly reliable and frequent trains
  7. Amazing food wherever you look
Close-up of a ramen bowl in Tokyo, Japan
  1. Designated outdoor smoking areas (that are easy to avoid) and the societal discouragement from smoking elsewhere
  2. Everything is cute!  From the maps and no smoking signs to graffiti and food
  3. JMTV – I could have this playing in the background all the time (though the videos would be understandably distracting)
A freeze-frame of a music video on JMTV in Japan
Cats along the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto, Japan

Things We don’t miss:

  1. The crazy/impatient drivers (though we have plenty of those here, too)
  2. The packed trains
  3. Bicycles on the sidewalks
  4. The need for so much cash
  5. The lack of language fluency (which I could change)
  6. Less respect for women
  7. High-pressure society
  8. Smoking in the restaurants
  9. The general disregard for the environment
Riders on a train in Tokyo, Japan

Return trip bucket list (in no particular order):

Yen coins gathered in a hat in Japan
  1. Cat Island(s)
  2. Go back to Fushimi Inari Shrine (during the day)
  3. Go back to the Arishiyama Bamboo Grove (during the night)
Visitors in yukata at an onsen in Tokyo, Japan
  1. Mt. Fuji
  2. Witness a street festival (Tanbata, etc.)
  3. Spend a day wandering in yukata/kimono
  4. Stay with a Japanese family for the day-to-day experience
  5. Hiroshima for the history
  6. Okinawa
  7. Go to a true onsen
  8. Owl cafe
  9. Have a watermelon on a Japanese beach

Final Thoughts

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.

People sitting at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan

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:

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Japan holds a special place in our hearts. There are many things we miss about this fascinating country.. and a few things we don't. Read about it here! | BIG tiny World Travel | #bigtinyworld #travel #japan #visitjapan

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