Japan is a weird and wonderful place. I didn’t really know too much about the country before Russell and I decided to book our first international trip together, where we would spend a month exploring Japan. It wasn’t long before we realised just how amazing the country really is. We read stories and blog posts, watched an endless amount of videos and did as much research as possible before booking anything. We wanted to find out what other people thought were the best things about Japan.

The Top 20 Best Things About Japan | Rhiannon Travels

Although doing research and watching videos made our decision a no brainer, we still weren’t expecting Japan to be as amazing as it was. If you’re looking for your next travel destination, have a read through what we found to be the 20 best things about Japan. One of the most beautiful, traditional, modern, unique, safe, foodie heaven and friendly countries in the world.

The Top 20 Best Things About Japan

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

The people

These aren’t in any particular order, but I feel as though I should mention this one first. Japanese locals are definitely the nicest group of people we have ever met, and probably the nicest people we will ever meet. At no point during our month long stay in Japan, did we come across a Japanese local that wouldn’t go out of their way to help us.

Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, helpful and a joy to be around. There was more than one occasion during our four weeks in Japan, where we must have looked confused or lost. I know this because we had people offer their help, purely out of the goodness of their hearts.

One woman stopped us on the street in Osaka, while we were heading to the train station on our way to Hiroshima, to ask if we needed directions.

Another young woman saw we were struggling with our luggage in a Tokyo train station, and pointed us in the direction of an elevator we didn’t know was there. Honestly, if you ever need help while in Japan, don’t be afraid to ask. You will be shocked to experience such a widely friendly and genuinely kind group of people.

The convenience stores

There’s only one word for Japanese convenience stores: epic. If I could choose one overall, stand-out thing about our time in Japan, it would absolutely be the convenience stores. I’m sure for most of you, that’s probably a super sad thing to admit. But we don’t have anything like them here in Australia. At least not in Adelaide where we are from.

Japan convenience stores sell a huge variety of snacks, hot and cold drinks, hot food, alcohol, toiletries, cigarettes, everyday household items and so much more. Plus, everything is incredibly cheap. So if you’re ever in a jam and need an emergency umbrella or quick bite to eat, visit one of Japan’s millions of convenience stores.

The Best Things About Japan: What I Loved & Miss The Most

Vending machines

I can guarantee one thing to anyone who is visiting Japan for the first time: you will never go thirsty. There are vending machines on literally every single corner. Some even have more than one vending machine.

In winter, you’ll find a combination of hot and cold beverages. During summer, there are generally only cold drinks available. In bigger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, there are even more vending machines located almost everywhere you go, some even selling unique items that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Here’s a fun game: every time you come across a vending machine, buy something that you haven’t tried before. Most items are around 100 yen, so it’s a super cheap and fun way to experience Japan’s quirky food and beverages!

It’s a very safe country

Japan is definitely the safest country I have ever visited. Russell and I traveled together, but even if I had traveled alone, I would have felt perfectly safe walking down the street by myself at night. Just like everywhere in the world, I’m sure there are parts of Japan that aren’t entirely safe. But generally speaking, I felt very comfortable exploring even the overwhelmingly busy Tokyo.

Even the train stations are incredibly safe, which is great news for solo travelers. If you decide to explore Japan alone, I’m happy to confirm that it is one of the safest places in the world to visit. That being said, it’s always best to have common sense and remain alert, especially when traveling alone.

Japan’s train system

One of the things we underestimated most about Japan, is the public transport system. Before arriving in Japan, we knew that it is a very punctual and smoothly run country. Everything and everyone is on time, and there is a system in place for absolutely everything. Not to mention the pure convenience of having almost everything you need, at super easy access.

The public transport system in particular though, runs more smoothly than anything else we’ve ever experienced. Given the fact that we were westerners in an Asian country, we expected to see little to no English. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. The signage in (almost) every train station is written in both English and Japanese.

Other than trains being precisely on time (if you’re 10 seconds late to the station, too bad, you’ve missed the train) in most major Japanese cities during day-time hours, trains run as frequently as every two minutes. This came in handy quite a few times, when we were hesitant to catch a particular train incase it took us in the wrong direction.

The Shinkansen Bullet Train

This is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. If you’re not familiar with the Shinkansen Bullet Train, it’s a super high-speed train that takes Japanese locals and international visitors, between cities across Japan.

We used the Shinkansen five times during our month long visit to Japan, and never got sick of it. It’s essentially an airplane for the ground, and is an awesome way to travel around Japan. I’ve written an entire post about the Shinkansen Bullet Train and the Japan Rail Pass that you’ll need to use it. So click here to check that out.

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Heated toilet seats

This is probably one one of the things I miss the most. Being able to sit on a warm toilet seat, in the middle of winter when getting up during the night to pee, is something that I could definitely get used to.

Although we only had this experience for one month, I don’t know how I’ve survived 25 years of life without heated toilet seats. They are a game changer, especially in winter. Come on, Australia. Why isn’t this a thing yet? Or maybe it is, and I’m just totally left in the dark.

If for no other reason, please visit Japan to experience their heated toilet seats. You won’t regret it. I promise.

Japan’s snacks and Cup of Noodles

I’ll be honest, I personally don’t think that anything can beat the incredible snacks that you’ll find in Australia. We have some pretty delicious, super unhealthy foods.

Maybe it’s the convenience, or the wildly cheap prices, but Japan’s snack foods are awesome. There is such a large variety, and half the time you won’t even know what you’re eating. But that’s half the fun. Not to mention the Cup of Noodles. You’ll find a huge variety in convenience stores and vending machines, for super low prices.

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Towards the end of our trip when we had barely any money left, I ate cup noodles for almost every meal. They were delicious, and I got pretty good at using chopsticks, too.

Combination of modern and beautifully traditional 

All over Japan, you’ll notice there is a wonderful combination of both incredibly modern and beautifully traditional. Even in Japan’s busy capital of Tokyo, you can be shopping for quirky fashion one minute, and be strolling through a beautiful garden on your way to a shrine or temple the next.

You will always be able to find a relaxing place to spend the morning or afternoon. Not to mention the large array of temples and shrines, for that little bit of beautiful Japanese history, to break up the craziness of Japan’s big cities.

There are so many things to see and do in Japan

It would literally take an entire lifetime to experience everything there is to see and do in Japan. We visited for one month, and didn’t even scratch the surface. Not only are there dozens of incredible cities and prefectures to explore, there are tons of small towns and off-the-beaten-path experiences to be had.

I’ve written a post with our month long itinerary, sharing everything we did during our four weeks in Japan. This should give you a brief insight into just how huge Japan really is, and how many incredible things there are to see and do all over the country.

Japanese cuisine

I’m not a foodie, in fact I’m quite the opposite. I’m a picky eater and always have been, so I tend to stick to what I know. But Russell had a blast trying all sorts of crazy Japanese cuisine. Whether you love red meat, seafood or crazy snacks and desserts – Japan will feel like heaven. Dotonbori in Osaka is one of the best places to go to experience some of Japan’s best food, so be sure to add Osaka to your bucket list.

Other than Japanese cuisine, you’ll find a ton of western options available if you’re like me and stick to the basics. From McDonalds to Subway, KFC and plenty more – there’s a wide variety of options to choose from.

Japan’s love of gaming

Now, although I don’t technically play video games, I do enjoy watching Russell play them. There are certain areas within Japan, that are a gaming lovers heaven.

Akihabara in Tokyo is one of the brightest, bustling, exciting and unique places I’ve ever been. There are an endless array of stores to browse until you run out of money or the store itself closes – whichever comes first. So bring along plenty of cash, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to leave with a suitcase filled with gaming goodies.

Cherry Blossom season (Sakura)

We visited Japan at the beginning of Cherry Blossom season, which begins in April. This is one of the busiest times of the year in Japan, and it’s easy to see why.

The Top 20 Best Things About Japan | Rhiannon Travels

For a few weeks at the end of March to middle of April, Cherry Blossom trees (or Sakura) bring beautiful, breath-taking colour to streets and gardens all over Japan. It’s quite an incredible sight, and if you plan your trip perfectly, you may be able to experience the falling petals.

We had unfortunately already returned to Australia when the petals began to fall, but it was still an amazing experience witnessing the gradual blossoming of the trees and Sakura petals during our last week or so in Japan.

Japan’s Gardens and parks

Japan has a seemingly endless amount of beautiful gardens and parks. Some cost a small entry fee, some are entirely free to wander around. My favourite two gardens were Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. These are both incredible gardens, and although they cost around 300 yen to enter, I truly believe it’s worth it.

There’s something so relaxing and peaceful about Japanese gardens, and is another one of the best things about Japan, and a big reason why I miss the country so much.

The shopping in Japan

No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone in Japan. Tokyo’s Akihabara is the gaming hub of Japan. Takeshita Street in Harajuku is perfect for experiencing Tokyo’s quirky fashion scene. Osaka’s Dotonbori is absolutely insane, and you’ll be bumping shoulders with people no matter which time of day you go (but the shopping is totally worth it).

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Japan was one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had. There’s something for everyone, and if I didn’t run out of money, I would have definitely needed a second suitcase.

The Best Things About Japan: 10 Things I Loved and Miss The Most

Being able to purchase alcohol from convenience stores (and vending machines)

If you’re a regular reader, you would already know that we both love alcohol. Not in a way that you should be concerned. I simply like a glass or three of wine, and Russell is a big supporter of the Whisky industry.

Not only is alcohol in Japan incredibly cheap, it’s also legal to consume on the streets. You can bet your bottom dollar I took full advantage of this. We live in Australia where takeaway alcohol can only be purchased from a bottle shop, so it was pretty fun drinking vodka on the streets of Tokyo.

I’m not gonna lie: that’s probably my second reason why I miss Japan so much, and would move there tomorrow if I could.

Japan’s convenience and punctuality 

If you thought the fact that there’s a vending machine on every corner is convenient, wait until you experience things like using an elevator. Other than the trains running precisely on time and being able to drink alcohol while exploring the streets of Japan, there is even a system in place for using an elevator.

In all cities except Osaka, it’s customary for people to stand on the left side of the elevator, leaving the right side free for people who want to walk up or down. This was so strange to us, but it was incredibly helpful and convenient. I even find myself getting annoyed at people in Australia who don’t do this.


I feel the need to mention Hiroshima separately, because I adored it that much. For a city with such a devastating history, it’s one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I’ve ever visited.

From the beautiful Hiroshima Peace Park and Memorial to the incredible Shukkeien Garden, there are plenty of things to see and do. We spent two full days in Hiroshima, and to this day, I still wish we stayed longer. The people are some of the kindest I’ve ever met, the streets are 100% clear of any rubbish and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

A Day In Hiroshima, Japan: Peace Park + Museum, Shukkeien Garden and Hiroshima CastleA Day In Hiroshima, Japan: Peace Park + Museum, Shukkeien Garden and Hiroshima Castle

If you get the chance, please visit Hiroshima and see for yourself, just how wonderful the city truly is.

Japan’s countryside

We spent a couple of days in Nagano, which is a town in the Northern Japan Alps. We visited at the end of the snow season, which is the main reason we decided to detour north on our way to Tokyo, and I’m so glad we did! Japan’s countryside is absolutely stunning, and although I can only share my experience about a snow covered countryside, I’m almost positive it’s just as beautiful during the rest of the year.

The fact that we loved Japan so much, we are returning one year later

I’m sure this post has subtly shown you just how much we absolutely adore Japan. There are so many unique and wonderful things about the country, that we have decided to return, just over one year after our first visit! So prepare to read more about Japan in 2018, because I guarantee I will have a lot to talk about!

So there you have it. The 10 best things about Japan (in my opinion, anyway). There’s so much to love about Japan. It’s an amazing country, with incredible people and a ton to see and do. If you’ve visited before, tell me in the comments what you think the best things about Japan are! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The Top 20 Best Things About Japan | Rhiannon Travels The Top 20 Best Things About Japan | Rhiannon Travels

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!


Rhiannon is a travel blogger from Adelaide, Australia. Together with her partner, they have been traveling the world for around two years, and hope to not only visit every country in the world one day, but also live in Japan. Rhiannon started this blog back in September 2016, and has been helping people just like you, travel the world with ease!