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, to spend a month exploring Japan. It wasn’t long before we realised just how amazing of a country it is. We read stories and blog posts, watched an endless amount of videos and did as much research as possible before booking anything.
Although research and incredible 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 10 best things about Japan. One of the most unique, safe, food-focussed and friendly countries in the world.
10 of the best things about Japan, and what we loved the most!
1. THE PEOPLE
One of the things that stood out most about Japan, was how friendly everybody was. I don’t think we came across an unfriendly or rude Japanese person throughout our entire month long visit. Everybody is more than willing to help and offer their assistance when they see somebody struggling. Quite a few times while trying to navigate train stations, we had strangers come up to us and ask if we needed any help or direct us to an elevator when they saw us struggling with our luggage. If you ever need anything while in Japan, don’t be afraid to ask. You’ll be shocked to experience such a widely friendly and genuinely kind group of people.The Japanese are some of the friendliest people I've ever met! Click To Tweet
2. 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. Like everywhere in the world, I’m sure there are areas within Japan that aren’t as safe. But for the most part, I felt very at ease and comfortable exploring even the overwhelmingly busy capital city, Tokyo.
Even the train and subway stations are incredibly safe, which is even better news for solo travelers. If you decide to explore Japan alone, I’m happy to report and confirm that it is one of the safest places in the world to visit. That being said, as a general rule when traveling (especially solo travel) it’s best to always have common sense and remain alert.
3. THE CONVENIENCE STORES
Japanese convenience stores are epic. If I could choose one overall, stand-out thing from our time in Japan, is would absolutely be the convenience stores. I’m sure that sounds really sad, but it’s true! These stores literally have everything you could possibly need, at incredibly cheap prices.
Here are some of the different items you’ll find:
- Healthy ready-to-eat meals
- Freshly made sandwiches
- Umbrellas & ponchos
- Alcohol (super, duper cheap alcohol)
- Bottled water in all shapes and sizes
- Soft drinks
- Hot and cold coffee/tea
- A huge variety of snacks – pretzels, chips, chocolate, baked goods, ice cream, hot food etc
- Personal hygiene products
- Newspapers & magazines
- Everyday household and travel items – batteries, general cooking utensils,
What makes Japanese convenience stores even better, is that they’re everywhere. You can usually find one on almost every street corner. Other than food, beverages and everyday items, you can also: withdraw money, pay bills and purchase tickets for various attractions in the Japanese city you’re visiting!
Australia doesn’t have anything like these wonderful stores, so it was a fascinating and enjoyable experience for us!
4. THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
One of the things we underestimated most about Japan, was the public transport system. Before arriving in Japan, we knew that it was a very punctual and well-run country. Everything and everyone is on time, there is a system in place for absolutely everything, and the pure convenience is world class.
But the public transport system in particular, runs smoother than anything else we’ve experienced! The train stations are incredibly easy to navigate, considering all of the signage is (obviously) in Japanese. To make it easy for travelers and tourists, anything related to public transport travel, is also written in the English translation. In most major cities within Japan, during day-time hours, there can be a train as frequently as every 2 minutes.
I’m from South Australia, and we have the horrid Adelaide Metro bus and train service. I hate to be blunt, but Japan’s train service shits all over good ol’ Adelaide’s. Sorry Adelaide. I love you, but it’s true.
5. THE VENDING MACHINES
If there’s one thing I can guarantee anyone who has an upcoming visit to Japan, it’s that you’ll never go thirsty. There are vending machines on every corner. In winter they sell hot and cold drinks. In summer they generally only sell cold drinks. They are usually placed in high-traffic areas, and can be found on almost every corner, no matter which part of Japan you’re in.
6. The alcohol
If you’ve been a reader for a while now, you’ll know that Russell and I love our alcohol. He’s a big supporter of the whisky industry, and I keep Australia’s wineries in business. Alcohol in Japan is not only super cheap, it’s also legal to consume on the streets!
Australia has very strict alcohol laws, especially in the part of Australia where we are currently living. So it was strange going to a place where the laws are so different, and I was able to drink a bottle of Smirnoff on the street.
I won’t lie, that’s probably one of the main reasons I would move to Japan. That’s not sad, right? 😉
7. Heated toilet seats
This is something that I truly miss. Being able to sit on a warm toilet seat, in the middle of winter, when getting up during the night to pee? Amazing. I don’t know how I survived 25 years of my life without heated toilet seats, but now that I’m home in Australia, I miss them dearly.
8. The combination of big cities and beautiful nature
Even if you are spending a week in Tokyo, you will still be able to experience and explore tons of beautiful parks and gardens around the city. There is such a wide variety of scenery within Japan, whether you’re in the big cities or the countryside. You will always be able to find a relaxing place to spend the morning or afternoon, that you’ve never seen before. Not to mention to large array of temples and shrines, for that little bit of beautiful Japanese history, to break up the craziness of Japan’s big cities.
9. Japanese snacks and cup noodles
I’ll be honest, I personally don’t think that anything can beat the range of snacks that you’ll find in Australia. We have some pretty delicious, totally unhealthy foods. Maybe it’s the convenience, or the super cheap prices, but Japan’s snack foods are awesome. There is such a large variety, and half the time, you won’t know what you’re eating. But that’s half the fun! The chocolates in particular, are delicious!
And cup noodles – well, what else would you expect?! Convenience stores stock a ton of different varieties of cup noodles, for super cheap. Towards the end of our trip, when we had hardly any money, I ate cup noodles for almost every meal. But hey, why not. They’re delicious, and I got pretty good at using chopsticks!
Tip: Yokohama even has a Cup Noodle Museum! 😱 Read all about that, here!
10. The shopping
No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone in Japan. Tokyo’s Akihabara is the gaming hub of Japan. Harajuku is where you should go for a more fun and crazy style of clothing. Osaka’s Dotonbori is absolutely insane, and you’ll be bumping shoulders with people no matter what time of day you go, but the shopping is awesome. Japan was one of the best shopping experiences I have ever had. There’s something for everyone, of all ages. So if you love to shop up a storm, you’ll love Japan!
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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