Oh Japan, it’s more than putting into words. It’s not like anything you have seen before. Once you start your very first day in Japan, you feel like you are in some kind of simulation. Simulation how? Like in the Matrix, you wired up to a machine and you find yourself in a perfectly designed city, clean and quiet with the nicest people too good to be true. In our case, we entered the simulation by our overnight flight to Tokyo and started our virtual adventure as soon as we landed.
First thing to notice, there is this silence ruling the country. No matter if it’s an enormous city like Tokyo or a small town named Oboke, Japan is extremely quiet. I remember my boyfriend told me on our first day, when we were trying to find our AirBnb, he said can you believe how quiet is everywhere? I was like wow, yeah, your are right, wow, even out there with the busy streets… Unbelievable how they suppress the noise in such mega cities.
The other major thing to notice is its cleanliness. There is no garbage on the streets, no dirt, no stain or dust on the sidewalks and roads. The asphalt looks brand new like yesterday. Even the car tires has no dust on it. Everybody is minding their own business and keep it calm and quiet in public areas, they even sleep while standing up in the subway or sitting in a restaurant. People are taking serious what they are doing and doing it professionally, coming to result of all the services they give is absolutely perfect. This fact is noticeable everywhere, specially with the food, the drinks, the technology, the transportation you are taking, the hotel you are staying.. It didn’t take me too long that this is a standard speciality for Japan.
And of course, the people are extremely nice, respectful, smiley and helpful. They are the best so far I witnessed on this planet. I literally believe Japanese people behavior should be taken as an example and even taught as a lesson.
This high level of order and excellence makes you think you are in this simulation, feeling unreal. But when you dive in culture, the nature, the city life, the food, experience all with the locals, you will feel it’s real more than anything.
As everybodys knows, Japan is expensive but that doesn’t mean budget travel is impossible.
Food: Eating from the stores is cheap only if you manage the stop yourself eating all the amazing food.
Transportation: Can’t avoid the expensive public transportation costs though. Forget about taxis since they are pricey. Only tip would be, plan ahead and carefully, walk between locations in the cities. If you’re gonna ride the subway/bus many many times, get a day pass; if you’re gonna ride these only one/two/three times a day then go with the single ticket. You can also ask the tourist information centers for the cheapest ticket/transportation options. They are super helpful. Check here to find out does it worth to buy a JR pass or not.
Accommodation: Hostels in Japan are very very nice and they usually have fixed prices which can be considered neither expensive nor cheap. For smaller cities, hotels usually have great cheap deals daily on booking.com. AirBnb also an option but they are also not the cheapest.
Nightlife: All bars, clubs even cafes(maid cafe, cat cafe, etc.) take cover charge. If you are lucky enough to find a non touristy place, nightlife can be slightly cheaper and definitely a lot of fun with the locals.
Places To Go in Japan
Tokyo is a must as the mega city in a perfect order, most lively and crazy scenes. Kyoto is a must as the historical heart of Japan. Osaka is to witness another big city life more with locals, away from tourists. Check out Osaka events calendar. The events might not be the most famous ones in Japan but there is plenty of events and make sure to participate them to have a true local experience.
Hakone for onsens and Mt. Fuji view. Central Japan referred as Japanese Alps, great for hiking, onsens and admire the nature. Takayama is a good option to have it all, comes with a folk village. Perfect place to stay in a ryokan. Kanazawa for a fun small city experience with the locals and has a large fish market you cannot miss.
Hiroshima for the history. Miyajima for a cozy day trip. Shikoku Island is the least popular destination for tourists which makes perfect for nature and local life; Tokushima and Iya Valley.
When To Go- Japan is perfect enough to visit all year round. Best time to go is between end of August and beginning of November. It will be always crowded and expensive but try to avoid cherry blossom season between March and May. No matter how beautiful the country is on this season, you have to face much much higher flight and accommodation rates, crazy crowds, looooong lines everywhere. Booking and planing in advance is absolutely required.
Things You Cannot Miss in Japan
- Sing at Karaoke bars. They are everywhere. Do it with local people.
- Buy a Yukata. Yukata is a great alternative to kimono which is cheaper. You can find them at second hand shops in Kyoto.
- Eat okonomiyaki, ramen, sushi bowl, sushi rolls, rice sandwich, octopus balls, tempura with chicken, pork and shrimp, dumplings, Kobe beef, steamed bun, cheesecake, cheeseburger, salmon pizza, matcha ice cream, matcha cheesecake.
- Drink sake, Japanese whiskey, Japanese beer, green tea beer, highball.
- Use vending machines on the streets. Try every single drink from them.
- Play with the buttons on toilets. It’s very entertaining.
- Watch sumo wrestle. 6 tournaments available every year.
- Stay in a ryokan. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese style inn. They are expensive but totally worth the experience even for 1 night.
- Relax in onsen. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring with thousand of it around Japan.
- Ride shinkansen. The shinkansen is a high-speed railway line a.k.a. the bullet train.
- Drink at craft beer bars.
- Take a tour at department store underground food falls.
- Go mad playing video games at multi-storey shops in Akihabara, Tokyo.
- Stop by at 100 Yen shops and brave the crowds.
- Have fun taking your photos in a photo booth and make a Japanese way of memories. The booths are called “Purikura”. You can find them at game centers.