One Life To LiveJuly 14, 2017
What Vitamin SEA Does For MeJuly 29, 2017
You can always do research on a place, in fact, you should always do research on a destination before you travel there. However, you never really know what to expect until you arrive.
That is exactly how I felt about Japan. From the moment my husband and I arrived at Haneda International Airport, I was a little overwhelmed (in a good way). There is definitely a language barrier, but you have to remember you are across the globe in Asia. Do not be afraid to ask around to see if someone speaks your language, and can be of assistance. My husband and I did this often. The Japanese are eager to help, if they’re able to. I had a stranger come up to me asking how he could assist with directions…nothing beats that!
1. One of the things that sets Japan apart is their culture’s kindness and respectfulness. The Japanese are some of the kindest and most gentle people I have ever encountered. They are quiet, and extremely attentive to others. I witnessed this first hand when I was a tour guide in Hawaii, and a family bowed to me as a sign of thanks. The bowing can go on for several minutes. It sort of leads to this bowing competition that results in smiles and laughter. I loved it. Another example of respectfulness I found in Japan was how no one crossed an intersection until permitted. Also, the streets are free of litter, which is extremely impressive because there is a major lack of trashcans in the city streets.
2. Now it is time to talk transportation…one of my favorite experiences, and another thing that sets this country apart. Forget the planes and automobiles; it is all about the trains here. Their train system is A-MAZING. From the subway, to the JR rail, to my personal favorite, the shinkansen. *Cue the perfect twinkle sound that lets riders know when their train is approaching…music to my ears, literally.
The shinkansen is a high-speed railway that many refer to as a “bullet train” in English. The train’s job is to get you to your destination the fastest way possible. To put things into perspective, the fastest (up to 200mph) Nozomi train allows passengers to travel from Tokyo to Osaka in just 2 hours and 30 minutes. That is approximately a 6-hour trip by car, so incredible! Being a travel and public transportation lover, it blew my mind. The trains are clean, comfortable, and even offer a snack cart. My one recommendation is to take the time to reserve your seat so you know you have a definite spot, you can even land a window seat to sneak a peek at Mt. Fuji in the distance if you’re heading south from Tokyo. There is the option to ride unreserved; it simply depends on your traveler mindset. The Japan Rail Pass is an essential if you want to see the most popular destinations in Japan, and save money while doing so!
3. I’m not sure if you’ve heard…but Japan is a FOOD MECCA. The country has way more to offer than just sushi (not to mention the best sushi I have ever had in my life)…add in ramen, squid jerky, matcha flavored everything, Lawson’s, and so much more. Time to break it all down for you. Yes, sushi is amazing in Japan, but quite honestly don’t expect it to be on every menu that exists. It is a food that is associated with Japan, but I learned in our cooking class at Cooking Sun that sushi is not an every day kind of food. Most families eat it for a special occasion, due to the high amount of sugar that is used to make the sticky rice. If you enjoy cooking in the slightest, check out the studio’s website for more information on their fabulous offerings. We had a blast making our own bento box! If you are looking to eat some of the best sushi the world has to offer, head to the fish markets. You have a few choices here...the most popular and busiest attraction is Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest in the world. It is pure chaos, as you can imagine. They are a fully operating business that has to deal with tourists coming in and out of their workplace each day. You may get some nasty looks, especially if you bring out your camera. It is highly frowned upon; you won’t miss the signs that are posted around every corner ;) I did not try any sushi here (I know, I know)…the lines were crazy and if I am being honest, John and I did not bring enough cash to truly indulge – amateur hour! Instead, we walked a little further and found a side street that prompted beautiful sushi, in a more casual atmosphere. The sashimi literally melted in our mouth, UNREAL. This is where I sampled the infamous squid jerky as well, I could have gone without it…I’ll let you be the judge on that one.
If you’re traveling to Japan you need to be adventurous when it comes to your taste buds. It is a totally different world when it comes to cuisine, and truly a learning experience. I am going to dive more into the food culture in a separate post. I leave you with just a taste of what Japan taught us, now it’s your turn to go see what this beautiful country has to offer…