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Decided To Visit The Land of Rising Sun? Please, Here Are Some Tips To Absorb the Culture With Honour and No Regrets! :)

Make sure you get the most out of Japan.

Image: Helena Cuerva/ pixabay

We, Westerners often take holidays as it’s owned to us, like party loudly till the sunrise on the beach, and do what we want ‘as we are on holiday!’. However, if you choose to visit Japan, you probably want to explore cultural peculiarities, as they have such a different, in a way weird way. Good weird way. Let’s say BE MINDFUL of this beautiful country as so many things are done in a way you haven’t seen elsewhere. I broke down into 4 categories what I think you should defo bear in mind and try out whilst in Japan.

  1. ETIQUETTE & RESPECT

1.1 Let’s put it this way – the Japanese are a nation of manners, obeying the rules and respect of all beings. That’s right, cleanliness around urban areas is an obligatory part of their values. Therefore I genuinely advise you to behave in their territory, doesn’t mean not to feel relaxed! Explaining: Don’t find it surprising to not find where to put your trash, let’s say you got their Melon Soda whilst on a tour bus – afraid you’ll have to leave it in your bag until you find a bin.

Image: Branzer / Pixabay

But! You might not want to drink that Soda in public in the first place, as Japanese find it unattractive to eat, drink or smoke in public, hence… Hence, there is a lack of bins! see logic? kool, it’s not a taboo, just be mindful 🙂 

1.2 When eating out – two tips: no tips! yeah, please don’t leave waiters stressing because they will feel awkward not knowing what to do with that cash.

Image: MISAWA AIR BASE

And also, when paying over the counter – try and remember to not hand in payment directly to cashier’s hands – this is another etiquette point. They usually have a cash tray next to them. 

In other way of expressing respect to the culture is NOT to do the following: 

1.3 No Jaywalking please. In fact, instead of begging you I warn you (ironic giggle) : it’s illegal ! don’t ask me the details, but I think it ties down to the fact of obedience I mentioned at the start and general safety of the people in public.

Image: MaxPixel

1.4 Don’t do these Western things we all got used to (I hate it myself, but we know majority still does that…): Abundance of selfies wherever, with whoever… Please avoid geishas and maiko’s – trainee geishas!

Image: Needpix.com

Reason being is simple, let’s remember their looks aren’t for public display – it’s their work attire, I know it gets you even more jealous as you now remembered you office suit or casual jeans with nike trabs you are wearing on a Friday. Another important point of respect.

1.5 Firstly, You must visit Sagano Bamboo Forest in Kyoto – but don’t carve your beautiful name on these one of a kind UNESCO-herited trees.

Image: Wiki Commons

This one of the most scenic spots to visit in Japan is the bamboo grove, where more than 100 names in English, Chinese and Korean have been found as evidence of vandalism by the the local authorities. Please don’t join this childish behaviour and the trees will remain happy too 🙂 

2. ACTUAL TIPS & TRICKS TO HELP YOU DURING YOUR JOURNEY 

2.1 Japanese has a different alphabet, and nothing to compare with the Western Languages. Start with learning some Japanese before you go. Reason being is not so many know much English!

Image: Max Pixel/ Creative Commons

Seriously, that’s not much to ask, plus these days knowledge is everything. Little hello, goodbye, thank you, could I have x2 ASAHI please, or ‘Could you please do me a favour, I am an atypical tourist, I would like to see places not known to a tourist – could you advise me?’ . Knowing these phrases in Japanese would make the locals very happy. Being generally friendly nation, it would also increase your chances of getting the right and useful info. 

2.2 Treat vending machines like a store! Their amount in Japan is a bit huge: 

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Use them, it is sort of a substitute to the local retail/ food stores we are used to in the West, due to high real-estate prices and dense population meaning businessmen don’t have much room to store their goods for sale.

2.3 Take a BIKE ride. Hiring a car can be quite daunting, because of prices and Japanese are driving on the left side.

Image: MaxPixel

Being extremely developed and eco-friendly country, Japan has increasing number of bike paths, or ‘cycling roads’, as they are known locally. If you hopefully visiting outside Tokyo, great places for a refreshing sightseeing on a bicycle are Kyushu, Shikoku, the Noto Peninsula, Hokkaido and for adventure biking try Japanese Alps! 

3. MAKE YOUR JOURNEY MORE MEMORABLE BY TRYING LOCAL STUFF

3.1 Do research quirky places to visit, don’t just rely on the classic Ronald Macdonald, or Starbucks. Seriously, check out this absolutely weird, flashy, full of weirdness Robot Restaurant if you are in Tokyo:  

Image: Cory Doctorow/ Flickr

3.2 Or go try traditional plum wine aka Umeshu or rice wine aka Sake in some local Japanese bars.

Image: Needpix

Also visit SHUGAR market if you get a chance – store that specializes in serving local and handmade fruit liquor from different parts of Japan, there are more than 100 types of Umeshu! 

3.3 Don’t just stick to what you are used to, in fact Japanese are dead creative – a lot of tasty things you find there will blow your mind away: 

European Cheese-Flavoured Kit-Kats! yes, they are not just weird, they have a laugh and games with our monotonous milk chocolates!

Image: Jordi Sanchez/ flickr

Ever seen a square watermelon? well, another thing here in Japan, although must warn you – it’s not for the poor! you could go to the market and take a selfie with it though, if you like 🙂

Image: Wiki Commons

Aha, so the reason being again confirms the effectiveness of the Japanese mind. They were invented with an idea to fit them in the fridge compactly and be able to cut them easily…!

Listen, swear I’m tempted to give you more tips on your journey to Japan as this list is not exhaustive… It’s just the beginning. Please research like an adult before travelling to this incredible, truly beautiful and very different to the West country – aha, but it’s on the far East, why surprised? stay MINDFUL tho, they live in ZEN. 

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