Deciding where to travel can be overwhelming. There are so many options for where to go and what to do that choosing a destination can be just as difficult as planning what to do once you’re there. Well, as you probably guessed from the title, we think that you should visit Japan.
Megumi is Japanese, born and raised in Tokyo, but as we began to explore the country a little deeper together she realized how much more there is to her home country than she realized.
Joshua had been intrigued by Japan for years before finally getting the opportunity to go. Once he went, he loved it just as much as he expected. He chose it as his first Asian country to visit and even after traveling to many more, Japan is still his favorite.
Here’s why you should see Japan for yourself:
1) It’s clean and safe to visit Japan
There are few places on earth that are on par with Japan when it comes to cleanliness and safety. Of course, there’s some dirt and crime, but in most of Japan, it’s shockingly rare.
Even Tokyo, despite its massive population, has clean streets, train stations, and buildings. On the rare occasion when something gets dirty, it’s usually cleaned up immediately. Hotels and restaurants, while very small, will also be spotless. Even old buildings are clean and well maintained.
Crime is just as rare and when it does happen, it seems to mostly be scams. You’re much less likely to be a victim of petty theft, pickpocketing, or violence compared to many other parts of the world. If they do occur it’s probably going to be in someplace really crowded, but even situations like this it’s very uncommon.
2) People are friendly or at least polite
Japan is a very polite, service oriented culture that values face to face interaction. Store clerks will usually be extremely welcoming. From the moment you walk in the door, you’ll hear “Irashaimase” (welcome) coming from every direction as all the various staff welcome you.
We can’t guarantee that everyone will love you and shower you with compliments, but blatant rudeness is rare. If it does happen it’s probably because you’re in a really crowded place or a tourist area. For example, someone may bump you on a crowded train and not apologize. Or a store clerk may not welcome you in heavy tourist areas because they are stressed out. Anything worse than that is highly unlikely.
3) Big, modern cities
You probably already know how big Tokyo is. Well, it’s even bigger than you think. The metropolitan area is one of the biggest on earth and as you can imagine, a lot of cool stuff happens in a city like that.
The thing that makes Tokyo stand out from other global cities is the way it manages to be both extremely modern and very traditional. There are massive skyscrapers and blinking neon lights. Some stores even have little robots that greet you. Yet, there are also thousand-year-old temples and highly refined social traditions that still permeate the culture.
Just exploring different neighborhoods and people watching can occupy you for weeks. Some areas are extremely modern and trendy, while others seem to remain in the past with no plans to change.
And that’s just Tokyo. Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka are all big cities, too. They each have their own unique cultures that can vary quite a bit. Kyoto is traditional Japan to an extreme, while Osaka is big like Tokyo, but with a totally different vibe. Fukuoka is between the two and has a lot of young people and a more entrepreneurial spirit.
4) Natural beauty
Even though Japan has many large cities, they are just a small part of the country. Tokyo and Osaka are very densely populated and use only a small portion of the land mass. Beyond this area, you’ll find a mix of small towns and overwhelming natural beauty. The landscape ranges from forests and mountains to tropical beaches.
In the North, there are ski resorts in the winter and hiking in the warmer months. It’s undeveloped throughout much of this area and surrounded by sea. Small towns along the ocean have abundant fishing and seafood to try.
Even if you stay in the Tokyo region, Mount Fuji isn’t very far away, along with plenty of other mountainous areas. The seaside city of Kamakura is just an hour away by train. You can see a giant Buddha statue or just relax on the beach.
Go South and you have well-known cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima. Further South is Kyushu, an often overlooked part of the country. Fukuoka, the region’s main city, is quickly becoming the startup capital of Japan. Plus, there’s all the ramen…
Explore deeper and you’ll find Yafuin and Beppu, areas known for spectacular Onsens (natural hot springs). There’s also plenty of beaches, mountains, and small towns to explore.
Then there’s Okinawa. This collection of islands has a mellow vibe that will contrast sharply with other parts of Japan. There’s tropical weather and lots of beaches. You may feel like you’re in Hawaii, rather than Japan.
We saved the best for last.
Japan has some of the best food in the world and it’s truly unique. You probably know about sushi and maybe ramen, but there’s so much more to it than that. Actually, even sushi is much different than what you find in other parts of the world. Ramen is too. There’s just so much variety it’s mind boggling.
There are a lot of foods that may seem weird at first, but once you try them and get used to them you’ll probably learn to appreciate them. Everything is so fresh with a lot of subtle flavors.
Then there’s dessert. For starters, Japan has some of the world’s best pastries. Croissants, cakes, and loaves of bread are everywhere and many bakeries from New York and Paris have locations around the country.
Traditional desserts are like a work of art, often molded into intricate flower shapes. Once again, new ingredients will challenge your taste buds and even those that seem strange at first will become new favorites.
You’ll love it (probably)
Well, at least there’s a good chance you’ll love it. One of the biggest reasons to travel is to experience new cultures and challenge some of your biases. When you combine all these factors we mentioned, you’ll see that Japan is a unique culture that you can you explore without worrying much about things like safety and cleanliness.
Not many places combine all of these things together so we think that one of your top choices should be to visit Japan should.
If you made it this far and are ready to visit Japan for yourself, be sure to check out the travel section up top.
Last updated July 13, 2018