This post contains some observations, random photos and five things to remember. When in Japan.
A fun quirk about the Japanese (aside from their curious love for popcorn) is that they like to dress up to match. Here are a few examples (
a lot of them could be found walking around tourist spots, okay, I was not being creepy). EVERYONE IS CUTE AND LOVELY AND FRIENDLY AND tears
Five Things to Remember:
- Language — It’s very important to remember a few key phrases (like the Japanese words for thank you, sorry, excuse me, et cetera) to survive day-to-day transactions. You can google the phrases or download an app. In Tokyo, the tourist brochure handed out at the airport has a whole page devoted to words and sentences in both Japanese and English, so that when you’re having a problem communicating with someone, you can just point to the needed phrase on the page! There are also a lot of “tourist-friendly” people around who can help with the language barrier. Failing that, you can always just gesture your way through a conversation!
- Weather — Since we were going to Japan in spring, specifically during the peak cherry blossom season, I was expecting the weather to be cold but not unbearable. Good thing we didn’t pack based solely on that assumption —midway through our Japan tour, the rain started coming! We were eventually forced to acquire some umbrellas and make some tough fashion decisions, but overall we were saved by the foresight delivered by websites like accuweather.com
- Trains and transportation — I have never been to any city with a more efficient subway-metro system. Ever. You can expect trains which are prompt to the minute, clearly understandable station maps and signs, helpful station area maps and interesting platform innovations. Even in Kyoto, where the bus system is more commonly used, efficiency and promptness is the key. Two things to note: 1, it’s really worth it to buy all-day subway or bus passes, since you can travel without the hassle of queuing up (at the admittedly easy-to-use ticketing machines), and 2, LEARN HOW TO BIKE. Kyoto and Osaka are both walking/biking cities on top of having an adequate bus/subway system, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent out a bike for a day and have some city life fun.
- Documentation — I feel like this is a tip I would say regardless of any place, city or country you go to. I love documenting stuff, from pictures to videos to diary notes. While living in the moment and feeling out the culture are important, so is remembering what happened and sharing it with the world!
- Culture — I think the most important thing to remember about Japan is that its culture can be quite unique and very admirable (depending on where you’re coming from). Respect is a value. The Japanese respect people’s time, people’s money, and people’s presence in such a way that compels you to treat everyone with the same honor. Even the smallest mistakes are apologized for. And much like Singapore, you can really feel safe in this city —not because the people are afraid of legal reprimand, but because it’s how they’re raised as a nation.
Some signs made by the Japanese are lovely, since they’re helpfully translated in English already. Others are much odder, since they translate to the romanized version of the Japanese pronunciation,
and that helps in no way at all.