I landed in Tokyo last week, and am super excited to share my upcoming Japan adventures with you!
I’ll be here for 3 months – the longest I’ve ever been in a country (after my home country of Australia and Boston, where I currently live). It’s a little strange to think I am now living in a tiny Tokyo apartment just around the corner from Shibuya crossing – one of the busiest intersections in the world!
While I have traveled to Japan twice previously, I can’t help but get a sense of excitement whenever I’m here. For those of you who haven’t been to Japan before, I thought I’d put together a little summary of what visiting Japan is like.
Side note: are you visiting Tokyo soon? Make sure you check out my handy 10 tips for saving money when traveling in Tokyo!
Culturally, Japan is a little confusing.
I say this with absolute love (and this is one of the MAJOR reasons why I love traveling to Japan).
While a major stereotype, Japanese culture is polite. From the store assistants to restaurants staff, it is incredibly hard to have a rude or bad experience when it comes to customer service. When you enter a store, you are always greeted by the shop assistant.
Contrast this to strolling through Shibuya on a Sunday morning, and you may feel like you’re in a completely different country. Young people in Tokyo know how to party hard. If you’re free on a Sunday morning, I’d highly recommend you to visit Shibuya.
Because you will come across groups of young Japanese people still coming home from a night out. And boy, is it worlds apart from the friendly, polite image that you may be used to. We not only spotted drunk people singing and stumbling on the street, but also a guy passed out next to Shibuya crossing with his friend standing next to him amused (true story) and later on we also came across a group of drunk young people who decided to visit Sensoji Temple in Asakusa (alcohol + temples = bad combination).
I don’t mention these things out of dislike, rather point out that Japanese culture is complex. One of the major stereotypes that travelers believe is that Japanese people are meek, quiet and tied to cultural politeness. This is definitely not true!
Japan is heaven for food lovers.
It’s no secret that I love food. I swear I spend
nearly all of my travels eating. If you like food or consider yourself a “foodie”, Japan is the country for you. I not even joking when I say I’ve spent the last week consuming my weight in Ramen. That’s right. Every. Single. Day. And let’s not forget sushi (HEAVEN!!)
Even if you’re not a fan of seafood there are plenty of options available.
From ramen to matcha soft serve, even the pickiest of eaters will find something they like in Japan. You just have to be willing to try!
Skin care in Japan is nuts
Much like the French, the Japanese take their skin care seriously. Walk into a pharmacy here, and not only will you find medication, but endless brands and bottles of oil cleansers, moisturizers, toners and face masks.
While we may be used to a 3 – 4 step skin care routine, Japanese women (and Korean women too!) can have up to 10 steps in their skin care routines. Some women even use face masks morning and night – if you stroll into a pharmacy, you can buy these in bulk. That’s right, you can buy a dispensing box of 40 sheets of face masks!
Kawaii or cuteness everywhere!
Stay in Japan long enough, and you’ll start to notice the Japanese love “kawaii” (meaning cute or adorable in Japanese) in everything. From phone cases to cute cartoon characters on practically everything, you cannot escape kawaii when you’re here in Japan. While those from Western cultures consider “sexiness” as attractive, here in Japan being “cute” and “adorable” is considered attractive (think big eyes and cute round cheeks!)
Everything is electronic. Everything.
While a stereotype, this is definitely true. There are more electronic panels in my apartment than I know what to do with.
I have no idea what any of the buttons on my toilet are for (apart from the flush!) and there are more temperature panels in both my kitchen and shower with more buttons than seems necessary. While I’m not sure I will ever use all the toilet functions, I have definitely found the multiple fan options in my bathroom useful (hellooo air drying clothes).
Technology here is everywhere, and it is a little confusing to start with, but I have slowly begun to appreciate the little design quirks and thoughtfulness that comes from Japanese-designed products.
Japan is such a fun country to visit – I honestly feel like if I were to live anywhere other than Boston or Melbourne, Tokyo would be it! It’s hard not to fall in love with the amazing food and the amazing technology (helloo toilet with buttons).
I definitely feel as if it’s a place where the longer you stay you learn more and more (cue onion layer reference from Shrek!)
Are you traveling to Japan?
Click on the link below to download our guide to the most useful phrases in Japan. I put this together after seeing guides that were filled with super-duper long phrases that were just not realistic for Japanese newbies. This is a practical list of words and phrases you’ll actually use in Japan:
Visiting Tokyo soon? Make sure you check out my guide to 10 tips to visiting Tokyo on a Budget!