When I tell people about my love for Japan and how much I enjoy traveling there, I often get responses like, But it’s so far, or Why Japan?. Well, the answer is simple, Japan is amazing! While it’s true Japan is pretty far away for most of us and many people only know a few things about the country (like sushi and samurai), there is so much more to The Land of the Rising Sun!
Here are some of the best reasons to visit Japan:
There’s nowhere else like it in the world.
Japan remained isolated for many centuries and as a result, the culture is very unique. Not only are there many things you can experience in Japan that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, like kabuki theater, kimono or the world’s busiest fish market, the Japanese omotenashi hospitality culture means people will literally go out of their way to help you have a good travel experience.
Japan has the best customer service in the world.
Having traveled to many countries and several continents, I have seen a wide range of traveler hospitality, and Japan tops the list. Japanese employees work hard to insure things are just right for their customers, through attention to little details, like separating change into paper and coin money so you can easily slide it into your wallet, to bigger things, like a train station attendant helping you buy your ticket and walking you to the right turnstile. While these things probably wouldn’t happen in other countries, not only do they happen in Japan each and every day, the employees do it all with a friendly, polite attitude. (Hard to believe, right?) With high quality service everywhere you go, it’s sometimes hard to remember whether you’re in a five-star hotel or a convenience store (until you get the bill of course).
There’s something for everyone.
Japan’s unique blend of modern and ancient is intriguing, making it appealing to all types of travelers. There’s literally something for everyone. For instance, techies will love Japan’s high-end electronics and futuristic gadgets, while history buffs will love Japan’s centuries-old buildings and ancient cultural practices like the tea ceremony. Foodies will fall in love with Japan’s emphasis on freshness and presentation, while outdoor types will love the natural beauty of Japan’s many national parks.
Japan is a safe place.
Japan’s overall crime rate is one of the lowest in the world and the health standards are very high, making safety one less thing you have to worry about. (So you can breathe a sigh of relief now. Ahhhhh…)
Despite its high-priced reputation, you can travel on a budget in Japan.
While there’s often no way around paying a pretty penny for airfare, once you’re in Japan, you can travel cheaply if you know where to go and what to do. Many of Japan’s best attractions are free or very low cost, and with virtually endless options for food and lodging, you can find quality options for low rates. For instance, curry rice and ramen are two of Japan’s specialties, and you will often find that these shops are among the cheapest (and most filling!) places to eat. You can also stay in capsule hotels or Japanese-style ryokan for a fraction of the cost of other hotels (and with a much more authentic experience!).
The food is fabulous.
Foodies rejoice – when I say the food is fabulous, I mean FABULOUS. Not only does Japan have some of the freshest sushi and most delectable confections in the world, their take on international cuisine is usually delicious (and interesting!). In fact, the only negative I have encountered about Japanese food is that with so many options, it can be hard to choose!
Japan is a great spot for hobbyists.
Otaku, or fetish culture, is big in Japan, which means that almost any hobbyist can find other like-minded enthusiasts. Whether you want to dress up like anime characters, experience first-class service in a maid or butler cafe, or go to a museum dedicated entirely to insects, if you can imagine it, Japan has it. (And they probably have a lot of things you would never imagine too.)
The transportation system is extensive and easy to use.
Even if you don’t speak Japanese, getting around Japan is pretty simple. Japan has numerous, easy-access train stations in every major city, and with the exception of rural towns, most stations have English language signs to point you in the right direction. In addition to the convenience factor, Japan’s rail system is known for safety and punctuality, (with the shinkansen bullet trains having a 98% on-time record!).
Japan is all about convenience.
The Japanese people are very practical, and you will notice this in just about every aspect of life in Japan. From small things like food packaging to major infrastructure like the train system, practicality is emphasized. Not to mention that you can also usually find exactly what you want, when you want it. Convenience stores, also known as conbini, sell much more than just (delicious) snacks and drinks, and most are open 24/7.
You will actually feel like you’ve had a vacation.
Ever travel somewhere and realize it’s a bit too much like home (boring!) or it ended up being a lot of work (making you even more tired than when you left on vacation)? I’m guessing that for most of us, Japan is very different than home, and the unique sights, sounds and culture will make you feel like you have really traveled somewhere exotic. Add to that the Japanese emphasis on quality and convenience (and a little pre-trip planning), and your visit should go off without a hitch.