Before I went to Japan, I had the notion that it was a busy, high-tec metropolis that was undoubtedly cool yet incredibly expensive. Other than that I didn’t really have a clue what it would really be like, but after spending two incredible weeks there, I’ve fallen in love with this awesome Country, but I also found myself pretty surprised at a number of things. Take a look at the top 5 things that surprised me about Japan. This is a picture heavy post so you may wanna grab some refreshments!
1. Tradition & Quirkiness Exist Side by Side
I actually had no idea that people still wore Kimonos out and about. Sure they’re mainly reserved for special occasions, but you’ll regularly see people donning this traditional garm. It’s also a perfectly normal and ‘done’ tourist activity to rent a Kimono and walk around the sites – and take pictures (of course!)I saw a Sumo Wrestler on the tube dressed in his robe, with his hair perfectly style and a Geisha hot footing it into her tea house. Cut to Tokyo and fashion really is anything goes. Think cuteness overload where you can NEVER wear too many hair clips. Just head over to Takeshita street in Harajuku and get your camera ready – the outfits are epic.
2. It’s Not Expensive
OK, so obviously expense is all relative and coming from the UK with the pound we’re pretty lucky when it comes to spending in most countries, but I was expecting Japan to be unbelivably expenive. I’d heard that people paid £10 for one beer and it simply wasn’t the case! One afternoon I ate about 12 plates of sushi and it only cost me £3.90. In London the same thing would have cost me more like £30. Another time I paid just £1.90 for a glass of wine ( in a highly touristy area). I know. Truly incredible stuff. So, if you’re thinking about going to Japan – go while the exchange rate is still in our favour!
3. There’s SO Much More Than Tokyo
I adore Tokyo. It’s fun, it’s exciting and the people are incredibly friendly – but there’s also a whole big country out there! With breathtaking beauty, unbelievable scenery and ancient traditions, there’s loads more to see than just cityscapes. I went to the mountains and stayed with monks in Koya San, saw Giesha’s in Kyoto, chilled with wild deer on Miyajima island and explored the now vibrant city of Hiroshima. With ancient castles, shrines and stunning landscapes there’s something for everyone!
3. The Toilets are Incredible!
If you’ve been to Japan you know what I mean. If you haven’t imagine a super high-tec toilet that can do everything! Some came complete with heated toilet seats, noises so no one would hear you (ehm) deodorisers and even various little buttons to wash and dry your nether regions. I miss them.
4. It’s Easy to Get Around
Having visited China and Vietnam, I felt sure that in those countries if I lost the people I was with, I would be lost forever! No one spoke English, there were no signs in English and if you couldn’t muster up some broken sentence in their language you were hopeless. Not so in Japan. It’s so easy to get around. On the trains, on the buses, you name it – easy peasy. Pretty much all the signs are also in English, there are English announcements and if you’re found looking at a map for too long, someone will gladly come along and point you in the right direction. The tube is also colour coded like in London, making it very easy to relate to.
5. Everyone is SO Friendly
In big bustling cities, you often find that people can be a tad aggressive. They’re always so busy, in a rush and pretty much exist in their own bubbles. Sorry to sound so cynical – I am a city gal myself! Japan was completely the opposite. Considering there are about 9 million people living in Tokyo, it has an incredibly calm and chilled vibe. The people are always smiling and happy to help – bowing is a thing and they / I love it. Even at the busiest crossing in Tokyo, no one pushed or shoved, everyone seemed to have a mutual respect for one another. It was seriously surprising to be in such a busy developed place but still have a sense of calm.