Japan had been on my bucket list for years and I finally had a chance to visit. I quickly fell in love with this remarkable country and found my trip was way too short. It engulfed my senses and satisfied my longing with exciting adventures, delicious food, and stunning beauty.
Let's take a journey together through Japan and see why this country wins the heart of so many travelers.
One reason tourism is so huge in Japan is that the country appeals virtually to every type of traveler. If you like big, vibrant cities, you can head to Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto. If you would rather get lost in nature, there are beautiful landscapes covering a variety of different terrains including forests, mountains, beaches, and more. If you are into getting off the beaten path, head to the mountains and visit the tiny villages untouched by tourism.
I have never experienced a country as polite as Japan. Conversations are bookended with slight bows of polite greetings and farewells. When you are talking to another person, you hold their entire attention. They are genuinely eager to listen; no one looks at their phone or is distracted by their surroundings.
I felt extremely valued and respected in Japan, and it made such an impression on me that I made a mental note to continue this practice wherever my travels take me. Another aspect of the Japanese culture I fell in love with was their desire to master even the smallest task. Everything from helpful hotel staff to food preparation was done with extreme care. In Japan, presentation is everything, and they have mastered it.
Speaking of food, I could not stop eating in Japan. Every meal was delicious. I am not a huge fan of seafood. Honestly, I could go without eating fish the rest of my life and it wouldn't bother me. However, in Japan, I ate seafood at almost every meal. It was just that good but it isn't just about seafood.
Even the fruit is taken to a whole new level. I had an apple bigger than the palm of my hand. You would think an apple so massive would lose some of its flavor and sweetness, but it was the juiciest apple I have ever eaten. Each bite was filled with delicious flavor.
This relates back to what I was saying about their desire for perfection. The entire process from planting a seed to the harvest is done with the utmost care. The food is some of the best food I have had throughout Asia.
Japan is famous for its bathhouses. These bathhouses are indoor hot springs surrounded by beautiful nature. There is nothing like sitting in hot pools of soothing spring waters in the midst of forests, hills, and waterfalls.
However, these bathhouses might not be for everyone since no clothes are allowed. If you are a little squeamish about being totally naked with strangers, try visiting in the early morning. At this time there is a good chance you will have them to yourself. I found the bathhouses wonderfully relaxing, and highly recommend visiting at least once during your visit to Japan.
One reason I fell in love with Japan is that it is so uniquely different from everywhere else in the world. Robot themed restaurants, vibrant neon signs, vending machines that sell everything including Sake and Beer, and strange markets selling futuristic looking clothes all make this a very unique place.
Japan even has toilets where the lids operate automatically when you open the bathroom door. Some of the toilets talk to you as well; something I found intriguing especially for the lonely solo traveler. Some parts of Japan are completely quirky and entirely different from the rest of the world and surprisingly even the rest of Asia.
In most parts of Asia, buses and trains run on their own timetables. I've been on bus journeys with posted 4 hours arrival times but instead, have taken 8. I have also waited for trains that were two hours late. In Japan, this is not the case. Everything is on time and runs like clockwork.
For example, one day I was waiting for a bus with a dozen other people. The bus arrived right on time, but there was only room for half of us. In most parts of Asia, you would have no other choice but to sit and wait for the next bus, but not in Japan. The bus driver immediately announced that he was calling in another bus. Within a few minutes, another bus arrived to pick the rest of us up. The little extra effort makes a massive difference to travelers that leaves them feeling happy, welcomed, and respected.
It is no secret that I am a huge landscape lover. In fact, pictures of Japan's landscape was my number one reason for waiting to visit. While I only had time to see a small fraction of the forest, mountains, and waterfalls, the landscape was so beautiful, it increased my desire to explore more of Japan on my own. During one hike, I was amazed at the numerous waterfalls that dotted the countryside, all of them different sizes, shapes, and strengths. The landscape of Japan is captivating, and something I cannot wait to explore more.
Lastly, I fell in love with Japan's beautiful temples. These peaceful landmarks and their gorgeous gardens are tranquil. The temples are impressively built, richly ornate, and massive. Some of these temples are right in the middle of big cities like Tokyo while others are found hidden deep in the countryside.
There are many reasons to visit Japan. It is a country that not only welcomes travelers but also honors them. Unique, mysterious, and even surprising but also enduring, tantalizing, and captivating. You truly will find yourself falling in love. Japan will leave a lasting impression and a greater desire for more.
Is Japan on your travel bucket list?
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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