Welcome to my current home, Japan.
The first thing most people think of when they hear "Japan" is probably the crazy hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and as much as it would have been a dream to live there, my husband and I reside in a more rural area. We live in a little city called Misawa. It's located in northern Japan, in the Tohoku region and Aomori Prefacture.
Misawa is kind of like the Alaska of Japan, with brutal winters, and very short, but just as brutal summers.
The humidity here doesn't play, I'll tell you that much.
Don't believe me? Just ask my hair...
At this current point in time, it's been a whole two years since the day we arrived, and boy has it been an adventure.
Don't get me wrong, as much as I love it here, the countryside just isn't for me if I'm being completely honest.
Even so, it's absolutely beautiful.
We have mountains, lakes, gorgeous beaches, onsens and greenery everywhere.
It's peaceful, the air is fresh, and all of the locals that we've encountered have been so kind and wonderful.
I do have to say, Japan by far has the most polite people.
I'm in love with their culture, and how everything is so convenient here.
There are no trash cans anywhere, yet this is the cleanest country that I've ever stepped foot in, and it's got the best toilets!
Nothing like sitting down on a warm toilet in the cold winter months.
The customer service is also top notch. Everything is always done so quickly and efficiently, yet they don't expect any tips (unlike in the USA).
Did you know that tipping is actually frowned upon here, and can be taken as an insult? Let me give you an example...
If you were to go to a restaurant and tip, the chefs might think that you hated their food was so much, that you're giving them money to go find a new career.
They'll even run after you to return your money.
Most people are quite honest as well, you rarely have to worry about your items getting stolen, or being attacked in the streets when you're walking alone.
Maybe it's a bit different in Tokyo, since Tokyo has a lot more foreigners and such, however here in the countryside, I have yet to experience anything negative from the locals.
Our first week here, we were in a mini arcade inside a store, and it was full of students playing games. My husband accidentally forgot his brand new phone on top of one of the machines, and he was so upset when he realized it. Fast forward 20-30 minutes, we headed back to that arcade to see if it was still there (we for sure thought it got stolen), but to our pleasant surprise, some of the kids recognized him as he went back to look for it, and made sure to return it to him right away.
It's little things like that, that make me fall in love with this country over and over.
I can go on and on about my experiences here, but this post would turn into a book. I will do my best to break things down in future blog posts and share as much as I can, but if you really want to get a glimpse of what life is like overseas, you can check out the hundreds of vlogs over on my YouTube channel.