Why does it seem that everyone I know that's lived and moved from Japan is dying to come back?
What is it about this place that just sucks a piece of your soul out from you and keeps it forever?
It's been almost 1 1/2 years that we've been gone now, and tonight is one of those nights where I'm missing Japan just a little extra.
Before I get into what I miss about Japan, let me just preface this post with a reminder that every country has their pros and cons.
No place is perfect.
That being said, after living and traveling abroad for quite some time, Japan comes pretty close haha.
1.) The Food
If you've never had Japanese food, I highly encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try it. And by Japanese food, I don't mean overly Westernized "sushi".
Sushi, ramen, yakitori, yakisoba, gyoza, yakiniku, onigiri, anything matcha, and of course all of the amazing desserts...
Don't even get me started on how delicious a slice of plain white bread is or a warm Japanese sweet potato on a cold day.
A change of season meant new limited edition flavors for chu-his, chips, ice cream, teas, sodas, and of course kit-kats and Starbucks frappuccinos.
Can we also talk about how presentation is always on point and everything is so kawaii?
Because it is.
2.) Vending Machines
You will never go thirsty in Japan, because there are vending machines everywhere.
And I mean EVERYWHERE.
You could be driving in the middle of nowhere and still pass by vending machines randomly located alongside the road.
Not only do they provide a decent variety of cold drinks, they have hot drinks too. Need a hot coffee or even some hot soup?
There's a saying that Japan has just as many vending machines as it does people.
I'm not sure how accurate that is, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it's true lol.
3.)Onsens (Japanese Hot Spring Baths)
Onsens are extremely popular in Japan, because Japanese people love their baths.
They are located all over the country and can be a smaller bath house or a fancier resort.
If you've ever been to Northern Japan during the Winter, you'll know that it get's extremely cold, and for me that was my favorite time of year to go.
Sitting outside naked, in silence, while watching snow fall around me.
It doesn't get more peaceful or relaxing than that.
And yes, everyone is naked.
I'll admit, the very first time was a bit intimidating for me, especially as a gaijin,
but once you realize that literally no one cares, it's really not that scary.
There are private onsens as well as public ones. The public ones will either be divided by men and women, or some will be co-ed.
You will encounter some of the most respectful and polite people in the world.
Japanese people will be the first to overly apologize if something goes wrong,
or if they make a mistake.
They always bow as you enter/exit an establishment.
They bow to you as they cross the street to thank you for letting them pass...
Even the construction workers are polite.
Obviously as with any country, you might encounter the occasional asshole, especially in a bigger city like Tokyo, but from my personal experience, I have yet to encounter that.
5.) No Tips!
Tipping in Japan is actually considered offensive, so you never tip for anything.
Whether it be someone who receives a salary or an hourly wage, they will do their job to the best of their ability without expecting anything extra.
They will make you feel like a king
by providing the best service.
I might step on some toes by what I'm about to say next, but the whole tipping culture is such a cancer. Why am I expected to pay extra money on top of what I'm already paying because a person's place of employment doesn't pay enough???
I can go on, but I'll end my rant here.
Of course there are many more things that I love and miss about Japan, but maybe I'll save the Part II for rainy day.
Have you been to Japan?
If so, what do you love (or hate) about it most?