Friday, 15 September 2017

Travel tips : 10 reasons why you must visit Japan



One of the most iconic symbols of Japan, Mt. Fuji


Everyone has a dream destination, a place one keeps at the top of his/her bucketlist, a place one would want to visit at least once in their lifetime. When asked about one's dream destination, at least in the Indian context, the most common or immediate answers are usually, US, Rio de Janeiro, Australia, New Zealand, the pyramids of Egypt, Venice, Switzerland, Thailand, Malaysia and maybe a handful of other places. Very few people actually have Japan in their list. 

It might be due to many reasons. Maybe we are not as familiar about Japan as we are about France or Germany. Maybe we are doubtful about managing to survive in a country where people hardly understand English. Maybe because a trip to Japan is not exactly cheap. There might be a hundred more reasons, I don't know. But let me tell you this from experience. If you like to travel even one bit, you must plan a visit to Japan once in your lifetime. It will be worth every penny you spend! I went for a 11 day trip there 5 months ago, and I still can't stop talking about it. It was the best trip I ever had. Don't believe me? Give Travel diaries : Japan (Part I) a read and you'll know how much I am in love with that country. 

Anyway, I know that just telling you to go do something will not motivate you enough to actually go do something. So I will give you not 1, not 2, not 3, but 10 reasons why you must visit Japan, at least once in your life. Let me tell you here that the list is in no way exhaustive, and I can give you countless more pointers. That would mean though, that I will never finish writing this post, and as a result, you will not be able to ever read this list. So in no particular order, here are the 10 best reasons why.


Every country has its own kind of natural beauty, which is why I haven't included it in the points below.
But Japan's natural beauty is incentive enough to travel all the way there. The photograph shows the natural bamboo forests of Arashiyama



1. DISTINCT CULTURAL IDENTITY

I don't know how well I will be able to explain this point, but I'll try. What I mean to say here is that the people of Japan have a unique lifestyle, quite different from the rest of the world in some ways. The general behaviour of the people, their work ethics, the food they eat, their ways of interacting with other people, and in many other aspects, Japan and Japanese people are unique. I think I will be talking about this briefly in some of the points which will follow, so you will have a better idea of what I am talking about towards the end. Even if you don't, let me tell you that you are sure to get a culture-shock immediately when you land, and it will be in a good way, for sure. But this is something you must experience first hand to understand it fully.


2. NICEST PEOPLE EVER

We do tend to meet nice people here and there once in a while. But throughout the entire duration of my stay in Japan, I never met someone who was not nice, polite or respectful. Be it a person hurrying to work, a security guard working in the metro station or a departmental store manager, they will get out of their way to help you out with anything. Can't find your way back to the hotel? No problem, just stop and ask anybody. Whether they speak English or not, they will try their absolute best to make sure you get find your way back. You bump into someone accidentally because you were looking somewhere else and walking? It's alright. They will turn back, bow and apologize for 'your' mistake. They are just the nicest people ever! All of them.


3. BEST FOOD EVER

Food was one of the most important reasons why I loved my stay in Japan so much. The ramen, sushi, sashimis, kobe, ceaser sauce... I loved everything, everytime, everywhere I went. And the food in Japan is not just tasty, it is presented in the most appetizing of ways imaginable. So it looks good, smells good and tastes good.


Kurumi Korokke, topped with amazing Ceaser sauce


4. MOST WEIRDNESS EVER

Japan is the capital of the world in terms of weirdness, definitely! They have weird themed restaurants ranging from rabbits to robots, the most explicit animations and posters, out in full public display in some particular areas, square watermelons, love hotels, kitkats of all flavours imaginable and these are just a few out of a million other things from bizarro world!


All the kitkats from my collection after the trip



5. BEST TOILETS EVER

In terms of robots and gadgets, Japan is very advanced, but they have reached the next level when it comes to high tech toilets. The water closets have warmed seats, a panel attached to them to adjust the position, speed and temperature of the jet spray, and an emergency button in case you need help! The first time I saw one of these, I almost had tears in my eyes out of amazement!


A typical WC in Japan equipped with a panel
(image courtesy : www.tritan-plumbing.com)


6. ALL THE SUMO WRESTLING IN THE WORLD EVER

If you plan a trip to Japan, you might try and schedule it such that you are there when there is a sumo tournament on the way. Check out the Sumo tournament calender till 2020 in case you need to check for dates. Even if you have planned your trip some other time, you can visit the Ryogoku Kokugikan at around 7:30 AM, and try asking them really nicely. They might allow you to enjoy the practice sessions. In case even that doesn't happen, try a Sumo meal at least, a meal eaten by the sumo wrestlers, just like the name suggests.


7. BEST MANGA EVER

I am not into anime or manga at all, but for those of you who are into it, Japan will be fascinating for you. From books, to figurines, to actual people cosplaying as one of the characters, you will find a lot of it in Japan


8. BEST TRANSPORTATION EVER

The efficiency of the transport system in Tokyo, and in Japan as a whole, is beyond belief. Trains and the subway connect just about anything, and they are punctual to the second. And the icing on the cake is the Shinkansen or the bullet trains, which you must definitely hop on to if you are in Japan. Those trains are a thing a beauty!


The Shainkansen's have futuristic smoking pods. Like whaaaat!


9. MOST SAFETY EVER

No country in the world is devoid of crime, but you will feel safer in Japan than in most other places. You leave your rented bicycle unlocked in the street the entire night, and I can guarantee you that you will find it in the exact same place the next morning. Same with wallets, money, or any valuables. If you think I have copied this from google, you are wrong, because I have experienced it first hand. In short, my friend left his phone outside a restaurant in a busy part of Kyoto, and found it when he came back looking for it 3-4 hours later. 


10. BEST BLEND OF MODERN AND ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE EVER

Japan is an amazing place for architects and architecture lovers, and that was the point of our trip basically. While there are magnificent shrines all over the country such as the Kiyomizu dera, the Kinkaku-ji and the Inari shrine, architects such as Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito and Kenzo Kuma have produced marvels such as the Chi Chu museum, Sendai mediatheque and the Asakusa culture and tourism centre. Actually whether you like architecture or not, you will be rendered speechless anyway.


Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto


Asakusa culture and tourism centre, Tokyo


As I mentioned before, there are many other things which I could have included in this list. So have I motivated you enough to pack your bags and visit the best place ever? Hopefully I have. 

Now the next question is 'how much money do you need' to make this trip possible? Do not worry, I will do everything in my power to help you plan a trip there, and that means, I will give you a tentative breakdown of expenses you need to consider for this trip in my next 'Travel tips' post, which should be out by next Friday. Till then, stay tuned, and have a great week!

7 comments:

  1. Nice vlog and great work. Informative post.

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  2. When you mentioned planning a trip to Japan at least once in a lifetime, the movie "Japanese wife" came to mind. It's one of the few Indian movies I kind of liked. As for me, strawberry flavored KitKat would be a valid reason enough to pack my suitcases right away :) Just kidding. But that bamboo forest would definitely definitely be. Perhaps in conjunction with one of the weird Murakami's novels.

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    1. Even better than strawberry is the cherry blossom in my opinion, so you can start packing now for that one. You can pass by the 'surreal' bamboo forest on your way to the kitkat store, so you won't miss out on anything :P

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  3. When I was reading your Blog's 5th post , I just jumped to Very first part as I am very interested to know about this great and beautiful country , Japan. Thank you for this series , I will remain with you in this series virtually .

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    1. Thank you so much Yogi, it feels great to know that someone likes this series. It inspires me to bring more stories to all of you, and bring them in a way that is intriguing. Thank you again for being a part of my journey!

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  4. Japan goes to my booklist..
    Thanks brother.. thats very informative..

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