I swear there must be more tangible things in Japan than there are stars in the universe.
After yearning to visit Japan for several years, my visit in 2014 was perhaps one of the most thoroughly enjoyable and unique experiences I’ve ever had. You really need to visit Japan right now – It’s jam-packed with history, tradition, culture and distinctive traits – curious travellers are starting to catch on.
Last year for the first time visitors to Japan surpassed the 20 million mark and with increased flights from Australia, Jetstar claimed their flight bookings to Japan soared by 70%. Even news outlets are questioning whether Japan is the new Bali for Australians, and I totally get why. It’s absolutely THE place I could keep going back to over and over and over and over and over…. Well, you get it!
So why do you need to visit Japan right now?
Visitor numbers to Japan have skyrocketed up almost 40% since 2013, according to JNTO. I hope I can inspire you to plan your own trip that helps you stay ahead of the curve as these numbers are expected to explode in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
NOTE: You can find my complete 2 Weeks in Japan Itinerary right here if you’re already convinced Japan is your next holiday destination. My itinerary covers things to do, where to stay, where to eat, costs and more – I even explain how to overcome the language barrier. It’s my most popular article to date!
Without further ado, let’s get into these reasons why you need to visit Japan right now! I haven’t mentioned the obvious stunning natural scenery and world-class snowfields (which is enough for me to babble about in its own dedicated article), so below you’ll find 18 other reasons why Japan will become one of your favourite travel destinations too:
#1 Overwhelming politeness:
Despite Japan being one of the more densely populated countries in the world, you’ll barely notice. Everyone has an unbelievable amount of respect for the personal space of others. If you’re like me and believe people should have a low-impact on one another you’ll sure be in heaven! The Japanese are incredibly orderly – people reliably walk on the left and wait their turn in queues ever so patiently (no pushing, thank goodness). You’re greeted and farewelled with a gentle bow and if you’re accidentally nudged in an elevator you can expect a polite “sorry” to immediately follow. This level of politeness is so ingrained into their culture, you can’t help but feel like Japan is the place you’d want to be when the world is ending.
#2 You can find absolutely anything you want:
If you can’t find a particular item in Tokyo, it probably doesn’t exist. Prepare to be blown away by the amount of ‘stuff’ in the big cities. I swear there must be more tangible things in Japan then there are stars in the universe.
#3 Vending Machines:
They are absolutely everywhere, even in the most obscure of places and sell everything from hot noodles to socks, umbrellas to fresh eggs, burgers to bananas, neckties to Lego. You’ll also be amazed to discover the machines even sell alcohol. There are 5.5 million vending machines across Japan – that’s one for every 23 people.
You’ll be convinced everyone in Japan has OCD (and I absolutely loved it!!)
#4 Impeccable attention to detail:
With. Literally. Everything. You’ll be convinced everyone in Japan has OCD (and I absolutely loved it!!) Every magazine, pamphlet, items in a store are presented immaculately and meals are served up like little artworks. Even on arrival at the Narita airport baggage carousel you’ll notice every suitcase has been handled with care because they’re all sitting upright with baggage tags easily visible to their owners. Such a stark contrast to when you’re reunited with your tattered luggage at Heathrow airport!
#5 Japan can read your mind:
Need a toilet? Oh, there’s one! Thirsty in the serene backstreets of Kyoto? Look, here’s a random vending machine. Aching legs from wandering a long while? Win, there’s a bench to rest. Whatever you want and whenever you need it, something will magically appear almost on cue. It’s truly mind-boggling.
#6 Shinkansen (bullet trains):
These literally feel as though you’re on a plane travelling on the ground rather than in the clouds. Quiet, super speedy (comfortably hitting 300km/h) with food and alcohol available for purchase, you could set your watch by the accuracy of their departures. People are so courteous of others on the shinkansen you’ll be expected to have your phone on silent, speak at a low volume and will even see mothers whisk their crying babies out of the carriage as to not disturb other travellers. So peaceful! The shinkansen are an absolute must to experience when you’re in Japan. If you’re interested in learning more about travelling across Japan by bullet train, you can find it at the conclusion of my article, 2 Weeks in Japan: A Complete Itinerary for First-Timers!
#7 Wagyu beef:
If you haven’t tried it, you need this in your life. At one restaurant in a Shibuya laneway, we ordered so much that the staff (and even chef) were laughing at us saying it was “too much”. We replied, “Never!” Best of all you can cook it yourself at your table, see the juices forming, fat melting, the mouth-watering aroma of sizzling beef teasing your nostrils… Damn, now I need to visit Japan right now!
Japan’s traditional rice-based alcoholic beverage, enjoyed hot or cold. There are so many kinds available that will have you wanting to try them all. Although you pour the sake bottle into an ochoko for drinking so it doesn’t seem like much, be warned this stuff really catches up with you! Sparking sake is a tastebud’s delight.
#9 “Kawaii” (cuteness) wherever you look:
Cute cartoons, cute logos, cute food, cute inanimate objects… You name it! There’s enough here to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Be sure you visit a Maid Café for a huge dose.
#10 Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, Tokyo:
Although it caters to tourists you will never experience anything else as eccentric, entertaining and abdominal-achingly hilarious as this show. Just the waiting area itself must be seen to be believed, it’s surely the blingiest room in the world. The show epitomises everything that’s stereotypically awesome about Japan: Robots dancing to techno, cow-riding pandas, maids with backpacks of beer on tap, flashing lights, grooving girls, boxing jungle animals and fire-breathing dinosaurs. Prices are JPY 8,000 per person (approx AUD 92 at the time of writing).
The look of delight and surprise you’ll see when you greet or farewell someone in Japanese will warm your heart (maybe it’s because they have 3 alphabets!)
#11 Japanese Art:
So unique for it’s time that the great masters of the Western world namely Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Vincent Van Gogh were largely inspired and intrigued by it.
#12 Incredible Castles:
They are peppered all over the country and some date back to the 15th century. Osaka Castle deserves a special mention here, it’s one of the best preserved castles in Japan. The museum inside is worth the visit and the 360-degree view over Osaka from the top is fantastic.
#13 Temples and areas of respect:
This is what makes you really feel like you’re in Japan. The zen gardens are incredibly relaxing with their perfectly raked gravel and manicured grounds. These are truly some of the most spectacular gardens you’ll ever see and the atmosphere in each is very tranquil and calming.
If you’re a language hoarder like me, you’ll know that a little bit of the local linguistics will go a long way in Japan. The look of delight and surprise you’ll see when you greet or farewell someone in Japanese will warm your heart (maybe it’s because they have 3 alphabets!)
Japan is NOT as expensive as you think: There seems to be a stigma attached that it’s one of the most expensive travel destinations.
#15 Fascinating Toilets:
I’m sure you’ve probably heard about all the little features available to you when nature calls. You just gotta try them all. I was also very impressed with the cleanliness of public toilets, they’re just as clean as your hotel bathroom!
#16 No tipping:
Woohoo! The Japanese actually find it offensive because good service is expected as standard, not done for monetary reward.
Unlike many places across Europe, you can be assured whilst travelling around Japan that the locals aren’t trying to rip you off as they’re very genuine and respectful. Also boasting a low crime rate, in Japan you’ll feel safe not having to worry about pickpockets or scams.
#18 Finally, Japan is NOT as expensive as you think:
There seems to be a stigma attached that it’s one of the most expensive travel destinations, although in reality Japan hasn’t been that way since the early 1990’s after their bubble economy crashed. From my experience, Switzerland and the UK are significantly more expensive than Japan. Today, the weaker Japanese Yen means a great exchange rate for travellers of most countries. Obviously like anywhere else around the globe, if you stay in touristy Ginza (Tokyo), expect to pay top dollar for drinks and food if you don’t venture outside the neighbourhood. Elsewhere it isn’t difficult to find a meal for under JPY 1000 (AUD 11.50), Tokyo Metro tickets are only a few hundred Yen (AUD 2.00-4.00) each way and hotels are very reasonable priced. You should see the breathtaking view from my Hiroshima 4-star hotel room, a steal at AUD 145.00 per night when I booked!
Oh, Japan. I’m so fond of you. There are many more points I could add to this list but we’d be here forever! You’ll just have to visit Japan right now to see for yourself before the “expensive” reputation is forgotten and hoards of people want discover what makes her such an amazing travel destination.
Allow yourself to let your guard down a little, open your mind and enjoy the wonders this incredible country and its people have to offer. You can find my 2 Week Japan Itinerary for First-Timers here. I even explain how to overcome the language barrier!
Have you been to Japan or are hoping to visit? What points would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below, let me know on Facebook or follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for more inspiring photos!
Hope I’ve inspired you,
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