Land of cherry blossoms has many things to shock even for those who spend their whole life in this country.
Ben Groundwater, writer of the Traveler, points out things in Japan that surprise foreign visitors on their first visit.
Modern and traditional
Most visitors are impressed with the long history of Japan, and its unique culture that existed thousands of years ago. From Shinto shrines to serene gardens, Buddhist shrines or traditional Ryokan inns from the Edo period … many old things exist among the new Japanese society.
Despite preserving all its traditional values, today’s Japan has grown to the point of appearing as a fantasy world in the distant future. Everything in modern society integrates cutting-edge technology, from vending machines to toilets. Japan is a country with convenient and practical designs in all fields, a typical land for future fashion. Everything in Japan seems new and it only takes a few days for one person to get used to. Photo: Tokyo Tokyo.
Japan constantly attracts visitors thanks to its beauty and strange features: from the cosplay costumes of the “otaku” – the addicted to comics or anime, to the robot restaurant, the obsession with literature. Hawaii or a love for cute things. Photo: Flickr.
Low crime rate
Japan is one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world. It’s something you will appreciate when experiencing for yourself, even if you get lost in sensitive places like the red light district of Kabukicho or the nightlife district of Roppongi. You can feel most clearly when you put a bag anywhere, and come back in a few hours – it will stay in place, untouched – or get the item back at a police station.
Pictured is a storage room for lost items brought by a Japanese citizen to the Tokyo Police Station. On average, 3,000 umbrellas are sent here on a rainy day. In 2016, the city police received a total of 318,135 neglected umbrellas. Photo: Satoko Kawasaki.
The people are enthusiastic
Just seeing someone looking confused when standing in the middle of a subway station, a bus stop, or in front of a restaurant, the Japanese won’t hesitate to talk and offer to help. Japanese culture emphasizes politeness and a sense of helping those around them. Photo: istock.
Japanese people can sleep anytime, anywhere
You will quickly admire this Japanese ability. For example, when you go to a ski resort, you will see diners bowed on the coffee shop table, or tourists take a nap during their lunch break after a ski trip … If sitting on the train You will find people who look sleepy and immediately wake up when they reach the station. Photo: Ko Sasaki.
Foreign guests are not always welcome
No matter how hospitable Japanese people are, a foreigner can still run into unfortunate things when they go to a place they are not welcome. Most of such addresses are usually Japanese-only restaurants such as pubs in the Shinjuku neighborhood or some upscale restaurants in Tokyo’s Ginza district. This is not a common thing, but it does exist. Photo: Debito.
Although the traffic can be confusing for foreigners coming here for the first time, Japan is an easy place for visitors to visit on their own. The rail system is quite expensive, but accurate and user-friendly, and traveling by bus and subway is similar. Most of the signs are in Japanese and English, and ticket machines can also assist foreign visitors in multiple languages. Photo: Chunichi Shimbun.
Not everyone speaks English
You don’t have to go too far from the center to get lost in a place where you can’t read a sign or chat with anyone. Even in tourist-friendly cities like Kyoto or Tokyo, many restaurants do not have English menus or waiters know a foreign language. This experience can be difficult for foreign visitors, but it is also an opportunity for you to use body language or a sense of humor to interact with locals. Photo: Reuters.
Buy everything from vending machines
You want to buy a can of warm soup, cigarettes, coffee, beer, a new T-shirt, a cup of instant noodles, ice cream, umbrella, gloves, hot dog bread? All are available at vending machines. The Japanese even have vending machines capable of talking to customers. Photo: SoraNews24.
From dawn, Japanese people can rush into the office, but when the city lights turn on, you will see a completely different world. When white-collar employees loosen their ties, they pull each other into an izakaya pub, small pub or nightclub, drinking down until they get drunk. The Japanese prefer beer, sake, home-cooked wine or American-style cocktails.
In addition to New York (USA) or Berlin (Germany), Japan, especially Tokyo is home to interesting bars. You can visit a new bar every night without getting bored, that is the secret charm of the city. There are many options for visitors, from tiny pubs with just a few people sitting for a while, karaoke bars where you both lie in the bath while singing, underground bars with mysterious entrances … Flickr.
Most ATMs do not accept international cards
Today’s travel enthusiasts are accustomed to convenient transactions with international banks, just insert the card into any ATM machine to withdraw money on the way. But that’s not easy in Japan. You can withdraw money from international banks or ATMs at 7-Elevens convenience stores, post offices. Photo: Hitoshi Katanoda / Bloomberg.
When living with parents in tiny apartments with thin walls, it is difficult for Japanese to find opportunities to warm love. That is why a love hotel was born in this country.
The hotel is specially designed to keep guests anonymous, with automatic check-in procedures via vending machines. Guests can choose from a variety of “love” spaces from spaceships, dungeons to rooms filled with Hello Kitty pictures. Photo: Sinopix.
Those who use the new generation toilet in Japan for the first time may be asked dozens of questions such as: What do all these buttons do? Why is there a small stream of water soaring? Although the instructions have English and illustrative symbols, you can only try and accept mistakes the first time you use the toilet in Japan. Be careful not to get yourself wet when stepping out from the toilet. Photo: Scroll.
You have to get used to this, because the Japanese always maximize tight spaces. Tiny cars, pretty little houses, hotel rooms can only accommodate beds, many bars or shops cannot accommodate more than 5-6 guests at once, and even the streets are small. However, all are designed with 100% enthusiasm, towards comfort and harmony despite modest size. Photo: Fiveprime.