Five things I learnt in Japan

  1. Japanese people will help you before you have even asked

Even though I already knew that the Japanese people were very helpful and friendly before I went to Japan. I was still surprised by how many people offered their help in my first 3 hours in Japan. One person, in particular, helped me at a train station find the train I needed to go to get to my accommodation, and he even came on the train with me to the train station I needed get to off a to go to my hostel. He also carried my suitcase and went 30 minutes out of his way to help me, and I was very grateful for his help as he made the first 3 hours in Japan more calm and less anxiety-inducing.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask the Japanese for help, they love helping foreigners

2. Japan is a very clean place even tho there is hardly any public bins

While walking the quiet streets of Tokyo in the early morning, I was amazed at how clean the streets were. There was not a piece of rubbish anywhere, and there were also no marks on the footpath. I also notice there were no bins to be found anywhere and I had to often take a rubbish bag for the rubbish that I collected through my day exploring. In Japan, their pride themselves on cleanness it and are trailblazers in recycling rubbish. Tip: if you need a rubbish bin the convenience stores often have them.

3. The stores are bigger and busier in Japan

In the cities, you can’t walk even a block without seeing a multi-story shop selling all types of goods including clothes, household goods, stationery, makeup, food and other things. There are often open 24 hours and are packed to the brim with things to buy. Most of the shops are 100-yen shops or offer affordable but good quality things. My favourite shops include Don Quijote, Diaso, Loft and Tokyu hands.

Tip: for all your souvenirs needs don’t forget to check out Don Quijote and Mega Don Quijote.

4. Seven eleven in Japan offer better products and are more healthy then Australia.

Japan is the land of convenience and has more than 50,000 convenience stores. There is seven eleven, Lawsons and family mart which have stiff competition to offer the best in food and convenience. There is a least one on every street in the cities. During lunch and dinner time you can see crowds of Japanese business people and students buying food, checking their bank and resting. There is a variety of food on offer including meals such as a Fried Chicken, Nikuman and Oden, Bento Boxes and my favourite Onigiri (Rice Balls). You can also get money out from the ATM, eat the food you brought at the tables.  

Tip: if you are on a budget the convenience stores offer a range of delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and are often cheap.

5. You need to wake up to visit tourist places if you want to beat the swarms of people

I am not a crowd sort of person, so I often get up early to sightsee when I go to new places. Even though I knew that there were going to massive crowds in Japan, but I wasn’t prepared for the new year crowds going to their first shrine and temple for the new year. The first three days in the new year are called Hatsuode. It is a holiday and a time where the Japanese people make their first visit to a shrine and temple for the new year. After the three days, crowds are still significant for the next week or so.

 At my first shrine visit of my Japan, I couldn’t even move as it was packed. While in Kyoto after the new years I decided to get up at 4:30 am to head to the most popular place in Japan the  Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. The shrine welcomes over 2.7 million visits each year, and that number is rising. It was a foggy and freezing winter morning when I made by the way to the shrine I was only one fo 20 people at the shrine when I made the hike up to the shrine on top of the mountain.

Tip: Make sure you visit the most famous sights such as Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and Arashiyama bamboo shrine in the early morning before it is bumper to bumper with crowds of people.

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