My two weeks in Japan came to a close recently and I thought I would write about the experience as a whole. Japan was my first foray into Asia so I was a bit unsure of what to expect. I had high hopes though both for the culture and the food; my two favorite things to experience when I travel. I was also worried about not speaking the language at all and how that would effect my stay.
Overall I would say I was extremely happy with my visit in Japan. Japan is the most developed country I have traveled to so it was interesting compare and contrast lifestyles with the States. It was definitely an eye opening experience to see how people live and go about their daily lives. One big difference you notice is how clean everything is; almost everything is spotless! You can tell that this is something engrained in the culture and people as they were constantly cleaning and organizing everything everywhere.
Another great part of the trip was the food. I realized I love Japanese food and that there is so much more to it than just sushi as most Americans think. While the sushi is so fresh and delicious, the ramen, katsudon and especially the udon are also just as good. Again, in line with their culture, the food was meticulously prepared and in many cases is considered an art form. I even was amazed at the bartenders who work behind the bars like mad scientists preparing different cocktails in an eerie silence.
The language barrier turned out to be a non-issue in some ways and a hindrance in others. While I was always able to get where I wanted and find someone who could help me when needed, the lack of English spoken in the country really limited the amount of interaction I had the locals when exploring. Japanese culture considers someone who is more quiet to be wiser and thus people are not as outgoing and quick to strike up conversation with you as in other countries. Because of this fact, at times I felt as if I was viewing the country and its culture almost as if I was in a museum and unable to interact with that I found.
That said I still really did enjoy the trip and was happy to cross off a country that was near the top of my bucket list. I also cant stress enough how much better my trip was made by the family that hosted me for a bit in Tokyo and the friend who toured me around for day, as having the insight into the culture and not being afraid to ask and learn what was acceptable was crucial. It really is a gorgeous country that is striking in so many ways and recommend for everyone to check it out at least once if possible.
Be sure to check out the Flickr link above so you can see lots more photos I took from Japan!