It looks like our trip is over and tomorrow morning we head back to California. We’ve learned a lot visiting this wonderful country. I just thought I’d share a few thoughts about Japan for those of you who may ever want to travel here.
1. Japan has one of the best public transportation systems the world. Look into getting a rail pass in the US before you come. You cannot buy it once you get to Japan. It will save you some money once you start taking trains and metros.
2. Bring a handkerchief. We didn’t know why the handkerchief department in the department store was so big, but we do now. Most restrooms and many restaurants have no napkins or paper towels. Most people carry a handkerchief in their pocket or purse for this purpose. You can always spot the tourists – they are drying their hands on their jeans.
3. Book your hotel near a train station!! Everything centers around the train stations and getting to your hotel with your luggage is a lot easier when you’re close to the stations.
4. This is a funny fact, but Japan has the best toilets in the world. 90% of the places we went have heated toilet seats, with warm water jets that clean off your fanny and private parts, have variable flush volumes, and have auto detectors to lift the lid, lift the seat, flush, and put the seat and lid back down. Totally cool!! I’m sure all you women want one for those guys who won’t put the seat back down!!
5. Bring some sort of translator. Japan is still a very closed society with not a lot of foreigners, and not a lot of people speaking English. I used google translate on my iphone and it really helped a lot.
6. Women in Japan are fairly fashion conscious. They never go bare legged. They always wear nylons or tights, even with shorts, especially in Tokyo. In the outer cities, people are a little more casual.
7. People in Japan rarely walk and eat or drink. They consider it rude. It’s rare to see people carrying StarBucks, even early in the morning.
8. If you’re traveling with friends, most restaurants will not allow you to submit two credit cards to split a bill.
All in all, we found the country incredibly clean, the people amazingly friendly, and polite. They would go two blocks out of their way to help you find something.
If you’re not really great at your communication skills, just brush up a little on your bowing and your pantomime skills. You’ll be using both of those a lot!!
PS – We went back to the crab restaurant in Shinsiabashi and yay! We got in and had a fabulous meal! The secret…go at 5 PM!