Japan is the most amazing and technologically advanced country in the world. My husband and I went to Japan last year. We decided to spend one week in Tokyo, and I absolutely fell in love with this city. The city is modern and futuristic and also historic and traditional. Beautiful harmony and spirits there.
Tokyo is the unique city. I was preparing myself to see things what I have never been seen before, but… my “wow” and “ah” was endless. Here are some my highlights which I didn't expect and some rules that you should know before you visit Japan.
Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. More than 37 million people live there. I expected the city will be loud, noisy and crowded, but I find myself surprised how quiet in there and how people keep a social distance and give space to each other. In whole week, nobody pushed or nudged me at busy train stations, shopping malls, tourist attractions, not even in a rush hour.
What's more, in Japan you have to follow etiquette rules. One of them that people can't talk on the phone in a metro or public transportation. People should mute their phones and not disturb or bother passengers around you with sounds of messaging, games, music and etc.
Even on the streets and other public spots people talk very quietly. Nobody yells or actively gesticulating.
So… respect the rules and be quiet too!
In Japan, the streets are incredibly clean and there are no public garbage bins. Of course, you might find some on the train stations, convenience stores or on the side of many vending machines. But that's it. So, no garbage bins, but the same time there no rubbish on the streets either. The streets are absolutely clean. Nobody litters. This is impressive. The idea is carrying your rubbish with you and properly dispose it at your home or hotel.
This rule occurred after terrorist attack in 1995, during a rush hour, at the Tokyo subway. Terrorists used lethal sarin gas: 12 people died and around 5,000 people were injured. The terrorist attack led Japan remove all public trash bins.
So, my practical advice that you should have a little bag with you then you can carry your rubbish in that bag until you find a trash can or merely take it to the hotel.
There high fine and even possible jail time for littering.
So, don't litter!
Japan is high technological but still cash-based country. In Japan, it is not unusual to have thousands of yen in your wallet. But this country is an absolutely safe. Carrying large amounts of cash will not put you at risk, even as a tourist.
Not so many spots accept credit or debit cards. Few restaurants, large shops and local supermarkets will accept Visa or MasterCard only but debit cards are not taken in most Japanese shops. The most practical use of a debit card is to withdraw money from ATM.
7-Eleven convenience stores provide ATM with 24-hour service. This will be a convenient option to take cash out.
Another great option is using the Suica card. The Suica is a prepaid e-money card for moving around and shopping. It can be used for JR trains, subways, buses, shops, vending machines and much more. We used Suica card and find it very helpful.
I knew Tokyo is one of the most fashionable cities in the world. And yes! It is!
Fashion is a simple way to express yourself, and Japanese people know how to do this. Japanese street fashion contains a unique mixture of European, exotic, futuristic and traditional styles. Japanese people have an incredible sense of style. Everyone looks like they just came out of the fashion magazine. Stylish, elegant, graceful and aesthetic. They are absolutely perfect at any time.
Japan is famous for Cosplay fashion. This is one of the most popular Japanese fashion styles, dressing up as one of favorite characters from manga, anime, video games and fantasy movies.
Japan has a significant luxury market. The luxury industry introduces various sorts of goods like fashion, cosmetics, fragrances, watches, jewelry, luggage, and handbags.
If you want to see all these luxury brand stores, I would recommend you to go to the wealthy Ginza district. It is a popular shopping area of Tokyo, with attractive luxury stores, boutiques, elegant restaurants and coffeehouses.
Japan has unique culture, traditions and people are amazing, polite, kind, respectful and incredibly friendly.
Most of them don't speak English (Surprise!) But they don't walk away from you either, just because they don't understand you. Japanese people will find a way to figure out what you need and will help. Almost every day someone helped us during our vacation, and we very appreciated their hospitality.
We met the men who generously offer us a guided tour to Kamakura City after 5 minutes chat on metro station. Unluckily, we couldn't go to Kamakura because our vacation was almost over and we were leaving home, but it was very kind of him.
With young people and teenagers, we were communicating to trough the Google translator. It was easy, extremely practical and fun.
Please use maps, pictures, Google translator and anything what might help to understand you better. And don't hesitate to talk. Japanese people absolutely amazing and welcoming.
And there so much more…
It was an extremely interesting, enjoyable and remarkable vacation for us. Good experience and great pleasure to travel to Japan
Note: Special thanks to Michael Atkins from MPA Travels blog, who allowed me to use his pictures in Fashion paragraph.
Todaiji Temple with the giant Buddha statue, pet the deers in the park, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and its thousand lanterns, visit the Kikuichi traditional Japanese knife shop. With a guide who will keep you safe and will show you the city in a very unique way, welcome to Nara.