Convenience Stores: They have everything you need and they are everywhere. No matter where you go in an urban area, there are “conbinis” all over the place. They are clean and open 24 hours a day. Do you need snacks, bentos, booze, stationary, to mail a package, pay a bill, buy concert tickets or even a pair of underwear? If so, stop by a Lawson, Family Mart, 7-ll or one of the regional chains. They’ll have you sorted out in no time.
Trains: The train networks in Japan are amazing. They’ll get you anywhere you want to go and on time. They can be a little pricey, but if you are a traveller armed with a JR Pass, then you’ll be doing ok.
Food: It’s amazing! Japanese food comes in a wide variety and is great. Japanese people like to eat out so there are always a great variety of restaurants around. It can be quite affordable to eat out in Japan if you look around closely at menus.
Helpful People: If you are ever lost or standing on a street corner looking confused, someone is bound to stop and help you. Even people who can’t speak English will try their best to help out.
Hidden Treasures: Japan is full of them. You could simply be walking down a back street in a city and as you come around a corner there is a beautiful shrine look right at you! You might wander into a neighbourhood on a weekend and discover a festival happening. There are amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurants all over the place. You’ll often discover these little treasures when you least expect them.
Cleanliness: You don’t realize how organized and tidy Japan is until you leave it. The streets are clean, even though there tends to be a lack of trash cans, and well-maintained. People are very concerned with their personal hygiene and appearance and even children’s bento boxes are organized and aesthetically pleasing. Recycling and garbage disposal is done right!
Fashionable people: Like mentioned earlier, people in Japan, in general, are very aware of and care about their personal appearance. People want to look good and younger folks enjoy keeping up with current fashion trends. Fashion can vary greatly, of course, depending on the age demographic as well as the geography.
There are of course many other things you’ll miss after your time in Japan, but these are a few of them.
Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff.com. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Beijing, China with his family. Kevin called Kobe, Japan home for 10 years.
Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev