Every year I am fortunate enough to get to visit Japan with my husband to see his family. Although the summer weather is difficult to adjust to for someone coming from California, the overall experience has always been pleasant and I’ve always enjoyed my stays. Without further ado, here are 5 things I love about Japan. Good food doesn’t have to be expensive.
- ⤏ There is a sushi chain called Sushiro スシロー that completely shocked me the first time I went to Japan. Normally sushi in America is quite pricey, so when Hubbie took me here, I was completely blown away. There are sushi coming around on a conveyer belt, as well as a screen at each table to order your sushi fresh a la carte. The sushi you order will come to your table via the conveyer belt and they tally up the number of plates you’ve eaten at the end for your final bill. What normally would’ve cost around $100+ in the US cost only around $30 at Sushiro. What. A. Steal.
- ⤏ Denny’s in Japan is AMAZING. I know you’re thinking, “Why is she going to Denny’s in Japan???” Well, inexpensive GREAT eats in both Japanese-ified Western and Japanese style! I highly recommend you drop by if you see one — It’s a completely different experience from American Denny’s and you’re sure to be surprised by how much more well presented and homely everything is!
- ⤏ Adorable little cafes and eateries are everywhere! They are great for a quick shopping break and they’re very well decorated and super clean.
- There are vending machines and combini everywhere!
⤏ No matter where you go, there is bound to be a vending machine somewhere in your vicinity. Well, I’ve only gone to cities and suburbs, so I can’t speak for the countryside. But if you go to the city or suburbs, you’ll be sure to find one with a turn of your neck. I’m always amazed and am constantly wondering who comes to refill those machines! Especially the ones that are in deep residential areas.
⤏ The convenience stores in Japan are so different from convenience stores in the US. Oftentimes, convenience marts are thought to be quite shady and not too clean, but in Japan it is completely different. The 7-Elevens, Family Marts, Lawsons and Circle K’s are all so bright, cheery, and well maintained. Even though I know I’m paying more for an item here (for the convenience), I can’t help but visit for the yummy snacks, ice creams, drinks and fried food skewers. I also heard that Japan has bought out 7-Eleven, which is probably a good thing because it definitely has changed the company’s image around, at least in my eyes.
- The onsen (public baths) are SO relaxing.
- ⤏ I remember the first time I ever went to the onsen, I was super nervous and couldn’t understand the appeal of bathing in your birthday suit with a whole bunch of other people. My mother-in-law reassured me that nobody looks at each other and it’s completely normal in Japanese culture. She told me that if I keep staying so tense and nervous, I’d stick out and then people will look at me. After I heard that, I tried to relax myself and everything after that is history.
- Now I love going to the onsen every time I’m in Japan. There is something so liberating about just enjoying the hot springs without a care in the world. I highly recommend it! If you’re too nervous to be out in public, you can rent a private family room as well, complete with your own little hot spring, room for relaxation, and room service.
- Shopping centers are well maintained, and have everything you could possibly need.⤏ AEON Malls are everywhere I go and I see their logo plastered on websites, billboards, just everywhere. You can’t really go to a populated area in Japan and not end up shopping in one. Whether you’re there for a manicure, in need of clothing or cosmetics, wanting to have a quick meal, or shopping for home goods and groceries, AEON and other large malls are there for you.
The stores are also decorated so nicely so it’s difficult to not wander in. Even the grocery aisles are a dream come true for someone with OCD. Prior to the Japanese malls, I have never seen a mall that combined retail goods and services with a grocery store. Yep, I was pretty mind blown.
- It is really really REALLY safe. ⤏ There’s a Japanese television show that features young kids (think several years old) running errands on their own, such as buying groceries. In order to get the grocery or whatever the errand is, the kids have to take public transportation on their own, ask strangers along the way for help, pay with the money they have on hand, and then get back home. This could never happen in America because CPS/police would snap up the child faster than my pup Wanpo can down his doggie treat, and with good reason too–it’s not that safe here!I was in the car with Hubbie’s grandma and made a comment about how it’s amazing that school kids that are so young are walking on the sidewalks to and from school at such a young age. To her, it was a completely normal thing whereas my face is stuck to the car window whilst oogling all of the cute kids toting their schoolbags, lunch bags and little plastic yellow hats. It says a lot when you can trust having your little ones out and about on their own at such a young age.
There are many more things that I really love about Japan, including the eclectic mix of architecture in residential areas, exceptional service despite no tipping, beautiful packaging of products, the hot hand towels (oshibori) that are provided before a meal at a restaurant, and the high quality gel manicures, but I really should probably end it here before this post becomes any longer. Until next time! xx