Argh, where do I start?! I suppose it’s a typical conundrum to come across when you decide you want to blog about your travels from Japan 6-7 months ago. So many photos, so many sights and places we visited, so many ‘top things to do’ in each city and Japan altogether, so many random things you want to write about to remember but can’t decide to combine it with the other things you did that day into one post or to dedicated one post to it (exhale!).
The main thing is I want to write about it NOW because as each day passes, each memory becomes less vivid (but – more meaningful 🙂 )
Japan was my last destination of my trip abroad and I travelled around the country with my sister for 3 weeks. I gotta say it was nice to have a companion for the entire trip; to plan together, cook at hostels together, catch early morning trains together, and just have company wherever we went. I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed the trip as much without her, and most certainly wouldn’t have been keen to do some activities like going snowboarding, trying an Onsen (actually I wouldn’t have minded a dip on my own!), eating at restaurants that had lines out the door, going to watch Sumo, visiting Universal studios (imagine standing in line for all those rides ALONE, how sad), going cycling in the countryside, and more! Albeit, Japan is one of the BEST countries for a solo traveller. It’s extremely ahead of others in terms of catering for foreigners, the citizens are SO friendly and helpful, navigating cities are straightforward (there’s always someone around to ask a question), hostels are top notch, you can feel COMPLETELY safe wherever you are, and there’s so much diversity between cities and towns to keep you interested.
When you’re out and about, 98% of the people you see and encounter are Japanese. This is the type of travelling I personally like because you can really then travel the country with it’s full ethnicity. When I travelled around Europe there was constantly a mix of nationalities – Yes, while you do encounter the country’s citizens, you’d always see expats, other travellers, people from a different nationality. On the hand, it’s comforting because you don’t feel so alone and you sort of assimilate into the ‘mix’ of people. But I LOVE travelling to a country when I’m just surrounded by the nationality itself. It feels authentic, like I’m truly immersing.
We travelled Japan in January which meant Winter. I would come back in a heart beat to explore the country in summer. I don’t know how I coped through the -5 to 5 degree days, I have such a low tolerance for the cold!! After two weeks I was REALLy feeling it and just wanted HOT – I had had enough of cold!! But well, when you’ve travelled to a country for a certain period of time, you make a plan everyday to see sights and do things. And you just go. No contemplation. It’s almost a travel ‘habit’ if you will. So every morning, we got up and changed, had breakfast, and headed for whatever it was we planned to visit the night before. We just wanted to explore.
I definitely felt like 3 weeks was a good amount of time in Japan. I feel like there’s a certain amount of time you spend somewhere foreign that’s the peak of your enjoyment. You don’t want to leave feeling like either A) you spent too short of a period and missed out seeing this, this, and that, or B) you overstayed and just feel ‘tired’ of the country. We didn’t see ALL of Japan in 3 weeks, but we did see and do a lot in 3 weeks that made us feel happy & excited to leave, and happy & excited to return soon!