There are of course dozens of more things I love about Japan, but for brevity’s sake, I chose five. Being that we are moving back in less than two months, I thought I’d share a little about what excites me.
1. I LOVE the convenience stores. The food is so much better than what we can get here unless you go to a WaWa. There are many fresh options that are neatly packaged for a quick, healthy, and easy lunch. Normally quick and easy does not equate to healthy, but in Japan it does.
2. They have vending machines everywhere (I’ve seen them in the middle of a country field) and you can get hot coffee or tea in a can. This is a jarring experience when first one picks up the can from the dispenser. It’s quite hot! But so appreciated on a cold, blustery day.
You can also get ice cold coffee or tea and I’ve definitely pressed the wrong button and received the disappointingly cold can on a frigid morning as I’m waiting for the train. Blue = cold; Red = hot, quite simple really, but alas mistakes still happen.
3. Omiyage (oh-me-ya-gay). These are gifts or souvenirs that you buy to give to friends, family, or coworkers when you return from a trip. Generally, you can buy candy, sweet treats or pastries that are beautifully packaged and wrapped and quite tasty.
These shops are everywhere (train stations, airports, rest stops, hotels, etc) so there really is no excuse to not to come back with Omiyage. “Gifto?” the salesperson will ask? Hai, Gifto onegaishimasu.
4. Public spaces are so clean. Though seemingly counter-intuitive because there are NO public trash cans anywhere, there also isn’t any trash laying about. The Japanese pack up their trash and bring it home with them. This took some getting used to and I admit to stashing my trash in a restroom at the first opportunity.
We definitely were unprepared for our dog deciding to unload in the middle of the sidewalk as we walked to the car on the way back from the vet. Ugh?? We thankfully had a plastic bag in the car, but what do we do with it? Yeah, we had to bring it back in the car with us. Not ideal, but hilarious.
5. There are festivals all year long. Every town has its own festival to celebrate whatever tradition or special day happens to be occurring at that time of year. Similar to our own street festivals with food and music, but different in their cultural entertainment with dancing, drums, parades and so much more. I had the pleasure of dancing traditional Tanabata in several parades and festivals (pictured).
I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m looking forward to learning and seeing more this second time around. If you follow me on Instagram, be sure to look for my posts in late summer.