Dis­cover some of Ja­pan’s gems for your next trip

Style Magazine - - Contents - BY TOBI LOF­TUS

Ja­pan, a coun­try of on­sens, tem­ples and de­li­cious food. A coun­try shin­ing un­der vast neon lights, fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy roam­ing the streets, and toi­lets that have a mil­lion and one op­tions to flush.

It is a coun­try of con­flict — the past meet­ing the fu­ture, ex­pan­sive cities ver­sus stun­ning nat­u­ral as­sets — but there is one thing that makes Ja­pan one of the most wel­com­ing coun­tries I’ve ever been to and that’s the peo­ple.

Be­yond the hus­tle and bus­tle that was the crazy tourist ar­eas, lay a cul­ture of po­lite­ness and hos­pi­tal­ity rarely seen in Western coun­tries such as Aus­tralia, Eng­land, and the US.

Peo­ple would go out of their way to make sure ev­ery­thing was okay, that we were ac­com­mo­dated and hav­ing a good time — from Airbnb hosts, shop own­ers, taxi driv­ers and more, ev­ery­one wants to make you feel wel­come.

A man took 10 min­utes out of his time to show us how to use the ticket ma­chines in the Osaka Train Sta­tion.

A restau­rant owner in Ky­oto took us on a lit­tle walk­ing tour of the area we were in while our food was cooking.

It was these lit­tle things, these acts of kind­ness, that made the trip.

Of the two weeks I spent in the coun­try last year, one of those weeks was with my part­ner’s for­mer host fam­ily in a town half­way be­tween Osaka and Tokyo.

It was the high­light of the trip, not just be­cause I got to see things off the tourist track, but be­cause I got to ex­pe­ri­ence life as a Ja­panese per­son would.

That in­cluded vis­it­ing the lo­cal tem­ple, pray­ing to an­ces­tors at the shrine in­side the home, eat­ing tra­di­tional foods for break­fast, lunch and din­ner, and sleep­ing on tatami mats.

Now, not ev­ery­one can be as lucky as I was, but there are many tour com­pa­nies and Airbnb ex­pe­ri­ences that will al­low you to live like a lo­cal.

It is well and truly worth look­ing into as it pro­vides you an in­sight into the cul­ture you won’t get in a ho­tel and in the main streets of Tokyo.

So, when you travel to Ja­pan, make sure to say konichiwa to a lo­cal.

If some­one comes to you in the street and asks to prac­tise their English with you, just do it.

The peo­ple are re­ally what makes Ja­pan not just a good des­ti­na­tion, but an in­cred­i­ble one.

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