Discover some of Japan’s gems for your next trip
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.