I loved Japan, Of Course

Imperial Palace

The two weeks we recently spent in Japan (over Spring Festival/Chinese New Year) must have been two of the most long awaited of my life! Justin and I have both wanted to go to Japan for years and finally we were going. We spent the first week exploring Tokyo and Kyoto- which were just as amazing as I had expected. The second week was a wonderful one spent with friends in a stylish rented house in Niseko (a skiing/snowboarding resort all the way up in Hokkaido).

Cutsie Japan

Ryokan Kyoto

JR Pass

I loved japan, of course. It was obvious I would. I loved everything about it (ignoring all the sexism in the workplace and all that stuff – fortunately you don’t experience that on vacation). So many of the things that really annoy me about living in Beijing (inconvenient transport, pollution, pushing and shoving) just didn’t happen in Japan. I’ll have several posts coming up about our visit to Japan but, for now, here is a list of some of the things that I really liked about Japan.

  • Details and design. There were so many beautiful details and little touches everywhere. From plants to gift wrapping, everything is aesthetically pleasing and designed so well!
  • Amazing transport. You can get anywhere in Tokyo quickly and easily using the JR or metro. There’s never any need for a beat up taxi. What’s that? Taxi’s are amazingly modern, clean and even have seat belts (which the driver makes sure you use!). Perfect! (Taxis are expensive though compared to Beijing though..).
  • Bullet trains. Tokyo to Kyoto in just over two hours- yes please! Even if they do make me feel slightly motion sick for the first few minutes…
  • Friendly, helpful, polite people. And they love to queue. This Brit loves Japanese manners!
  • Everything is so clean! The streets, the bathrooms, the hotels and onsens. Living in such a clean place is my dream!
  • Fresh air– no pollution masks needed.
  • Amazing food– I’ll have to do a post on all the great food we ate but it WAS possible for these two veggies to eat amazingly well with just a few minutes research. There’s even a fully vegan ramen restaurant- I’m still dreaming about that delicious noodle soup.
  • Pretty paper. I love a beautiful notebook, postcard or other paper product so Japan was absolutely heaven for me! I want to go back just to shop in the paper stores. Really.
  • Inspiration. I found Japan such an inspiring place. I would move there and craft, write and take photos all day if I could. Then I’d spend the rest of my time buying notebooks and eating noodles.
  • Sapporo airport– how amazing is this airport ? There’s endless food, shops and entertainment. Before security that is. After security there’s not much to do.
  • Sakura everything. The cherry blossoms hadn’t bloomed when we were there, though some plum blossoms had, but that didn’t stop all the coffee and sweets being all pretty, pink and sakura flavoured!
  • Onsen. I wouldn’t set foot in the gross changing room showers at my Beijing gym, but I’d happily share a big, hot, clean bath with unknown women in Japan. Showering before a bath, why doesn’t everyone do this?
  • Walkable neighbourhoods. As I live in the hutong in Beijing, I’m lucky to live in a very walkable neighbourhood. But so many neighbourhoods of Beijing just consist of big, ugly roads. I found Japan very walkable and it was such a refreshing change!
  • Lawsons– greatest convenience store ever.

Hello Kitty Kyoto

Golden pavilion

Tokyo and coffee

I seriously loved Japan and would go back for every holiday for many years to come if I could!

Have you ever been to a place you’ve been wanting to go forever? Did it live up to expectations?

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17 thoughts on “I loved Japan, Of Course

  1. Ah sigh…still waiting for my opportunity to visit Japan…there are many things I just want to see for myself which I often read here in blogs these days or saw on documentaries…I really can not wait!

  2. I have been dying to go to Japan for what feels like forever! I’m so glad to hear that it lived up to your expectations, because when you’ve built up a place for so long it’s easy to be disappointed. I’m actually really surprised to hear that you two had such an easy time as vegetarians. I don’t know a ton about veggie travel in Japan but for some reason I keep thinking it will be really hard. Oh my gosh, a vegan ramen place?! You have no idea how much I love ramen. I would kill to have that place in Jakarta 😉

    1. I hope you get the chance to go soon, Justine! It’s such an interesting and beautiful place. I was surprised about the veggie food too- but we were able to find loads of veggie restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto! I imagine it would be different in more rural places though. I am seriously craving those vegan noodles- we went there 3 times it was so good!

  3. Can’t wait to read more about Japan – especially the food. We were just in the Philippines, where waiting in lines never happens, so I feel your pain there! It’s a difficult cultural difference for me sometimes. haha. 🙂 I’ve only been to the Tokyo airport, but even that was super clean. The toilets were those automated ones – a far cry from the squatty potties in SE Asia!

  4. I’ve worked in Japan twice and I greatly miss the country. I’ve never been to Sapporo though but I’m sure it is a city worth visiting. About the food, I survived in Yamagata Prefecture as a vegetarian and the bigger cities are home to a healthy number of Indian restaurants. Even my small town had a South Asian restaurant that had vegetarian options.

  5. Taipei was a city I was very interested in. All the things you mentioned about Japan, I can say the same thing with Taipei, honestly. 🙂 I do hope I get to visit Japan. I am glad you got to visit. 🙂

  6. I felt the same way about Japan! Everything was so perfect, the air was so clean, everything was so pretty and perfect. And then I went to China right afterwards…talk about a complete 180!

  7. I’ve wanted to go to Japan for years and I’m finally going next month, for my birthday! I’m so excited for all the food and scenery! (and clean air and free internet and all those other things you can’t get in China…)

  8. I spent a week in Kyoto and just fell in love with it. <3 And I totally agree about Japan being amazing for veggies. Coming from a meat-loving country like Korea, Japan was such a breath of fresh air. 😀 I love your pics.

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