William Potter, our Print and Digital Marketing Executive, has spent a lot of time in Japan, so has had a good chance to get to know the Japanese people and their culture. These are the top 5 things that he misses most about Japan ...
5. Cherry Blossoms I was lucky enough to witness the cherry blossom in full bloom the first time I visited Japan. Sakura, as it is known in Japan, is the nation’s favourite flower and blooms for little over a week in spring. Cherry blossom viewing parties known as ‘Hanami’ are held during this time and it is custom for friends and family to gather under the trees to eat and drink.
4. Cleanliness Japan is an incredibly clean place, there isn’t a single piece of litter anywhere in sight and you could almost eat your dinner off the floor. Everywhere I went was clean and tidy, it made being in a foreign country so much more comfortable and adds to the great impression of Japan everyone leaves with.
3. Customer service Despite not being able to speak or read much Japanese, I always felt welcome everywhere I went in Japan. When entering a shop or restaurant a chorus of “irasshaimase!” can be heard, which literally means, “come in!”. Everyone is incredibly polite and I even found myself taking up some of the mannerisms, bowing my head to shop assistants as they greeted me. I recall one time I was buying a book at store in Tokyo and as I was leaving nearby employees all thanked me with “arigato gozaimasu!” and a smile. It’s a small thing but it surprised me and it’s something I definitely miss.
2. People I miss being around Japanese people. I miss sharing a tube carriage with students and commuters, all with their heads down, eyes fixated on the glowing screens of their mobile phones or handheld videogame systems. I miss the young, trendy and fashionable people of Shibuya and Harajuku. I miss the obsessive Otaku and the elegantly dressed maids seen wandering the colourful Electric Town of Akihabara. I miss spotting the occasional colourful kimono mingled within a crowd of black suits at the busy JR stations. I miss the polite, friendly and kind people that I grew to love during my stay in Japan and I can’t wait to go back and meet them again.
1. Food Of all the amazing experiences I have had in Japan, the thing I miss most is Japanese food. It’s so convenient and affordable to have a nice meal wherever you go. My favourite Ramen place in Harajuku is a great example of this; ice-cold Oolong tea is waiting for you when you take a seat and your food is delivered within minutes of ordering. Prices are very reasonable too, a bowl of ramen costing roughly ¥600 (about £4 at the time of writing). Other places may opt for a ticket system, where food is ordered on a machine that dispenses printed tickets. These are then given to the chef who will bring your order as soon as you can say “itadakimasu!” (Thank you for the food!). Food is a huge part of the culture in Japan and one of my personal highlights from the time I spent there.
If you have already fallen under Japan's spell and want to experience it for yourself, you can book yourself onto our Japanese adventure holiday Shogun Trail.