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You could go the easy route and pay a travel agent to plan your trip but that'll cost you a lot of money, money that you may not even ha...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Things You'll Need to Prepare for in Japan

Japan is a very different country, from all other countries in the world. It's a country that has modernized but still held onto its traditions and unique culture. The things you're used to in your own country may not apply in Japan, and I'm not talking about major things such as the language. I'm going to discuss the smaller things that you won't catch unless you actually experience Japan because not a lot of people talk about the smaller things. You could call these things mini culture shocks.

Lack of Trash Cans

Trash cans...trash bins...garbage cans...no matter how you say it, it's definitely lacking in Japan. If you've ever been to Japan or watch videos on Japan you've probably noticed it's a super clean country (at least from what I have to compare it to which is America). How can a country be so clean if there are no trash cans? In Japanese culture it is rude to walk as you're eating. Even the busiest of Japanese salary men have time to sit for a moment to enjoy their meal. The concept is to eat at the place you bought the food from and it can be thrown away there. Even wrappers from small snacks can be thrown away where you bought it form. If you walk and eat you'll find yourself in a dilemma of holding trash around with you for a very long time. The same goes for drinks. You'll be done with your cup, can or bottle and will have to hold onto it for a long time until you finally find a trash can. You and your trash will be very close by the end of your day. If you do plan to buy snacks or drinks throughout the day and travel with them, have a bag to hold them in so you don't have to hold it in your hand or put wrapper in your pockets.
My empty bottle collection.

Not Enough Drink

Now, there's a reason why you're going to be carrying a lot of drink bottles like I did. You'll be very thirsty in Japan. If you're not going to a fast food chain or a restaurant with a big selection on the menu where you can order soft drinks or other drinks, you'll be stuck with a small glass of water or hot tea. The glass will be small enough for your whole hand to cover it. Some places you'll be okay because they'll have a pitcher at your table for refills, but other times it will get really awkward because you'll be asking for refills a lot. In Japan, it is common to eat your meal first and to then enjoy your drink after you're done your meal. This idea may sound crazy to some, like my husband who likes to drink with his meals.
Coco Ichibanya is a fast food chain that supplies a pitcher of water at the table. Look at how small those glasses are!!!

No Napkins

It's not that Japan in uncivilized. I really don't know the reason for not supplying napkins with your meal. This is a problem for the people who are a bit of a messy eater. And if you're lucky and go to to a cheap fast food place they give you napkins but they are tiny and made of a material that is not very good for wiping your hands. Now, another option is to use your oshibori, the towel they give you before your meal. In America, they usually take your oshibori away after you've cleaned your hands. But some restaurants in Japan will leave it their for you throughout your whole meal. That towel can be your lifesaver if you end up with a mess. Other than that, my next suggest is to accept the advertising tissues people are handing out in the streets. You could use those as napkins, and even as toilet paper.
Went to an okonomiyaki restaurant in Osaka. No napkins, only oshibori!

Soda vs. Cola

To the American ear, soda and cola are the same thing. If you say any of these two a person will know you are talking about a soft drink, nothing specific. In Japan these two are completely different. Soda and cola are not a general name for any kind of soft drink. You can find this is mostly true when looking at Japanese candy. Soda is what they usually refer to as Ramune, a Japanese carbonated soft drink. Cola is what they refer to when they a talking about Coca-cola. So on candy packets you'll see that soda is a blue color just like Ramune, and cola is brown like the color of Coca-cola. Be wary of this difference, especially when ordering your drink.
I ordered a cola with my meal at Mos Burger, not a soda. 

A lot of Walking

I always brag about how Japan has an amazing public transportation system but public transportation can only get you so far. You can stop around the area you are wanting to be in but you can't be placed directly at your destination. Taxis can do that for you but I don't suggest taking taxis in Japan because they are very pricey. And not only is it that kind of walking but some temples and shrines are up on mountains that you may have to climb up on foot. I've done that about two times already. The walking is the bad part, it's the walking up part that gets me. Where I'm from, the surface of our land is flat (besides our lovely potholes) and we don't have hills as we are already below sea-level.  A person like myself is not used to climbing up mountains. Just wear comfy shoes on your travels and push through it.

Trying to Find Places

If you went online to look for places to go check out such as a small business, then you may have trouble finding it. Japan is a small country with little room for the people who live there or even more buildings. If the business is pretty new it's most likely in a place you'll never expect to find it. Even some big businesses are not in plain sight for people to find. Japan builds their buildings up, not out. So when looking for a place on the map with an address, be aware that the directions probably got you to the right place but you just need to look upward. Yep, it's probably upstairs of the building. I remember having to go upstairs to a cafe once. Today, it is even common to find businesses renting out rooms in an apartment complex.

That's just a few of the many, but these are the ones I feel no one really talks about online. They're little culture shocks that will just make you a little curious, but you'll get accustomed to these in no time. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Please follow my blog if you like what you see. Also check me out on my social media for more Japan content or just to chat about Japan: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Until next time!!