14 Things I Learned While Traveling in Japan

Traveling has a way of opening your eyes and teaching you things you never even realized you didn’t know.  Here are 14 of the takeaways I learned while on our recent trip to Japan!  (Click here for the rest of my blog posts from this trip.)

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14 Things I Learned While Traveling in Japan

  • Our electrical plugs (iphones, computers, etc.) work in their outlets without the use of a converter.
  • Sometimes the tap water can taste different when you travel.  It tastes just the same in Tokyo as what we’re used to and I had no issues drinking it.
  • They drive on the left side of the road in Japan, which means they walk on the left too.  Takes a while to get used to because walking on the right is so engrained in our brains as Americans!  In Tokyo there seemed to be yellow lines dividing all of the sidewalks and that helped me keep it straight.
  • Uber works in Tokyo, and all of the Uber and taxi drivers wear black suits and white driving gloves.
  • Once you’re on the subway or train the announcements are often made in English as well as Japanese.  I was much less nervous about navigating the railways once I realized this!
  • All signs, menus, etc. are in Japanese but many are also in letters that are familiar to us and things are spelled phonetically.  Plus most menus have pictures so communicating without speaking the language isn’t as difficult as I’d thought it would be.
  • You don’t tip in Japan, it can come across as rude.
  • The restaurant photos in windows and on menus often show the meat or seafood uncooked…kind of odd seeing slabs of raw meat advertised and that threw me off at first because I kept thinking to myself “I don’t want a raw piece of meat!”  But once you order it it’s almost always cooked (unless it’s sushi or something).
  • I was worried about how safe I would feel as an obvious foreigner, but I felt completely safe the whole time, even wandering the city on my own.  Everyone was kind and helpful.
  • You don’t see Japanese wearing sunglasses very often.
  • Most bathrooms don’t have hand towels or air dryers and it seems that most women carry around a small washcloth in their purses that they use to dry their hands.
  • You rarely see trash cans outside, yet there is hardly any trash on the ground!
  • The air quality can be very poor, and you can see the pollution in the sky.  Many people wear face masks all day long when they’re outside.
  • Japan is famous for it’s cherry blossoms, but the camellias are just as beautiful!  We don’t have any cold weather or spring flowers in Hawaii so I can’t stop taking photos of them all!
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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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