Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Japan is amazing!

It has been barely a week since I got back from this wonderful country, but I cannot help think about the next time I’ll visit. Truth be told, I was blown away. Japan is amazing.

Let me be honest, though. Japan didn’t impress me with its attractions. The wow factor just wasn’t present. The temples, palaces and castles didn’t make the cut when speaking of the most grand I’ve seen in my life. Their architecture was quite simple, so to speak.

Yet, it is this simplicity that made me fall in love with Japan. Life centered on efficiency, practicality and tons of discipline. It is the everyday life of the Japanese that made me feel that I want to stay there forever. The kindness of the locals was also extraordinary, along with their patience and politeness.

Here are my top everyday life experiences in Japan:

Using their modern toilets

A hot toilet seat in cold weather was just a dream, until it happened in Japan. Moreover, everything you need is just a button away. Bidet, check. Deodorizer, check. Water pressure adjustment, check.

Some public restrooms even have modern toilets. Plus, they have these cute instructions on how to use a toilet!

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

How to use a squat toilet

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

How to use a western toilet

Watching the morning rush hour

We stayed in Umeda, the heart of business, in Osaka. Each morning on our way to the train station, we were met by this sea of business people dressed in black and beige hurrying to get to their place of work on time. They move roughly at the same pace and watching them was just fascinating!

Buying from a vending machine

Oh God, the vendo! I never thought I’ll have as much fun using the vendo. The choices of drinks are just endless. And they dispense not only cold drinks, but hot ones as well! I loved my hot milk tea in a bottle, and my mom just preferred the peach-orange juice.

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Drinks available anywhere

Riding a bullet train

I don’t get to ride long-distance trains often, but I’ve always dreamt of riding a bullet train in Japan. When a bullet train passed at a train station, almost everything shakes. It’s scary to be at the platform, but it’s a smooth ride when you’re inside. Definitely worth every penny.

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Shinkansen, Japan’s bullet train

Asking locals for directions

I loved getting lost in Japan. Someone would help you out, for sure. Ask a local, and they will do their best to point the direction. From old people to kids, from a shopkeeper to a busy mother, everyone just used their hands to communicate when words failed them. There was even a guy who volunteered information, even when we’re not asking. That’s how great they are.

Eating ice cream in the freezing weather

Just when I thought that eating halo-halo and swimming in Baguio was crazy, I ate a cone of ice cream in Japan when the weather was chilly. Yup, I was wearing a coat, but I was munching on that green tea ice cream. It was worth the cold hands.

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Green tea ice cream

Stuffing myself with Japanese food

Almost everything tastes great. Their food is flavorful, but not overpoweringly so. Even the bento boxes at the train station are better than what we have here in Manila. I tried as many dishes as I can, but I know I have to go back for a more in-depth food excursion.

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Okonomiyaki

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Kitsune udon

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Observing how the locals dress

The hour-long train rides gave me such a wonderful time watching how the Japanese dress. Women love making their eyelashes appear longer, while men don their man bags. (Their bags could even pass as women’s purses!) The Japanese generally dress well. Tip: Don’t wear colors in early spring — beige and black are the rules of the game.

Seeing cherry blossoms

I may have been in Japan a few days earlier than the actual cherry blossom season, but I surely didn’t want to miss seeing a tree or two during my stay. Himeji showed me with a blooming cherry tree, but I went slightly off my path to see a weeping cherry tree in Kyoto Gyoen. It was beautiful. One could only imagine how great it must have been to stay in the country during the actual full bloom. But seeing a few was great enough.

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Almost full bloom – a tree in Kyoto Gyoen

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Cherry blossoms up close

Best experiences in Japan; what not to miss in Japan

Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you more about this adventure. Happy travels!