The great island nation of Japan is one place in Asia I would like to visit. Okay, I do have to admit that I’ve technically been to Japan. It was on a layover from Mongolia to the US and we had just enough time to use their pristine bathrooms, grab a bite to eat from the sushi bar and hop on our plane. No I didn’t leave the airport but the few hours I did spend in the Narita airport convinced me to one day head back for a real trip. The mix of ancient and modern culture all in the same place fascinates me. Here are the top 4 things on my Japan travel list.
I’ll need to feed myself while I’m traveling between islands and fighting my way through pedestrian traffic in Tokyo. My plan is to stuff my face with the world’s best sushi! There is something about sushi that hits the flavor spot for my tastebuds and paired with a pile of ginger, a Kirin, and a bowl of miso soup I can’t think of a more perfect meal. Mental Floss created an excellent infographic about the Do’s and Don’ts of eating sushi. I’ll have to review this before my trip!
2. Vending Machines
What’s so exciting about vending machines? From what I’ve heard and read there are so many different types of vending machines in Japan it’s outrageous! Here’s a sampling of things you can get from them (thank you Kotaku for your wonderful write-up):
- meat sauce for grilling
- used cell phones
- flower arrangements
- there’s even a vending machine on top of Mt. Fuji!!
The list goes on and on and there’s a more sinister and creepy side of Japanese vending machines that you can look into yourself, but know that it’s a thing. Learning about the popularity of vending machines in Japan for things other than soda or snacks makes me wonder, why those uses aren’t more popular here in the US? I’m sure there are souvenir vending machines, too! That seems like an easy way to pick-up some last minute mementos.
I’ve used a Japanese toilet and let me tell you I was unprepared. There are so many buttons on it and if you don’t know what you’re doing things could get out of hand. I want to know if these high-tech toilets that can warm the seat to a certain temperature, provide a selection of air fresheners, and even modesty music are in every single Japanese home? Either way, on my trip I will be paying close attention to these super-modern shitters.
4. Cat cafés
In the last few years, cat cafés have made their way to the US. I have yet to make it to one though! But, I’m setting my sights high and making it my goal to visit at least one cat café on my trip to Japan. After all, this is the country that invented the cat café idea.Sipping tea and getting to pet a room filled with fluffy, meowing adorable cats sounds amazing!!This is a good start to a travel list and like any list it’s just a starting point. The exciting part about exploring a new place is the unknown adventure that awaits you! I want to add one more thing about Japan, a fun fact if you will: Did you know the history of the word kamikaze is directly related to the Mongols? It’s two words squished together to make one:
from kami ‘divinity’ + kaze ‘wind,’ originally referring to the gale that, in Japanese tradition, destroyed the fleet of invading Mongols in 1281.
I lived in Mongolia for two years and I am still discovering new things about them! And if you’re curious to learn more about my time in Mongolia you don’t have long to wait. I have two posts coming out later this month as a part of my Blogging A-to-Z travel theme!
My Japanese to-do list is all over the place but like I said in my intro, Japan has an incredible mixture of ancient history and funky modern phenomena. What have you done or would like to do in Japan? Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. For an informative and hilarious video on the history of Japan check out this youtube video HERE.
P.P.S. I wrote a blog post about my visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden here in Phoenix. Check it out HERE.