When I was 14 years old, my mother gave me the novel “Memoirs of a Geisha” as a Christmas present, and it is with that beautiful story that I fell completely in love with the country and culture of Japan. Now, my life has turned out to be infinitely better than I could have ever imagined it as a 14-year-old girl in Kingsville, Texas, but I always knew that I would make it to Japan. So, 14 years later, my husband helped make my dream come true and planned a trip for our first winter break in Singapore.
Over the next couple of days, I will be posting specific posts about Daniel and I’s adventures while in Japan, but I wanted to write a more broad post about just visiting Japan since that is what interests most people anyways. The Japanese are truly a remarkable people full of contradictions. They are shy and polite, but speak volumes with their manners and hospitality; they are a culture that loves modernization and technology, but have century old traditions that they still observe to this day; they are a very homogenous country with little diversity, but know so much about the world thanks to their travels and respect of all cultures.
Besides falling in love with the people, I just truly enjoyed being in the country and living life among the Japanese, even if for a brief 2 1/2 weeks. There were only 2 downsides to our trip:
1. We were in Japan during the New Year’s Holiday, which is basically when the ENTIRE COUNTRY shuts down. Seriously, New Year’s Day is the equivalent of Christmas Day in the US where you basically go home to your family, eat, and watch TV all day. Still, it was shocking to see a metropolis have nobody in the streets and not even a Starbuck’s open.
2. It was cold. This one actually wasn’t that bad, but I truly hate the cold and even more so now since I live in the tropical paradise that is Singapore. Winter does have a certain beauty to it, but I would love to come back to Japan during the spring and fall to really enjoy the seasons.
Nevertheless, I am not one to end the post on a negative, so here are some of my favorite things about Japan in no particular order:
1. Toto Toilets: Never have I felt so clean and refreshed after using the bathroom. These Toto Toilets are heated, butt-washing, tune-making thrones and are found EVERYWHERE. From public restrooms in a park (which is one of the more terrifying places to use the toilet) to the Shinkansen trains, I was always greeted by a Toto Toilet.
2. Adorable Japanese babies/children. Truly, they are just the cutest and speak Japanese in the highest-pitch voices ever.
3. The most efficient rail system in the entire world. I considered myself to be spoiled by the Singapore MRT system, but Japan completely dominated. The trains were spotless, silent, and even had their own music that played each time the train arrived. How amazing is that?!? Plus they have a train to basically anywhere in Japan, which is not the case in SG….yet.
4. PURIKURAS: If I could bring one thing along with me every day of my life from Japan, the purikuras would be it. They are the Japanese photo booths that all Japanese teenage girls spend hours taking pictures of themselves in. The best part is that they make you look superhuman with your ginormous eyes and flawless skin.
Below are some of my favorite pictures from our trip, hope you enjoy them and much as we enjoyed taking them! Keep visiting to get more updated about our travels to Japan!