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Where to visit in Japan..? The answered is Tokyo and Okinawa

Okinawan first, Japanese second

Facts about Japan, truth about Japanese. They have two faces: One smiling and bowing – the other not so nice!

 JAPAN FOR BEGINNERS: Let´s start unwrapping some facts about Japan and mistakes about its people. Asking, where to visit in Japan and are Japanese people impressed by a foreigner who can fluently speak Japanese?
“Yes” at first, “No” in the end.

Geisha: The Japanese word geisha literally means “art person
Geisha: The Japanese word geisha literally means “art person

It breaks down into this ideology “Japanese people love it when foreigners visit but hate it when they stay.” English is not widely spoken and learning a few basic Japanese phrases can be very helpful when traveling. Here we unpack the not so known part of Japan and its people.


Visit Japan

When talking some basics, the Japanese people will really like you. When you’ve been around a few months, can order at a restaurant and say a few general sentences. You’ll probably have a few Japanese friends that encourage you but communicating back and forth in Japanese is still out of the question.

Japanese get excited when foreigners speak Japanese. But after a while you’re stuck between saying the same things over and over or learning hundreds of new ways of being told “no”.
Close to fluent and Japanese reaction will start to split. Partly because you’re now interacting with a much broader set of Japanese.

City of Light:; illumination Kuwara city
City of Light:; illumination Kuwara city

Culture and names

Japan´s cultural heritage dates back thousands of years. It’s a country with rich culture, history, and absolute unique qualities. Traditional arts like tea ceremony, flower arranging, and calligraphy are highly regarded.
Here are more key facts about Japan and insights into the truth about Japanese people. Read it before you set off to Nippon, Nihon, The Blue Samurai, or Land of Rising Sun, because the sun rises first in Japan before shining any other part of the world.

Japan became igirisu, showing the long history with the Portuguese. Whether you call Japan as Nihon or Wakoku, all the names contain hundreds of years of history and culture.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and is known for its graceful form.
Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and is known for its graceful form.

Always on time

The concept of “omotenashi” is essential in Japanese culture. It means the art of hospitality, where hosts go above and beyond to make guests feel welcome and comfortable.

Punctuality is another Japanese specialty. Being on time is considered a sign of respect, and trains, buses, other public transport systems are known for their precision and reliability.

Cleanliness and politeness

People are generally polite and respectful in their interaction. Bowing is a common form of greeting and showing respect. The dept and duration of the bowing vary. However, there are different levels of politeness based on the formality and situation.

Japan is renowned for cleanliness. You will find strictly clean streets and public spaces, and strong cultural emphasis on hygiene.

Tokyo - The Big City
Tokyo – The Big City

Work and harmony

They have a strong emphasis on group harmony, decisions are often made collectively. Japanese maintain social harmony in various aspects of life.

Long working hours and dedication to the job are common and they are known for strong work ethic. Recent years, there is increasing awareness of work-life balance.

Cherry Blossom season

From snow-capped Mount Fuji to lush forests and beaches, Japan has stunning natural landscapes. Outdoor activities like hiking and hot spring (onsen) visits are popular. Visit Japan during the Cherry Blossom season, when they gather for hanami, flower viewing, under the blossoming cherry trees.

Shintoism and Buddhism are the major religions in Japan, both highlight a connection with nature.

 Nice, not so nice

Japanese are polite in specific situations, and they are definitely nice to foreigners. They are less nice to service people and those in lower position, such as waiters at restaurants. The Japanese have their public face, the one smiling and bowing that tourists see: tatemae. Foreigners rarely see the not so nice honest voice or honne.They may seem happy on the outside, but often they are not. They simply don’t complain openly as foreigners do. Being unhappy is impolite after all. They have a smile and bear it attitude, which while admirable, tends to crush those who can’t cope.

Japan’s suicide rate is sky high. People jump in front of trains regularly. So much so  the government fines the family of those who do to discourage the practice.

Young couple testing kimono before wedding in Tokyo.
Young couple testing kimono before wedding in Tokyo.

Give up marriage

Mental illness services are near non-existent. There’s more than a million Japanese who rarely or never leave their houses. It’s such a problem there’s a name for these people: Hikokomori.

A whole generation of men is known as Soshoku Danshi, men who have basically given up on marriage and love. They can’t afford it, they don’t want to work to death to raise a family. Instead, they have hobbies such as the internet to fill up their time.

Where to visit in Japan

Most tourists tend to visit Tokyo. After few days in the capital, you should consider visiting the subtropical island of Okinawa. This 100km long island is quite different to mainland Japan. The history, the art and culture have been strongly affected by overseas influences unlike anywhere else in Japan.

Okinawan folk entertainment
AN ISLAND TO VISIT IN JAPAN: Okinawan folk entertainment

This is Okinawa

The distance between Tokyo and Okinawa Island is 1613 km in direction Taiwan and the flight time is 2,5 hour. Okinawa is famous for white sand beaches, beautiful sea, wildlife, humid summer, and mildly cold winter.
The cherry blossoms are of different breed from those in the mainland.

The mainland Japanese regard the population as less Japanese because of various differences in food, holidays, dressing style. Many Okinawans consider themselves Okinawan first, Japanese second, and many will be irritated if you do not recognize this. Thousands of Okinawans are among the healthiest and oldest people of the world.

There’s a US military base, so English is relatively more widely used than in the mainland Japan. American Village is one of the most famous tourist spots. Okinawa is also perfect for stargazing.

Japanese food: Colorful, tasteful and popular all over the world.

Fun in Japan

We know what´s Made in Japan, but it is harder to find what is fun in Japan. After searching, I came up with the most famous Japanese proverbs, translated to English: “Fall seven times, get up eight.”

You’ve probably heard the English version: “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” It’s another phrase that means “don’t give up!”

Sorry, my Japanese friends. I didn´t find anything funny or witty to laugh about. In the end, I came up with one that fits me: “Even a fool has at least one talent.”

Fun and Facts about Japan

Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.
Capital: Tokyo has population of 13 million and covers an area of 12,350 sq km / 4,768 sq mi. Japan´s population is 123 million, and 98.5 percent is Japanese.
Profile: Tokyo has everything and there’s nothing quite like this city.
Shopping: Explore the high-tech sights of the capital, immerse yourself in the city’s quirky pop culture or indulge in the luxury shops of Ginza.
Japan has the 11th largest population in the world. The Japanese live the longest.
Japan consists of 6.852 islands. Taking a power nap at work is socially acceptable.
Japan is the home of sumo wrestling.

Agari, the last green tea before leaving.
Agari, the last green tea before leaving.

Slurping accepted

Good manners: There is only one way to eat: Noisily! Slurping a bowl of noodles is a sign of enjoyment.

Mostly mountains: About 70% of Japan is made up of forest and mountains, not suitable for farming or living. There are over 100 active volcanoes, and Mount Fuji is the tallest of 3,776 feet.
Unlucky: The number four (shi) is avoided because it sounds too similar to the Japanese word of death. Buildings don´t have a fourth floor.
Naked festival: Hadaka Matsuri is the most bizarre festival. Thousands of men strip naked in public in Okayama to secure a fortune-filled year.

No signatures: People don´t have signatures, they have their own seal. Known as Hanko, the seal is a name translated into characters.


Plenty of fun things to do in Japan

1. Experience the vibrant atmosphere and cultural celebrations of events like the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, or the Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo.

2. Explore Japanese cuisine. Consider trying local delicacies like takoyaki (octopus balls) in Osaka or Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

3. Visit theme parks: Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, and Fuji-Q Highland near Mount Fuji, known for its thrilling roller coasters.

4. Relax in a traditional hot spring (onsen): Chill out in natural thermal baths found throughout the country. Some popular onsen destinations include Hakone, Kusatsu, and Beppu.

5. Participate in a traditional tea ceremony, where you can learn about the art of tea preparation and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

6. Quirky neighborhoods: Discover unique neighborhoods like Harajuku in Tokyo, known for its vibrant street fashion. Dotonbori in Osaka, famous for its dazzling neon signs and delicious street food.

7. Visit places like Mount Fuji, the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, or the colorful flower fields of Hokkaido. Japan offers stunning landscapes in every season. There are endless opportunities for fun and enjoyment in Japan.

Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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