This Faraway Friday is where it all began for me–Japan! This was my first solo trip and my first trip across an ocean. I might have been too young and dumb to be scared because I was just too excited to feel anything else! I hope if you choose to visit this beautiful, friendly country, you’ll love it, too. Here are 10 reasons you should consider Japan for your next trip, whether you’re solo, a couple, friends, or a whole family!
10. Experience a Completely Different Culture
OK, if you’re from Asia, the culture is not as much of a shock as it is from the Western world. But for a small town girl from Tennessee, nothing could have been more different than living in Japan! The language is completely different, the food is different (even the rice), the people looked different from me, and I was definitely an oddity in the small Japanese town where I lived! It was exhilarating, eye-opening, and life-changing for me, and if you’re open for it, it will be for you, too.
Pearls were first cultivated in Japan. Did you know? I didn’t! If you make it to Japan, consider a day trip to Mikimoto Pearl Island. Learning about how pearls were and still are cultivated and seeing the first pearls ever cultivated was incredible! We got to watch an ama diver demonstration. They have to be able to hold their breath for several minutes.
Nothing’s quite as cool as a ninja! While in Ueno, we got to visit a ninja house, complete with secret doors, moving walls, hiding places, and nunchucks! It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, along with the ninja demonstration and dressing up like ninjas! This was definitely a highlight of my summer there.
There are castles in many countries, but the Japanese castles were so special. Their architecture is beautiful, and they have been well-preserved just as you would expect a Japanese castle to be. Several have museums inside highlighting the local area, samurai, or ancient Japanese practices. Each one was unique and fascinating!
6. Respect for Old and New
Japan is a juxtaposition of old and new. They value their elders and all things that have survived for centuries, and yet they always have the latest technology, fashions, and trends. I found this to be especially true upon looking out a window in Tokyo:
I loved my day trip to beautiful Nara! Have you ever pet a deer? Seen the largest wooden Buddha in the world? You can do both in this ancient capitol of Japan! There are thousands of tame deer just roaming around the city. It was one of the strangest and most wonderful sights I’ve ever seen!
4. Experience Peace as a Priority
Japan was a wonderful first trip for lots of reasons, not the least of which were the opportunities I had to think and reflect. I grew so much while I was there, largely because mindfulness and peacefulness were cultural priorities. I found myself sitting in beautiful gardens, looking out over the ocean at my favorite shrine, and writing feverishly in my journals while I tried to savor my experiences.
Sushi remains my favorite food! Maybe it’s the nostalgia of remembering how I ate it practically every day, but whatever the reason, I’m thankful I had the opportunity to try so many different kinds! It’s just better in Japan. Did you know they do not export their rice? It’s a different kind of rice than what you can get anywhere else.
This was my favorite place in all of Japan. Again, this is a place for peacefulness. It’s right on a calm, beautiful bay, just a 40 minute bike ride from my little apartment. Legend has it, the big rock and the little rock got together thousands of years ago and birthed the Japanese Islands! It was and still is very special to me, and I visited often that summer. I would pray and sing church songs on my bike rides, and then I would end up in this beautiful place where I could sit by myself and take time to enjoy a beautiful day by the sea.
1. It’s Perfect for Solo Travelers
Truly, there could not have been a better place for me to visit as a first-time solo traveler. The people in Japan were kind, friendly, helpful, and just all-around honest. It’s easy to get around with a very efficient and affordable train system, and everywhere you look is just breath-taking. The hills, mountains, waterfalls, ocean, gardens–all of it is pristine and perfect!
I hope this glimpse of Japan has inspired you to visit! Where did you go for your first solo trip, or where would you like to go solo? Tell me in the comments section below!