Few years back, I visited Japan with my friends. My intention was to “tick off” the country, because I’m not a great fan of whole Anime culture and it didn’t seem like my cup of tea.
But instead, I was blown away by the incredible mix of old and the new and recently I find myself wanting to go back there. This is my subjective top 5:
Japanese food is not really about sushi. The variety of food is much greater than you would expect and everything is delicious (except for nanto – fermented soy beans…)
Things to try
- Bento box – my definite fav. This is a neat lunch box, sold near offices and this is what Japanese people really eat. This boxes have a cute assortment of dishes
- Proper Miso soup
- Conveyor belt sushi – the cheapest variety there is and Japanese people consider it subpar quality. More modern ones let you order from an iPad and automatic conveyor belt brings you your sushi
- Takoyaki – battered octopus pieces deep-fried in waffle iron. Literally, very hot!
- Omu – Rice ommelette with, well, almost everything inside
- Tuna – tuna is a big thing in Japan and it tastes like heaven in any form
- Any streetfood
I fell on love with old Japanese tradition. Enchanting red temples inside a lush green forest are just spectacular. Respect for tradition is an important thing in Japan.
Things worth checking out:
- Splendid temples in Kyoto
- Holy Deer in Nara
- Little temples anywhere
- Tsukiji Fish Market
Just sheer out-of-context weirdness
Things worth checking out
- Alcatraz ER – a prison/hospital themed cafe. Weird fun!
- Dog / cat cafe
- Japanese toilet seat. Really!
- Any “supposedly european” dish. It will be the weirdest european dish you’llever have
Japanese are very modern, but the tradition still lives on in day-to-day struggle.
Lost in translation
- Kaizen – Philisophy of never-ending improvement
- Mottainai – Regret concerning waste. Or resources, but also unnecessary action or a word.
- Ikigai – A reason for being, something that drives you
- Komorebi – Sunlight filtering through trees
- Shinrin-Yoku – Visit to forest for relaxation / “forest bathing”
- Yugen – A profound understanding of the universe that triggers a string emotional response
- Majime – Reliable person who gets things done without drama
- Sumo match
- Onsen – Hot spring/spa. I highly recommend convincing a friend to jump into a “electric stimulation” bathtub. So much fun!
- Pachinko – Hydhly addictive pinball machine. In Japan there are whole floors of these machines. I cannot express weirdness of it. You have to see it.
- Traditional tea ceremony
- Jiro dreams of sushi – one of my favourite movies about a michelin-star chef and Japanese work ethic
- No Sex Please, we’re Japanese – splendid documentary about Japanese population decline
- 1041uu – I dont know the background, but these animated pixel art gifs about Japanese life are captivating
- Mateusz Urbanowicz – Polish illustrator living in Japan creating beautiful art about Japanese reality
Stuff to come back for
For me, there is still so much to see. Of course I want to there again!
- Love hotels – tiny cheap hotels with a variety of decorum. Their main purpose is not hard to figure out, but weirdness may be interesting
- Ryokan – Traditional Japanese “Inn”
- Sagano bamboo forest – A bamboo forest near Kyoto
- Hand-Made Damascus steel Chefs knife – I want one
- Shinkansen – Japanese bullet train
This fullfills my Bucketlist #78