Considering travelling to Japan? Is it for you? Here are a few good questions to ask yourself before you plan a trip to this amazing country.
Ask yourself, do you like…
True quiet - the kind of quiet that allows you to devour books or let your imagination run wild and think clearly with the absence of noise, of phone chatter and obnoxious narcissism.
Immersive culture - Japan is where traditions and modernity coexist in a harmony. It's easy to find a temple that is hundreds of years old within the heart of Kyoto city.
Exquisite cuisine - fresh food with light ingredients, balanced flavours, served in a deliberate manner where you can enjoy each stage of your meal with anticipation for what the next stage will bring.
The natural environment - where the built environment has boundaries over which it won’t cross, within which it will be contained. Where there is no rubbish or visual pollution. Where you can escape the daily workload and truly soak in nature, be it a short ride, a hike or a stroll down a park.
Politeness and manners - Appreciate the joy of warm formality and courteous, considerate service? You will surely enjoy Japan.
Punctuality - the sort of punctuality that means every element of your day can be planned to precision, to maximize your time, avoid frustration and get the most out of an enjoyable day. Forget the dissapointment of missed connections and less time to enjoy the things you like to enjoy.
Good public transport - Do you like clean, efficient and abundant trains and transport that does not require you to catch a taxi everywhere or operate a car? Japan is definitely for you.
Cycling heaven - For those that love bike rides on quiet roads with minimal traffic, lots of trees, along rivers and through small towns, make sure you don’t overlook Japan!
A few common questions I get asked...
Is it expensive? No, not compared to other developed countries, but you have to learn how it works and that means research (or exploring it with an expert ;)
Is it crowded? Only in the major cities and it is the kind of crowded that is manageable, because the Japanese are highly considerate of others and have impeccable manners.
Is it all fish? No, there are other things to eat, but yes you should enjoy fish if you come to Japan. Fish for breakfast? It’s fantastic! If you prefer no fish for breakfast, you’ll still have plenty of options.
Do I have to bathe naked with other people? You don’t HAVE TO, but you should give it a try. A Japanese Onsen is a unique experience that you should at least try once on a visit. It will all make sense when you are there, the traditional bathing is very natural thing there and nobody is embarrassed.
Do I need to learn to speak Japanese? No, but you need to be prepared to be creative to get your communication across and arguably that is what makes it so satisfying. Anyway, you could learn just a few words and people will be impressed.
When should I go? You should go in late March through to June if you like the smells and visual excitement of spring and early summer. Go in October and early November if you like the colours of autumn/fall and even clearer skies than spring. You should go in January and February if you like snow, skiing and winter fun.
The only times you should maybe think twice about a visit is June to September because early it is hot and later there are Typhoons. But really, Japan deals with around 3 Typhoons a year on average and infrastructure handles it well with little impact on day-to-day life, typically they blow over quickly without major damage.
With its peaceful, punctual, polite organisation, beautiful landscapes and thousands of years of history, does Japan sound like your kind of place?... Yes... Then perhaps you should take a look at the wonderful bike tours that are available there. It is my guess that Japan will truly appeal to almost everyone!