Meeting Japan: What I've Learned

By Elie - 8:00 AM

Days since my last post:2

And so every day of Japan has been captured, with more words than I could have imagined being typed out into this space for me to look back into in many years to come. I'm hoping to one day see that I've experienced this when I turn 30 or something, and that I'll find the same spark then to always be on the hunt for new adventures. Now that I'm coming to a close on this Japan chapter, I'd like to list out several things I've learned about Japanese culture through the past 10 days.

I will miss every part of this trip, really.

Walk fast, and stand on your right.
I guess it's no secret that Japan is a country where productivity is at its best and people who work there are constantly on the go. In Malaysia we have a habit where we stand on the left if we're not walking up or down the escalator, but if you're in Japan then remember to reverse this and stand on the right. Don't hog the escalator in twos because that's just rude as time is of the essence to the locals in Japan!

It's okay to eat and drink in trains, just be clean about it.
Perhaps it's in their spirit of wasting no time but the locals can be seen eating or having a drink of their favourite coffee and drinks from the convenient stores (Also known as the kombini) on trains. This is especially common for long distance travels such as taking the train from Osaka to Kyoto, so if you're wondering if you can take that onigiri you have onboard, then by all means do it. Just don't litter and remember to keep scraps from falling on the floor. If it does fall, pick it up and dispose of it well.

Osaka City, a place where even manhole covers are pretty.

Do not pay people directly, place it on a tray.
I don't know if this is a Japan thing but in Osaka we've never EVER paid someone by passing the cash to their hand! Even as we walked into Lawson's or FamilyMart (Two of their most popular convenient stores), we were always prompted to leave our money on a tray in front of us and then the cashier will pick it up and exclaim loudly how much you've paid them. They will then give you change...and count them in front of you to avoid discrepancies. Talk about honesty.

Train tickets go by price, not place. 
Back in Malaysia, we buy train tickets by picking a place at the machine and then we're prompted to pay whatever amount it is. In Japan however, you're prompted to pick the price of the location you're going to, insert the right amount of money into the machine, and then you'll get your ticket! To know the price, just find out your location from the rate boards above the machines located at the stations. It's an interesting concept and I only managed to learn this on the 2nd last day of my trip.

This is my ¥560 JR ticket from Kyoto to Osaka.

There will be a fast train, and then a faster train.
When you're taking regular trains such as those from the Hankyu line or Keihan line, or whatever else that isn't a subway, then be warned that there will be regular trains, fast trains, or even faster trains. If memory serves me right they're called "Local", "Semi-Express", and the "Rapid Express". The difference is that the quicker trains stops at less stations so be careful when you board them! You'll normally be able to spot the difference from the information board, or just be nice and ask the locals around you!

Always look out for travel passes, your wallet will thank you. 
The one thing I loved most about my entire travel most times in Osaka was that we could hop on and off the trains between Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara all thanks to this magical thing called the Kansai Thru Pass, and the Osaka Amazing Pass!

The Kansai Thru Pass will take you on all trains; including the Hankyu Railways, Kintetsu Lines, Keihan Railways, Nankai Railways and several other lines around Kobe, Hyogo, Wakayama, and Shiga! It only costs ¥4,000 for a 2-day ticket and ¥5,200 for a 3-day ticket with UNLIMITED rides! Tickets are available at most tourist information counters in the city, or you can get it straight from the airport at the arrival gate. Click here for more information.

The Osaka Amazing Pass on the other hand gives you access on all Osaka subways, trams, and buses for unlimited rides, as well as free access to about 31 facilities and discount vouchers to 17 other places! It only costs ¥2,300 for a 1-day ticket and ¥3,000 for a 2-day ticket, which in my opinion was the best decision EVER. Tickets are available at most tourist information counters in the city, or you can get it straight from the airport at the arrival gate. Click here for more information.

Spare change is good, there's always a vending machine.
Japan is literally vending machine heaven, and you'll see one in every single nook and cranny you walk around in. If I were to count it right, we walk past about 10 to 12 vending machines every single day from our Airbnb unit to the Dome-mae Chiyozaki subway station and they sell a variety of drinks at a variety of prices. Also check for special discounts from these vending machines, and all your spare change will be gone to oblivion...because there's just something about hearing your drinks clank down the machine.

I now wish I never left.

Enjoy yourself, make plans for a return.
The best lesson of all? Always make plans to return to Japan. Because everything about Japan is magical. Until my next trip to this amazing place...sayounara, Japan.

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  1. japan is the only country where missing my flight home isn't a bad thing :D

    1. I know right? T_T
      Or a cancelled flight where they force you to stay for another day, cause even their airport is better than ours.


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