Japan is not adventurous, crazy, or cheap like many of the countries I love. But it is different and there’s a ton of things I really like about it, making it one of my favorite countries. Perhaps my opinion is also partly skewed by the fact that we stayed with family and friends the entire time and got a clearer perspective of the country. Also, my paternal ancestors are from here, so maybe that connection has some pull.
The highlights of the trip were definitely seeing Josh, the Evanston/Mizuta, and Nagano/Tosu families. They not only gave us places to stay, but took us around, treated us to tons of excellent food, and showed us true Japanese hospitality. Then there’s the food. I think Japanese food is the best in the world and I realized I’ve only been exposed to a fraction of it in the US. One of my favorite things to do has been to go to convenience store or supermarket and buy lunch. Fresh sashimi, nigiri, or maki is always on offer and cheap. Like Chinese and Koreans, Japanese love beer. Can’t argue with that. Beyond the food, people are so kind and polite here (also a staple of East Asian nations). People just seem to be generally more considerate in this part of Asia (and the world) and Japan is an extreme. Extreme politeness, helpfulness, and kindness. I like that things work here too. Things are futuristic and everything from transportation to daily conveniences are efficient and effective. As an American, I don’t visit too many places with a higher standard of living than home, so Japan was interesting in this way. Lastly, I also liked the landscape, with all the greenery and mountains. Some parts of Kyushu reminded me of Indonesia, which I guess shouldn’t be too surprising since both nations are volcanic archipelagoes. All in all, it was an enjoyable three weeks in a place that Joylani and I agree we’ll return to someday.