Would like to know the ballpark price of this trip before we attend info session so we can know if this is in our realm of possibility
TOP Reasons to Love Japan
TOP Reasons to Love Japan
Why this bucket-list destination is well worth the journey to the other side of the world...
So much of Japan's 4,000-year history and culture is captured beautifully and meticulously throughout the island nation. Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and palaces are preserved and treasured throughout the country, but by far the largest concentration is in Kyoto, which was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, and today's capital, Tokyo.
Not only are the intricate buildings and artifacts presented well, but many of these national treasures are encapsulated in incredibly beautiful, sculpted gardens that fit perfectly with surrounding landscape. It is almost impossible to take a bad photo in these locations.
Unlike European sites, these sites are not only filled with tourists but with Japanese people who appreciate and continue to honor their national treasures. You can see their pride and experience their culture.
Japan has some of the best food in the world, ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to the neighborhood noodle shops. You can expect high-quality food prepared with great respect and care. Even the worst "hole-in-the-wall" sushi restaurants in Japan will be far superior to the best sushi restaurant in Western and Central New York. I make that statement with confidence.
There are so many varieties of food that we don't know about in North America. It is almost impossible to try all the types of dishes within a week. Within a 10-minute walk from our hotel, we had hundreds of restaurant choices. They are present in such a high concentration that you simply need to take a walk when you are ready to eat. This also means extreme competition. Restaurants with mediocre food are service simply cannot survive in Japan.
The majority of the restaurants display a good portion of their menu in plastic replicas, and they are good representation of the actual dish served. You can take a photo of the dish you would like and simply point to it. All the prices on the menu include taxes, and there is no tipping. Service is expected to be included in the bill, and restaurants are often insulted when you leave a tip. When I left a cash tip, they chased after me to return my money.
Japan is certainly not a cheap destination for shopping. However, there is an incredible range of products, many of which you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
My emphasis, though, is on the experience. All stores big and small take great care to present their products with incredible detail and care. Services are prompt, extremely courteous and almost always exceed what you are used to in the United States.
Like restaurants, the shops are concentrated in smaller spaces. In comparison to U.S cities, there will be three to four times more stores within a given area. There is so much to see and experience.
These stores are also at locations that we do not always expect in the United States. For example, the train station in Kyoto houses more than 200 restaurants and shops. It also connects directly to two major department stores, each of which has more than 20 restaurants. The entire facility is tastefully decorated, with multiple events such as concerts and shows going on simultaneously.
Harmonious Blend of Old and New
The Japanese cities are much more modern and futuristic in comparison to U.S. or European cities, yet such modernity is blended harmoniously with cultural heritage and tradition.
In the midst of the busiest sections of the cities, you can find shrines and temples with Japanese men, women and children dressed in traditional costume to celebrate various occasions. Small alleys lead to bathhouses, tiny restaurants and shops with classic Japanese products and services.
You really cannot choose one or the other. You are presented with both old and new, and they seem to fit naturally.
Cleanliness, Safety and Efficiency
Everywhere you go, these three traits are front and center.
In Japan, you will not find any trash cans. They expect everyone to take care of their own waste. There is no such thing as overflowing waste bins, and absolutely no one litters. All buildings, parks and facilities are cleaned and polished constantly. The level of cleanliness is something you cannot find anywhere else in the world.
Other than the typical pick pockets found in large cities around the world, crime in general is unheard of in Japan. Combine that with extreme politeness, and respect for other people's privacy and you rarely have any reason to be disturbed. Even with all the cars on the street of Tokyo, you do not hear any honking. Even with millions of passengers using the subway system, I could not find one person talking on their phone. In the midst of an ocean of humanity, you feel safe and at peace.
The efficiency and promptness are unrivaled. Trains and buses are always on time. Recently, the train company that operates their bullet trains (Shinkansen) put out a full-page apology in the Japanese national newspaper because one of their trains left 20 seconds early! I purposely rode the train station in the busiest train station in Tokyo. The Shinjuku station has more than 3 million riders per day. Even in the busiest hours, people were extremely organized and no one had the need to rush. Efficiency and promptness are given in Japan. You can count on it.
Travel with Tae
Join us on a group trip to Japan in September 2019, hosted by Tae Kim, Chief Operating Officer AAA of Western & Central New York. This one-of-a-kind itinerary was developed exclusively for members of AAA Western and Central New York.
Learn more at a FREE informational night:
Tuesday, April 30 - AAA Penfield
Wednesday, May 1 - AAA Amherst
Thursday, May 2 - AAA Camillus