Hello Groovy People.
This will be a multipart blog series about Japan and all things Japan related. Since I lived there for a year, I have discovered many things that may help future travelers. Each section is about different things one may encounter while living abroad in the land of the rising sun.
Getting around in Japan can be easy depending on where you are. If you were in a rural area, or countryside, going places requires a car. If you live or vacation in Tokyo, then you are in luck. All the hot spots are just a train stop away. The best part is that it’s really cheap. For example, my former town was Futako Tamagawa. To go to Shibuya, Roppongi, or even Mitaka, cost less than or about 10USD roundtrip. I guess I can compare traveling from Maplewood New Jersey to New York, which costs 15USD roundtrip. The best thing about the trains in Tokyo, is that round trips are very cheap, even if the destination is 10 or 40 minutes away. You basically get more for your money.
The Japanese are known for their attention to detail and punctuality. Most people in the world like to be one time. The trains in Tokyo are always on time. I mean always on time! It is rare when they are late, and even so, they will apologize to make up for it. There’s also no guess work about where you get on the train. The doors always open in designated spots, which are marked, on the station floor. If you are running late yourself, then there will always be another train ready to take you within minutes. The massive system that is Japan Railways, is the most organized system around. I would compare it to the Metro in Washington.
Japan, like America, has many small stores such as 7eleven. However, while most shops have candy bars and very limited food, Japan’s stores have an abundance of yummies that exceed any other in the states.
Japan has 3 convenience stores that I frequent during my stay. There was 7eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson. There are many more, but for now I’ll only speak about the ones I went to. Each of those 3 stores had delicious, and healthy meals. They served perfectly portioned bento boxes, which are lunch boxes. Not the type your mom used to make with the cartoon characters on the side. These are meals that can vary from rice, meat, and vegetables, or soup bowls, which can include noodles. There are different types of noodles you can eat. You can have udon (thick noodles), soba (which is normally eaten cold), or thinner noodles (like ramen). These soup bowls come with vegetables and/or meat, such as seafood. There’s normally a sauce or broth that can be heated up by the store clerk at the counter. They will even ask you if you want your food heated up. This will be in Japanese, but the sentence is “atame masu ka”. If you are quick to eat it, then say “hai” which means yes. Or if you don’t need it heated up, you can say “daijoubu” or that’s ok.
The best thing about convenience stores, is that they all sell similar foods, and many other different ones. Rice balls are a great lunch or snack. There are many kinds, like shrimp, salmon, salmon roe (fish eggs), natto (fermented soy beans), and much more. The variety at these stores is endless, and I only mentioned 3 that I went to. Trust me when I say there are many more that sell even more yummy options for food. Did I mention they’re not that expensive?
If you are lucky enough to find one of these, then you must go inside! Daiso is what a dollar store should base their existence around. They sell anything you need for the house. You need a small garbage bin, Daiso has it. You need garbage bags? Daiso. You need a belt? Daiso. You need picture frames and a yoga mat? Daiso. Markers and other stationary for work? Daiso. Cups, plates, mugs, bleach? Daiso.
These are just some of the many things you can buy at Daiso. The quality is very good, if not out of character for a dollar store. While some items like a belt may be 2 or 5 dollars, most of the items I mentioned are only 1 dollar. I bought many things for my apartment from Daiso. Daiso is what you need for life and yes, you must go.
Have you ever looked outside a restaurant and thought, can this be a good place to eat? Then you get inside, sit down, and realize, you hate the food? Don’t you wish you could see what they are selling like a display window for clothes? Then Japan has you covered. Japan has a great way of letting you know what you are getting even before you step inside a restaurant. There are always wax replicas of the food, usually along with the price. That way, you can see the portion size and cost, in case you are the frugal type. Even if you aren’t, reading menus in Japanese can be difficult. So seeing the food, will let you know what’s inside, and if it’s worth the money.
Japan is a wonderful country. Not perfect, but the list of convenient things are just breathtaking. Stay tuned for more information about Japan. If you want specific blogs about certain things in Japan, please message your comment below.
Until next time…