20 Things Everyone Who Leaves Japan Misses

20 Things Everyone Who Leaves Japan Misses

There's no place like the Land of the Rising Sun.
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Living in Japan is one the craziest, fun, and interesting experiences ever. Leaving Japan, on the other hand, is a whole different story. Once you've been surrounded by the constant bustle of Tokyo, the quaint countryside, and the always friendly natives, it's hard to leave. It's only until after leaving, that most people start to realize some of the best things about this beautiful country that they so dearly miss, and here are a few of them.

1. The great public transportation.

Getting around Japan, especially the greater Tokyo area, is a piece of cake with the punctual public transit. The easy-to-use, accessible trains are definitely one of the things everyone misses after leaving Japan.

2. Convenient stores having decent food.

Japanese convenient stores have a wide selection of fresh snacks, meals, and drinks to be enjoyed by all, even sumo wrestlers. In fact, it's usually one of the first things you miss once you leave. "Really, the only thing the gas stations in America have are slurpies?"

3. Cherry blossoms.

'Nough said.

4. Outstanding customer service, even without tipping.

Japanese hospitality is ridiculously courteous, and the politeness spreads into every aspect of society, especially customer service. Staff are always respectful and helpful, which is definitely something most miss when they leave Japan.

5. The delicious food.

Japanese food is diverse and delicious. Beef bowls, friend rice, sushi, curry, and "karage" (fried chicken) are a few of the yummy meals people crave when they're gone.

6. Cool toilets that make noises, heat up, and do just about everything else.

There's nothing worse than having to sit on a cold toilet seat in the middle of winter. The feeling of a warm seat or the possibility of a nice bidet spray is something that everyone misses after moving out of Japan.

7. Cleanliness.

For having little to no public trash cans, Japan is extremely clean. It's fabulous to be on the public transit and not have to worry about getting sick from just sitting on the germy seat.

8. Low crime rates and a greater sense of personal safety.

Japan has one of the lowest crimes rates in the world -- so safe that children can ride the train alone to school by age six, and sometimes even younger. You miss the sense of security you get from being in Japan that you don't quite feel in other places.

9. Drivers being super polite, despite the crazy traffic.

If you've ever driven or ridden in a car in Japan then you know how crazy the small roads can get -- congested with bicycles, pedestrians and mopeds. Despite all the chaos, the drivers are surprisingly calm and polite, even pausing to let gas station attendants lead cars back onto the road. Horns and flashers are often used as signs of gratitude rather than anger, and people even bow to say thanks while driving. Once you leave you may begin to wish that people everywhere drove so nicely (but you probably won't miss the traffic).

10. Not having to worry about daylight savings.

Once you get over the sun rising so early, it's nice to not have to worry about being late to work by one hour. "Do you fall forward or fall back?" Chances are once you've left Japan, you'll wish you were back, not having to ask yourself such questions.

11. Being able to use a Pasmo card at most places you go.

A "Pasmo" is a card that you fill with money to pay for public transit. Unlike some other similar cards that only work in one city, Pasmo is special in that it works throughout Japan -- and on more than just trains and buses. Most people who leave Japan find themselves wishing they could just tap a card on the vending machine, rather than having to get out cash to pay for a little snack or drink.

12. The architecture.

Whether it be the old Shinto and Buddhist temples of Kyoto or the modern skyscrapers of Yokohama, Japan has some of the world's most beautiful, diverse and innovative architecture. It is sure to leave you missing it when you're gone.

13. The appreciation and celebration of nature.

The Japanese love their seasons (and it's no surprise why once you experience it for yourself). Festivals and themed goods help commemorate all the best things that the four seasons have to offer. Although spring is definitely the most famous (cherry blossoms, duh), all of the seasons are loved by the Japanese people. From ice cream shops to clothing stores to public areas, the excitement of the changing seasons is something to be missed.

14. The automatic money-counting cash registers.

You don't ever have to worry about being short-changed in Japan. Most stores have machines built into the cash register where the cashier inserts your money and your exact change is automatically dispensed.

15. The blending of old and new.

It's true that Japan's eccentric pop culture is world famous, but it's amazing to see how these new ideas have been integrated into ancient practices. This juxtaposition of ancient and recent makes for a unique experience -- one you're sure to miss once you've left the "Land of the Rising Sun."

16. Everything is "kawaii!!"

Who doesn't love cute things? So many aspects of modern Japanese culture are built around the love of cute things, from hobbies to clothing to advertisements. After being without if for a while, you start to realize how much you miss the overwhelming adorableness of Japan.

17. Plastic food replicas on display outside of restaurants.

Deciding what to order is a lot easier in Japan, where most restaurants feature real-life replicas of their food in display cases outside. Walking by, you can easily see what you would like to eat (it also helps if you are unable to read the menu).

18. Onigiri.

Japan is home to many yummy snacks, a special one being "onigiri," a rice ball or triangle often filled with fish and covered with seaweed. These little rice triangles can have a number of things inside of them like tuna and mayo, pickled plums, salmon raw or cooked, or fried rice. They are sure to be missed when they're no longer on every corner, in every convenient store.

19. Sushi-go-rounds.

A fun and delicious dining experience, sushi-go-rounds are restaurants with revolving conveyor belts that carry sushi to all of the tables. If something goes by that you like, you grab it, and prices are calculated by the number of total plates at the end. Once you've eaten here, eating sushi anywhere else feels incomplete.

20. Having vending machines with everything, everywhere.

Whether you're in the mood for hot tea, cold fruit-flavored water, crispy french fries or farm fresh eggs, there is a vending machine in Japan to satisfy your cravings. Around every corner, on the subway platforms, in the malls, and in the middle of nowhere, you get used to seeing vending machines of all kinds being conveniently nearby. You definitely start to miss them when you're out of Japan.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley Franklin

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To Every Father Figure In My Life, Thank You

You didn't have to be who you are, but I'm grateful.
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Another Father's Day has come and gone. To some of us, it's less of a celebration of thanks and more of a salt on an open wound type of deal.

You see, some of us don't have a biological father to celebrate on fathers day. My dad passed away when I was very little, some people were abandoned by their fathers, so on and so forth. But that doesn't mean we don't have a few positive male role models in our lives.

So I want to say thank you to my father figures.

When my dad was no longer around, so many people in this community and throughout my life stepped up to keep an eye on me. Thank you for teaching me what I deserve. Thank you for teaching me how to be the best I can be. Thank you for teaching me kindness and humility. Thank you for wiping the dirt off my face when I fell down. Thank you for giving me a man to look up to and a hero.

It is important for you to know that you didn't have to do all you did for me, but I am forever grateful for the support. I wouldn't be the person I am today, or have the dreams I do or the motivation to accomplish them without you.

Nobody could ever replace my dad, but your support and love can be held in just as high if not higher regard.

So thanks again, for doing what you didn't have to do; being a step dad, a grandpa, or just a family friend, thank you for being my father figure.

Cover Image Credit: Dalle Rutledge

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10 things i learned while visiting california

Here's a list of 10 things that I learned about myself and California while visiting there last week.

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I recently traveled to San Fransisco California for the first time, and it truly changed my life so much that I felt the need to write about it. This says a lot because I have also traveled to parts of Europe and Hawaii, and I didn't think it could get any better than that!

1. Alabama is too small for me.

I've always known that I wanted to move out of Alabama as soon as I could, but visiting California just showed me that there is a whole different lifestyle outside of these southern states.

2. There are just so many openminded people in one state.

I have blue hair. I am an openminded person. But I still get a few strange looks or comments like "your natural hair would look so much better" when I'm in my hometown. But in San Fransisco, I got at least 5 genuine compliments on my blue hair a day!

3. Speaking of blue hair, everyone has dyed hair!

When you have dyed hair and you meet someone else with crazy colored hair, you automatically bond with that person through your creativeness. I bonded with half of the state.

4. I Feel like San Fransisco has a place for everyone.

Whether it be China Town, Fishermans Wharf, Haight Ashbury, The Castro, or The Mission, there is most likely somewhere where you belong in San Fransisco alone. If you're like me it might just be at the dog park across the street from the Painted Ladies.

5. I think sea lions are even cuter than dogs. At least from a distance.

Don't get me wrong I'm a dog lover all the way, but I cried so hard at Pier 39 when I saw the tons and tons of sea lions being the good boys that they are. They are just big blubbery water dogs, and I love them.

6. I thought that the entire state would reek of marijuana but it, in fact, did not.

The only time I caught the slightest whiff was when we first turned on to Ashbury Sreet, which was honestly expected.

7. There weren't as many naked people as I was told to prepare for.

Maybe I just picked a good time of year. Maybe I just didn't notice the naked people. Who knows? Maybe the weather just wasn't the right temp for all of the streakers out there.

8. The souvenir shops were a lot cheaper than I had expected.

Everyone says that California is expensive, and they may be correct. BUT they obviously have NOT been talked into a sweet deal for sunglasses in China Town the way that I have. Three pairs of REALLY NICE sunglasses for $30.00? Wham bam thank you, Maam!

9. California does not care about my southern accent. At all.

Everywhere else that I have ever traveled, I have always had people freaking out over my accent. It was not brought up once while I was there.

10. Just one part of California is more eco-friendly than the whole state of Alabama.

They charge 10 cents a bag for the plastic bags we use when shopping, to get you to bring your own reusable bag. They have SO much more public transportation than we do. And almost every trash can is accompanied by a recycling bin. Alabama needs to step it up, just saying.

I love my home in Alabama, don't get me wrong. But I think and hope everyone gets the chance to explore new and different places like this. It was truly a blessing for me. I think all of the amazing things in the world are just a million times more amazing once you get out and see them for yourself. You would be amazed at the world that's out there waiting for you.


Cover Image Credit:

Kayla McGuff

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