My Time In Japan
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My Time In Japan

A taste of a different culture.

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My Time In Japan
CNN Travel

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Japan! It was a complete surprise, but we all decided to visit in June. As you can imagine, I was beyond excited! I've been wanting to visit Japan ever since I was a kid, so it almost felt surreal that I finally got to go!

We visited mainly Tokyo, then Kyoto, and Osaka. We rode on the bullet train, visited many shrines, witnessed a green tea ceremony, did lots of shopping and of course ate delicious Japanese food!

Along the way, I learned a lot about Japan, its culture and the Japanese people. Japan is extremely clean, there is almost no trash in sight on the streets, stores, etc. However, something odd I noticed was that there were almost no trash cans around the streets.

Another pleasant surprise was how easy it was to find vegetarian food. When my family and I did our research, we were very worried that there wouldn't be any vegetarian options for us. But luckily, rice is a huge staple in Japan, so that definitely helped a lot. We could eat onigiris, soba noodles, rice balls and of course many desserts! Japan has really interesting flavors of food, so I got to try food like red bean ice cream and melon flavored bread. There was some western influence as well, so there were sandwiches available. I even got to try natto, which is fermented soybean. Needless to say, it's an acquired taste, but I enjoyed it! The flavor triumphs the texture.

Believe it or not, almost every street we encountered in Tokyo had a 7-11. They would have drinks and wrapped meals in the back of the store that we would pick up every morning. Family mart was also a very popular supermarket there.

We also visited the Senso-ji temple, which was absolutely gorgeous! It's Tokyo's oldest temple, and it was built around Buddhism. It's a huge red temple with incense outside that's said to heal physical illnesses when waved around the affected bodily region. There was a small shopping center on Nakamise street nearby with many small stores clumped together that sold trinkets and souvenirs. We shopped in the Ginza district as well, which was completely different since it was a higher end shopping area with brand names. We visited Harajuku and Dottonbori which were also major shopping areas. Harajuku is also know in America; there is even a line of dolls names after them. Dottonbori specializes in street food, so there were people everywhere eating various forms of Japanese street food.

Everyone in Japan was extremely friendly! Bowing after speaking was seen as a sign of respect in some instances. So people working at hotels, restaurants, and stores would often bow after responding.

Riding the bullet train was very interesting. Traveling from Tokyo to Osaka was so much faster through the bullet train. It's similar to the Metro in America, but the stations there had lots of food and souvenir stores inside; whereas eating is prohibited on the Metro.

We also went into an authentic green tea house and were able to watch pure green tea being prepared. The end result was fairly bitter, but it's extremely healthy! We were also able to walk through a bamboo forest, with bamboo stalks easily reaching the height of buildings!

Overall, my experience in Japan was so wonderful that I'm looking for opportunities to study abroad there or maybe even land a job in the future. If not, I hope to get the opportunity to at least visit again!

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