No, this is not a lesson in Japanese cultural values and how much better of an image they create than that of America. Yes, this is a shameless plug of how amazing Japan is as a tourist. And this list only scratches the surface of its greatness.

1. It’s. So. Dang. Clean.

As you will soon learn, Japanese people value tidiness and presentation a heck of a lot more than Americans do. As a result, room corners are never covered in dust, a piece of trash on the curb is a hard find, and those black spots on the sidewalk are minimal.

2. Public transportation goals.

Everything arrives right on the dot. No trash anywhere. The stations may be jam-packed, but the train attendants will find a way to get you on board. As for bullet trains, the fastest mode of transportation in Japan…just picture the weightlessness and lack of friction of a modern Back to the Future hoverboard.

3. The food.

For someone as obsessed with Japanese cuisine as me, the food here will make you cry (speaking from experience). But really, everyone who enjoys freshly prepared, aesthetically presented anything edible will appreciate the sidewalk kiosks, restaurants, supermarkets, and department store food courts.

4. Hole in the wall stores.

I’m talking about the stores you accidentally stumble into because Google Maps let you down for once. Now this is where the best finds happen: high-quality mechanical pencils, cute stationery, good luck charms, wooden block carvings, the list goes on.

5. Religious culture.

Even if you only get to see the more touristy side of religion, the architecture of the temples and shrines is fascinating, and you're encouraged to partake in traditional religious practices. For crying out loud, Kinkaku-ji is a temple coated with gold leaf. Not to mention you can find the largest bronze statue of Buddha in Nara.

6. People-watching.

From the clean-cut businessmen who have mastered the art of power walking to the cosplay characters who roam the city streets of Tokyo, it’s a truly entertaining experience to witness the personality diversity of Japan.

7. Vending machines.

This picture says everything. Vending machines for anything you can think of: cigarettes, only alcoholic beverages, ramen, even clothes.

8. Cherry blossom viewing.

The fact that there is a huge festival in the spring held in its honor says it all. There are many parks dedicated mainly to their cherry blossom trees, which can also be found planted around palaces and temples. It’s impossible to go wrong with beautiful nature in Japan.

9. Japanese onsen.

These are Japanese hot springs made into a bath house and inn, and either a traditional or modern one will promise you a grand experience. You’re dressed in traditional Japanese clothes. You can explore a number of different therapies, from full body massages to tiny fish eating the dead skin off your feet. And did I mention the food-court-on-steroids level meal options within the onsen?

10. Talking, technology-infused toilets.

This isn’t some VIP-only phenomenon, these can be found even in the most ghetto of hotels. Some give you the option to play music and drown out those awkward sounds of #1 and #2, most are seat warmers, and all of them have the ability to efficiently control tiny jets or sprays of water to ensure a clean butt.

11. And finally, the deal-sealer: price is rarely an issue.


Even taking into account the fluctuating conversion rate from dollar to yen, unless you’re eating at a Michelin star restaurant or road-tripping on the fastest level of bullet train, practically everything in Japan is cheaper than to its American equivalent.