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Japan … AGAIN?!?!

That’s what they yell in unison every time I mention to friends and family my vacation plans! Why, aren’t you bored, do you have another family there… seriously what’s the appeal after a baker’s dozen visits?

 

My inaugural visit just to Tokyo overloaded all my senses - jaw dropping architecture, food binges galore, orderly crowdedness, technological oddities, oh those TV game shows… all coupled with jet lag and language sodukus. Looking back at my initial photo memories I realized I missed new places and things during the whirlwind tour of trying to check off all the recommended ‘must do/visit/haves’. My second trip was now essential, plus I still had my handy Suica card! After mastering a couple subway/rail routes and shopping/ordering etiquettes, I needed to expand my comfort zone, time to explore the neighbouring suburbs and get lost!

 

I find Japan very safe. Maybe because I believe the citizens are always bound by duty to help but more that they are generally and genuinely nice people and customer service unmatched! I stopped using travel advice, guides and blogs, instead got lost on purpose - YES get off at random subway stops, day trips to unfamiliar suburbs evolved further to western cities and regions …

 

Toys, electronics, gadgets, stationery, fashion,… whatever you want to buy Japan has it in abundance with their own cultural spin and uniqueness. I only wanted to see what’s new and trending, at first. Every subsequent trip included new hobbies, stores, restaurants, vending machines to explore… now walking down a street meant entering almost every retail space - the stranger the better! My advice, don’t forget you Costco membership if you have a car rental. Japanese second hand and vintage resellers entered my scope by trip number 4 and 5, I needed to find that grail piece to complete my collection or start a new one. Curiosity emptied my wallet and filled my suitcase (next trip I need to bring/nest another empty suitcase… wait why don’t I just buy one locally?)

 

One hundred yen stores - or what some of my traveling companions nicknamed one hundred minute stores. I could not miss a shelf or aisle, this eye candy was mesmerizing! I always wanted a delectable snack, another yuzu infused drink, a new pen, another shopping tote coz it’s mid-morning and there’s no turning back to the hotel to offload. Out of the ordinary Japanese souvenirs were now easily found for 100 yen I couldn’t bring back similar gifts from my first 5 trips…

 

KitKat connoisseurs abound in Japan, every region seems to have their own exclusive flavour, similar to Pokémon I HAD TO FIND THEM ALL! Sensei instructed me to return to land of the rising sun and don’t miss any convenience stores in the western region. Japanese immigration asked for the purpose of my 6th/7th visit… I quickly answered how much cacao ground could I cover by bullet train? Fret not, you will always find a KitKat variety rack at every Japanese airport - I always need another break…

 

Yellowtail, I won’t eat it anywhere but in Japan. Local Japanese seafood is so fresh and delicious that my taste buds have been brainwashed to only accept authentic sashimi/sushi… and then tonkatsu and tempura… unagi… yakitori… there really are no gastronomical substitutes anymore so I had to book another flight on ANA/JAL…

 

Onsen in Hakone led to another in Beppu… That all-you-can-soak therapeutic water, mountain side scenery, extravagant meals and home style service… how can I stop this R&R addiction! I even found hidden local Tokyo establishments when time constraints prevented me from escaping the city…

 

After 13 memorable adventures, everyone now understand why I repeatedly go to Japan … it’s my second home!
 

 

Written by P. W. 

The opinions expressed in the above article do not reflect the views of JNTO. All content and images are property of the writer unless otherwise specified.

 

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