Welcome to the fascinating world of Japan where modern technology meets ancient traditions. You’ve got everything from bum washing toilets to trains as fast as bullets, Geisha tea ceremonies to buzzing nightclubs. Here are 3 reasons why you definitely need to make Japan next up on your bucketlist!
1.Food & Drink
Japanese cuisine is one of the most unique in the world. They invented sushi for goodness sake! But it’s not all about the sushi, here are a few tasty treats to stick your chopsticks into: Yakitori is a dish made up of skewered chicken marinated in sweet salt or soy sauce and cooked on a BBQ, Okonomiyaki a savoury pancake filled with your ingredient of choice -it’s basically Japanese pizza! Tonkatsu 豚カツ (think Katsu curry) is based on a western dish of pork cutlets dipped in breadcrumbs and deep fried – YUM!
Bet when in Japan you have to dine on some mystery fried street food, you literally never know what you’re going to get… fried octopus balls or delicious Japanese dumplings – the choice is yours! Wash everything down with a Chu Hai (fizzy fruit drink), Umeshu (fruit liqueur) or a Nama draft beer like Asahi Super Dry, you’ll find most drinks are about £2-£4. Of course, try an “all you can eat” sushi restaurant or tabehoudai see if you can eat as much sushi as humanly possible – about 3,888 yen (£30) for men and 3,240 yen (£25) for women! Did you know that it takes 3 years to learn how to cook sushi rice properly? Yes, 3 whole years.
Toilets that wash your bum and trains as fast as bullets, welcome to the wonderful technological world of Japan. Japan has always been a leading innovator in technology, inventing canned coffee, instant noodles, karaoke, the Walkman and SO much more. Today there are taxis with doors which open themselves, vacuums that operate without humans and robots EVERYWHERE – seriously, you need to see it to believe it.
So we mentioned bum washing toilets aka the washlet or ウォシュレット pronounced washuretto, here’s a little more detail about it… not too much mind! If you’re travelling around Japan you’re highly likely to come in contact with one of these magical contraptions, bathroom washlets are pretty much everywhere except public toilets. There are both Japanese and English labels to prevent any confusion during the process and you’ll come out feeling as clean as a whistle – only in Japan!
Let’s step away from bathroom antics and onto the bullet train. The bullet train or Shinkansen dates back to the 1930s when the idea was originally thought up, but the trains have been operating since 1964. Since then the Shikansen has transported over 5.6 billion passengers between Tokyo and Osaka reaching speeds of up to 300km/h. If you’re travelling around Japan the bullet train is the only way to go! Save some money and effort by getting a Japan Rail Pass ideal for backpackers wanting to see as much of the country as possible. They are cheaper than buying point to point tickets and you can be completely flexible with 7, 14 or 21 day rail passes allowing unlimited travel. These are exclusive for tourists so you can’t get one when you’re there, buy it beforehand!
The nightlife in Japan really is like nowhere else in the world, from quirky bars decorated with trolls to traditional tea ceremonies… you just never know what you’re going to get!
If you’re in Tokyo head to Shinjuku 新宿, the Golden Gai district for a break away from neon lights and for a more authentic feel. You’ll find small, down-to-earth, buzzing bars that can hold anything from 5 to 30 people. Each bar has its own quirk, whether it’s the crazy decor with walls covered in troll toys or unique signature drinks or all-night karaoke, you’re sure to find something you like! Head to Champion for a night of karaoke just be warned the singing may be enough to put you off your drinks or check out the Albatross, spend the evening on the rooftop bar soaking up panoramic views of Tokyo’s skyline.
Gion district in Kyoto 京都 is the renowned Geisha district, jam packed with interesting bars and restaurants it’s the perfect spot for a chilled night out. The Ochaya (teahouses) are where Geishas perform the tea ceremonies to entertain the tourists – these can be a very expensive, but the more you pay the more authentic the ceremony – but not so sure you really fancy paying £100 for a cup of tea? Anyway, fancy something a bit more upbeat? Head to Club Metro for a friendly underground disco held in an abandoned metro station, whatever your tune they’ll play it! Expect to hear something from international and local DJs and be prepared to dance the night away.
Check out the Dōtonbori 道頓堀 area in Osaka, for some of the most crazy bars and clubs! You’ll be dancing into the early hoursn of the morning and you’re guaranteed a party every night of the week held at the different venues. If you like your EDM music then it’s all about Giraffe with two massive floors of pure dance. Just to let you know it’s worth taking out cash as most bars and clubs don’t accept card, 10,000 yen roughly 70 quid will ensure you a wicked night out!