What TRAVELLERS should know about Japan and its people

IRONIC as it may sound, I have never tried sharing my travel experiences with the world- not even with my family except with those that I happened to mingle with- who themselves have had the chance to visit the same places I did.

TO MENTION some of the places I have been to are: Japan, Australia, Singapore, Bangkok-Thailand, Venice, Florence, Malaysia, Indonesia, Beijing, Hongkong, Taipei, Palau, Hawaii, and more or less 20 states in America.

My story would start with the first country I have had the chance to land on. And, that country is Japan. Yes, and I lived there for many years.

THOSE who have not been to Europe or Australia, will get surprised to find that the cars in Japan are all right-hand drive and run on the opposite lane (left side). For whatever reason they designed their cars that way, I really do not know. I hope you do.

NEXT THING I observed was that- although not all, most of the old Japanese houses I happened to step into, were designed reversed too! Upon entering the main door, you'll be surprised to find yourself not in the living room but in the kitchen, then the living room comes next and on the farthest end- the bedroom/s.

HAVING KNOWN Japan as among those modern powerful countries in the field of economics and trade, I was looking forward to finding fancy spacious apartments for rent when I get there. But when I finally did, I had to let out long sighs because the prices they offered for those very small apartments were unbelievably expensive! And, maybe it was because all I did was convert, compute and compare the prices in Japan with that of what they would usually charge for an even bigger rental apartments back in my country. If most middle income-earning Americans who go there find everything painfully dear, I found it sinfully expensive!

Later, I gradually learned how to live and survive in Japan. No maids, unless you are well off to afford the services of girl-Fridays. Basically, the prices of food in Japan are affordable to those who are yen earners but would forever be very expensive to those who are not.

Strict, Disciplined, Law abiding citizens, Honest, Workaholics, Cordial... is how I would describe the Japanese people.... Keep on reading what I've written here and by the time you are done, you will feel quite geared up to survive Japan yourselves! One thing though, if you are visiting Japan simply as a tourist- DON'T FORGET TO BRING your major credit cards, lots of cash, and a hundred and one pieces of travelers' checks. You know what I mean!

The experience that I gained from this country molded me well. In fact, it changed my outlook in life to an intensity more than I could ever imagine. My old self now far left out in the past, and the new me to the next level. Being a keen observer myself, I know that I now have the right materials to be able to share with all those who are interested to know just a little bit more about this country and its people.

I need not do extensive research or burn eyebrows to learn all these because, it all came to me in bits and pieces during my one and a half decades of living daylights in that country. That country fed me really well physically, intellectually, and emotionally,

NEVER MIND about seriously learning how to speak their language or their complicated writings because these people are really good in reading actions. They refer to it as "feeling"

IF YOU PLAN TO VISIT JAPAN in the near future here are some of the IMPORTANT things THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Please note that what I am going to share with you are not just positive but... turn offs as well..

1.) JAPANESE are actually, very kind people. CONTRARY to what my first impression of them was ( blame it on the World War 2 recollection of the olds). And, having made JAPAN my 2nd home for more that 14 years, a realization dawned on me- Japanese are very nice, accommodating, and cordial people after all.

2) YES, they are very busy people and of few words but once they give their promise to anyone, they will not stop until it's kept... whatever it takes. Rain or
shine. Come hell or high waters.

3) THEY are literally very HONEST people. Aside from their being among the experts in technology and business trade, I guess their unrivaled HONESTY is among the best characteristics that they posses and take pride in. Be it a purse containing valuables, a million or a dime you can rest assured that once you remembered where you left it, you will find whatever it is that you may have left behind- intact and untouched. Now, that's real honesty and trustworthiness! BUT it would be for your own good to always stay alert and extra careful in looking after your belongings well- as not all those pairs of legs walking in Japan are locals. (Since this country opened its ports to international trade and dealings, they have allowed entry to many foreign workers and visitors.)

4.) The respect you get from them is always based on what you gave them first. To make the long story short, just recall the ever famous "golden rule".

5.) There is absolutely no tipping in Japan. The Japanese has never given way to tipping practice. Places where tip giving is kind of- expected are only in those drinking bars and night clubs who have foreign employees working as entertainers otherwise, if you leave appreciation tips in restaurants you visit, do not be surprised if someone runs after you panting while saying, " Excuse meeee? you forgot your change! (money)" and even if you insist for them to take the tip, which you intentionally left left on the table, in the end you will still find your money returned to you. So please? do not give them additional work load-
of running after you every time you leave tip money on the table- as they are already busy enough with their respective job assignments. Okey? A simple and neat vow would be more than enough to appreciate the good services they've done you.

6) Japanese are not discriminatory people. They take pride in all of their honest undertakings but they are never discriminating people. If they act indifferently at times , it is maybe because their minds are preoccupied about something. And, if they show aloofness, it is certain that they have acceptable reasons enough to act so. Reasons such as:

a) You and your fellow foreign companion/s are talking load (inside the train)amidst those silent and well behaved Japanese locals around you.
b) You did not turn you phone off or set it in a silent mode before boarding the train and it rang loudly.
c) You did not remove your shoes when you enter a room where it is a "must" for you to leave them outside the door.
d) (in a restaurant) you drank the drinks offered to you by your host before they made the ceremonial kampai- wherein they are expected to be the one to drink first as the are after all the host/hostess.
e) You overdressed and accessorized yourself with all those inappropriate bling-blings when it is proper to dress very simply.

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