Traveling alone in Japan

Traveling alone in Japan

Japan! An exotic land that brings to mind Geishas, ​​sake, sauces and Maoist temples, a culture profoundly different from ours in which technology mixes with ancient traditions and the alphabet is transformed into ideograms. Traveling alone in Japan like every place in the world we will be faced with ever new experiences and circumstances, with different emotions and which will show us new limits of our personality which clashes with significant cultural differences, but above all here there are barriers to overcome, more than in others places. This country can be very enigmatic for a solo traveler!

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Traveling alone in Japan

Limitations and opportunities of traveling alone in Japan

Il Japan it is a wonderful country, it boasts sensational nature and a tradition and history as important as it is distant from ours, but if you choose to undertake this journey alone you must be aware of the limits and opportunities of this journey.

  • The tongue! Obviously, as everyone knows, Japanese is very difficult, unpronounceable for us and has an alphabet of ideograms, this means that often street signs or even worse restaurant menus are practically illegible! How to solve? As for restaurants, obviously I’m referring to the traditional ones without photos, I recommend choose randomly, monitoring the waiter’s facial expressions or seeing into other people’s dishes. For directions in Japanese, just don’t despair, walk a little further hoping to find a sign in Latin characters.
  • The natives are not able to give road information!It seems absurd, but not even a traffic policeman can tell you where you are and which road you have to take to reach your destination! It happened to me Tokyo at the exit of the subway, I spent 30 minutes walking around in circles asking policemen and shop owners where we were and how I could find my hotel, only to then discover that it was located next to the subway
    To resolve this sense of helplessness we must study the maps carefully before going outmaybe compare Google maps or follow the itineraries on your phone, don’t despair, they will all be very kind, but no one will know what directions to give you.
  • The Japanese are very kind, infinitely mannerist and courteous, they are willing to spend half an hour trying to explain something to you that you won’t understand, but for sure It’s not easy to make friends, in fact I would say almost impossible, they are exaggeratedly reserved and respectful, they have a use of proxemics that is diametrically opposed to us Italians, they will hardly look you in the eye, let alone if they will ever speak to you. This is why you need to be prepared for the fact that you may spend a lot of time alone, reflecting on the “zen” meaning of your future; a valid alternative is to stay in the few hostels or in the riokan and trying to find expat communities on the web won’t be much insider but this is also a Japanese reality, especially in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
  • I prices. It is known that Japan is an expensive destination, but if you follow some precautions it will not be more expensive than any Northern European capital. Always try to sleep in in Rio (small family-run inns), the Japanese restaurants in Japan are not expensive! Always take the set menu including sushi and sashimi and you will stay within €15, then if like me you prefer small local restaurants you will eat delicious soups for really low prices.
  • I transport I’m the pride of the country, I Shinkase the super fast train has truly prohibitive costs, Tokyo -Kyoto costs around €250! However, if you intend to travel many kilometers and in more than one route, there is the Japan Rail Pass which is very beneficial. The thing that I thought was really expensive was urban transport, a bus ticket in Kyoto costs around €3 so either start walking faster or get a points card which will allow you to have more entries and save money. The Tokyo subway is the most incomprehensible thing I’ve ever seen, ticket prices change depending on the destination, like in many other cities, but it won’t be very easy to interpret the sign and above all get out of the subway! Each metro stop has about 5-6 exits all very far from each other which means that you will walk a lot underground and that you will have to be very sure of the exit otherwise you risk never finding your destination.

Now we come to what in my opinion is the greatest added value of traveling to Japan alone:

  • It is the perfect destination if you need to reflect on important issues in your life, if you are facing a period of change; there are many naturalistic treks, and unlike what happens in the rest of the world, there they will all be interspersed with deeply spiritual temples.
    I found it magnificent Valley of the Temples in Kyotoan easy, sunny walk under centuries-old cherry trees, following the course of a quiet river and with an astonishing amount of wonderful Shinto templesneedless to say the power that sitting and observing a Zen garden while the sun changes the illumination of the gravel can have.

During my trip I tried to understand as much as possible the Shinto religion and Zen philosophy, perhaps without great results, but one thing is certain, this country gave me a strong calm and the serenity I was looking for.

two women in purple and pink kimono standing on street

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