Saturday, December 30, 2017

Japan practicalities

Japan is clean, civilized, and safe, making it ideal for the solo female traveler. The language is less of an impediment than you'd expect — a lot of signs are in English, and you don't need Japanese to get the food you want thanks to food models and picture menus, which aren't exclusive to tourist restaurants but are widely used everywhere. Google maps will keep you from getting lost — the location feature doesn't need wi-fi or data to show you where you are on the map. All in all, it's one of the easiest places on earth to visit, and among the most pleasant. It probably won't shake up your values or change your life, but it's a fun place to explore nonetheless. Train service is excellent, and any trip to Japan has to include a ride on the Shinkansen — I'd recommend paying extra for the super-fast Tokkaido, which is currently the world's fastest train in regular operation. It's simply a magnificent way to get around, and it will make you wish we had rapid rail service in the United States. Contrary to expectations, Japan can be an inexpensive place to visit. It's easy to find cheap but clean and convenient lodging, and even food can be cheaper than in major US cities. I probably ate more ramen than I should have, but I eat a lot of it at home, too. At about $5 a bowl, it's hard to beat. And when you're on the go, convenience stores like 7-11 and Lawson Station have a lot of good, fresh food available on the cheap. I never felt like I got enough vegetables, however — I came home craving leafy greens, which aren't abundant in the Japanese diet.

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