Japan is one of those countries that you constantly hear about but always want to visit. This is definitely something I’ve always wanted to do for my entire life. The Japanese culture has always fascinated me, probably because of the fact that their lifestyle is so much different from my own. I’ve lived in the United States my entire life and apart from traveling within my own country, never really knew what it was like to travel overseas. When a group of my friends asked me if I wanted to join them on a trip to Japan to check out the area, I was all too eager to take them up on their offer.
Starting the Trip
Let’s face it, I’m a young woman on an incredibly fixed budget. I work a part-time job in the states and don’t have much to spend on frivolous things. The cost of going to Japan was a bit daunting to me, just because I was afraid it would be a little too expensive. My friends, who all pretty much have similar jobs as I do, told me that traveling by economy would be a lot cheaper and even a little more fun. The idea of going to another country without paying an arm and a leg really fascinated me, so I decided that it’d be a good choice to make.
The trip to Japan was definitely a long one and flying economy-style was a little cramped, but nothing I wasn’t already used to from flying around the states. When we arrived in Tokyo, I was absolutely amazed at the hustle and bustle all around me. I had never been in such a crowded airport in my entire life. There were people of all ethnicities there, and it was pretty amazing to just watch people coming and going to get on a flight or receive their luggage.
After getting over the fact that the airport was one of the most crowded I’d ever been in, me and my friends decided to start looking for baggage claim. We had to wait awhile for our bags to come out, but they eventually did and we were able to get them and leave the airport. Right outside of the airport, you could tell you were in an enormous city. We arrived in the nighttime, so the lights outside were so bright that it almost looked like it was the day. I had never seen this type of thing before in my life, even with all of my traveling in the states.
My friends and I chose to then catch the bullet train to an area in Tokyo that has lots of hostels, hotels and restaurants to try. We aimed to get settled in for the night after having such a long trip, and having so many options open to us was a bit confusing as first but very welcoming. The bullet train was a whole lot of fun, and it was weird to see that many people on the train at such a late hour.
When we finally got off of the train, my friends and I walked around for a bit to see which restaurants and hostels were in the area. Almost all of the signs we were reading were in Japanese, but they also had signs in English for us which made it very easy to know where we were going. The good thing is that most people in the area speak English as well as Japanese, so we asked a few people about different things and received pretty decent answers to help us along the way.
Getting Some Food
There were so many different restaurants in the area that we didn’t really know what to get. We stopped into a very small restaurant that had a bar area and a couple of tables. It apparently stayed open all the time, so we didn’t have to worry that it was late and would be closing any time soon. My friends and I sat down and were finally able to really relax and get familiar with our surroundings. The waiter came over to the table and was incredibly nice. His English was a bit choppy, but we were able to understand him and he understood us pretty well as well.
I didn’t really know what to order so asked the waiter what he suggested. He told me about a soup bowl that they made that was really good. Warm soup sounded pretty good right then, so that’s what I got. When he brought the soup back to the table for us all, I noticed that it was actually lots of noodles and veggies in plain hot water. This wasn’t the soupy broth I was necessarily used to, but it was incredibly delicious and filling. I am so used to eating soups with thick or salty broths, and having a soup with just hot boiling water was a definite change.
Settling in for the Night
After our meals, we were on our way to a local hostel to unwind for the night and start fresh the next day. There were tons of hotels and hostels in the area, so we had a hard time choosing which one was right for us. The one hostel we chose wound up being the one we stayed in for our week-long vacation in Japan. The hostel itself was pretty clean and we were all able to share a room together without anyone sharing it with us. The only downfall was that there was a shared bathroom in the hostel, and this is something I have never been used to before in my entire life.
All-in-all, my trip to Japan was a true success. That week there, I got to try a ton of different foods and we did a lot of shopping and backpacking tours. I would definitely go back there again if I had the chance, and it makes me wonder about visiting some other areas overseas that I’ve always been interested in going to.
Bio: Natalya Pobedova is a travelling nomad and backpacker from beautiful Brno Czech Republic. She is 27 and makes a living as a freelance web developer to support her traveling needs. She also runs a budget flight search website for backpackers as a hobby: http://www.