Japan, also known as, The Land of the Rising Sun, is a destination that I will never forget. This trip took place the summer of 2007 and started in San Francisco, CA. I was accompanied by my father, stepmother, brother and sisters. Originally, the trip was supposed to be for the summer, until my father, an active duty member of the USAF, got orders to stay. I am a person that appreciates different cultures and languages, and was ecstatic about the opportunity that had just been thrown at my feet. Japan is a country that everyone, at least in my opinion, should get to visit once in their life. Some of the most memorable things about Japan were the food, how the Japanese treat the environment, and how the locals appreciate how hard the American people try to learn their culture.
Japanese food is very different than what we have in the United States. Traditional Japanese meals consist or three main courses plus rice. The meal is typically served with a small plate of ginger to cleanse your pallet after each course, enabling you to get the full flavor of each item. A lot of Japan’s culture can be experienced through their food, as most of the food eaten now is from recipes that have been passed down through the decades. One of the hardest parts about Japanese food is the difference in texture, and the unusual items served. One day my family and I attended a barbeque put together by my father’s co-workers and they fed me a dish of fried squid. Although I didn’t know what I had eaten, I enjoyed it; until I was told what it was. Due to preconceived thoughts or ideas, I no longer liked the meal. The thing that impressed me the most with regards to food was the fact the people of Japan only take what they need, for the purpose of keeping nature in balance as best they can.
Japan is a country that tries to keep their carbon footprint to a minimum. It may not seem like that from an outside perspective, especially if all you know is Tokyo or what you see in the movies. However, most people in Japan only own one car and try to ride their bikes whenever possible. Japan is a country who realizes how important it is to recycle; while I was there I did not see a single piece of trash on the ground. In the local stores and malls, they have separate recycle bins just like we do, and everyone participates. Most families have their own vegetable garden so they don’t have to destroy as much land for farms. Japanese people are the most environmentally conscious people I have seen, and believe we should adopt some of their values or respect for our environment.
The most difficult but most rewarding part about being in Japan was understanding and following their culture. Culture is an extremely important part of Japanese life. They have two religions: Buddhist and Shinto. Buddhists pray to a god and Shinto pray to a shrine. An event taken very seriously in the Japanese culture is when young family members go and clean the family grave. This takes place only once per year. A few nuances with regard to culture include not blowing on food to lower the temperature, as it signifies you do not like the smell, thus insulting the chef. Another food custom is to never stick your chopsticks in your food as it is believed you are wishing death upon the shop owner.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.