Perhaps, you have been wanting to visit Japan and explore its unique culture for some time?
Your curiosity is well understood because the country is absolutely a foreign place to experience as an outsider. With its territorial size of about 378,000 square kilometers and the number of islands counting about 7000, there are plenty of places to go. So, where to begin?
Hokkaido, Honshū, Shikoku, or Kyūshū for the first time visiting Japan?
To that, my answer will be Honshū—the largest island of Japan and the 7th largest island in the world. Due to its geographical size and a wide variety of events, Honshu has adventures for everyone to make memories of.
If that will be wandering around the historical sites of Kyoto, enjoying the craziness of vibrant cities like Tokyo and Osaka, hiking for extraordinary views of Fuji-san, skiing/snowboarding in fresh powder in Nagano, or going to the rural areas to get a taste of many of the hidden gems. No matter your decision of adventure, Honshu simply has it all! Well, except for the coral blue ocean of Okinawa and its dazzling white beaches, but that's to explore another beautiful time of yours.
Why coming to Japan?
Now, I would love to share some stories and experiences of when I came to Japan for the first time as a pure foreigner with fresh eyes on everything.
Where did it all begin, and why? Let's discuss the latter of why first because it's a super important question. After all, you will most likely be asked "why coming to Japan" when you meet the Japanese people and other travelers on your arrival. At the airport, where you also will need to document your reasoning, a most common answer could be something along the lines of tourism, work, or studying.
To reply to a more deep question of why, it was, for me back then, a whole lot harder to come up with than to the answer given to the officials working at the immigration. I could simply not repeat the entry reasoning given at the Narita International Airport. You see, I came on a working holiday visa when I was in my early 20s, so already then, I was left with a 50/50 scenario to cover. Plus, I had absolutely not planned anything in advance of arriving. The reality was simple. I had landed in Tokyo on a one-way ticket feeling the excitement of having a 1-year visa in my passport. And, the sad truth that I only had mastered Konnichiwa and Arigatou beforehand. Which, of course, was pronounced with an ideal gaikokujin (foreign person) accent.
It's good to be curious in Japan
Nevertheless, I think my curiosity and open-minded nature gave me so much in terms of all the adventures that followed. Now, many years later, I can better answer why I went to Japan: A mixture of wanting to learn about people from far away cultures, a desire to challenge myself to reflect on life, and certainly a whole lot of destiny. At the time being, had I only been able to convey that, my introduction of why coming to Japan would have been a lot easier! Or, perhaps the opposite...
So, be prepared, or at least start to think of why you are visiting or interested in Japan. After all, you will be amazed at how curious people are to learn about you and the background you have. This kind of shared opportunity to talk about differences and similarities is fantastic and is perhaps, why I really love the Japanese people. They are curious about learning from the outside, making it such a fun place to visit as s foreigner.
Ready for a trip to Japan?
I hope this post has inspired you and hopefully will take you a step closer to being interested in Japan, the people, and the cultural events that are waiting to be explored.
Whether you would be going to Honshū, Hokkaido, Shikoku, or Kyūshū, I'm confident that your trip will be nothing but spectacular. If only you arrive with the right mindset to broaden your perspectives of life, naturally interact with the people with respect, and accept the beauty of differences and similarities, you will have a guaranteed time of your life.