5 Reasons to Visit Japan in your 20's
- In: Sightseeing and Experiences
- Tags: anime,kawaii,millennials
Being in your twenties is a time of newfound independence, growing maturity and wanderlust. We dream of interesting and memorable travel experiences before finally settling into “adult life”. Many of us will plan a trip to Europe, or a road trip across the United States, or backpacking through Asia. For me, my dream was to visit Japan. For years, I've been fascinated by the otaku (geek) culture and Japanese pop music. Three days after my final undergraduate exam, I was off to the Empire of the Rising Sun.
My trip to Japan was a remarkable and enjoyable experience. At an age between joining the "real world" and wanting to be a kid again, visiting Japan is a great way to bridge these stages in your life. Japan has a multi-faceted, layered culture that will appeal to both the child and adult within you. Here is why visiting Japan in your twenties is a must:
1. Childhood Nostalgia
Revisit Your Love of All Things Sega -- Photo from Flickr cc by Erica Rivera
For many youth growing up in the Western world, Japanese artistic media and electronic influences were perhaps unknowingly present in our daily lives. Childhood memories of watching animated series such as Pokemon and Digimon, having a Tamagotchi pet and, of course, the beloved emergence of Sega, Nintendo and Gameboy marked and changed the lives of us '90s kids. A visit to Japan will be a nostalgic trip as many of these influences still have a strong visible presence. I dare you to go to Japan and not find something reminiscent of your childhood that will make you smile. A trip to the motherland of kid's entertainment is a great way to bid farewell to your childhood.
2. “Kawaii” Culture
Japan is the World's Mecca of All Things Cute and Adorable -- Photo from Flickr cc by Brett
Think of anything cute you have ever seen. Well, Japan finds a way to make it more kawaii. Be it school uniforms, advertisements, store awnings, goods and services, everything is so darn cute. Japanese adults have seemingly accepted, embraced and even indulged in the cute aspect of their culture, and I willingly did the same. I found it all too easy to fall victim to a spending spree. You can find yourself with the cutest items that you don’t really need. I came home with a dozen packs of animal print post-its and Sailor Moon makeup. I’m in my twenties and have yet to outgrow the cuteness. I expect many of you are similar.
3. Perfect Blend of Modern and Traditional
Be Sure to Seek Out Peaceful Temples -- Photo by Jacques LeBon Stevenson
I was most blown away by the religious respect that the Japanese people and government have towards the many shrines and temples interspersed within Japan's major hubs. While a large part of modern Japanese culture today revolves around consumerism, the Japanese make strong efforts to protect and promote their traditional cultural heritage. While visiting Japan, you will easily immerse yourself in both aspects and find a perfect balance between temple visits and other interesting activities. I can't think of any other city that has several arcades within walking distance to holy grounds. A day in Japan can bring you to the busiest, frantic intersections and also to the serene grounds of a temple. Such experiences in your twenties will enrich your soul and help shape your perspective of a world that is so much bigger than you.
4. Visit Japan for Manga and Anime
Cosplay Culture is Common in Japan -- Photo from Flickr cc by running3000
A lot of young people are attracted to visiting Japan because of an interest in manga and anime. Some people are otaku (super fans) for a short while, others are otaku for life. Idyllic scenes you often see in your favorite shows or manga, including late night visits to the convenience stores, rides on the city trains or the shinkansen, walks along flower-encrusted roads become a reality when you visit Japan. A visitor can be equally inspired by these simple daily activities and visiting the temples, natural landscapes and impressive buildings on offer. Apart following in the footsteps of some of your favorite characters, being in Japan makes it easy to indulge in and consume anime and manga. Many anime areas like Ikebukuro in Tokyo are otaku central, but you can see influences in other cities as well. Cosplay outfits, figurines, manga novels and other awesome anime goods are all more abundant and cheaper to purchase in Japan.
5. Experiences Unique to Japan
Fran Experiencing Shinjuku's World-famous Robot Restaurant -- Photo by Jacques LeBon Stevenson
Your twenties are also proclaimed as a period of self-discovery, and in a country that promotes everything that is cute, unique, weird and different, it will be fairly easy to find your niche and something that caters to your specific tastes. For that "Only in Japan" moment, you can visit anime-themed cafes, maid cafes, and animal cafes. If cafes are not for you, the Robot Restaurant Show boasts a life-changing experience for many. Sing yourself hoarse with a few hours of karaoke, visit a pachinko parlour for some confusion and excitement, or laugh at the caricatured purikura photo booth pictures you can take. Some of these experiences are almost ridiculous, but you're still at an age where you can easily laugh it off and get away with it. You can drink the night away in a traditional Japanese izakaya (pub) with locals or visit the various trendy bars and clubs (the legal drinking age in Japan is 20 years old). I found myself at a Japanese German beer festival, which was an unexpected and wonderfully odd surprise. I also signed up for the Tokyo Pub Crawl, which was an interesting experience. I was able to meet and quickly befriend other travellers plus a surprising number of expats and locals. They were able to give me some great tips on places to visit!
Japan is an incredible country that has so much to offer to anyone of any age. What I loved about Japan is that you can get all of the distinct experience of being in Asia while maintaining a high level of Western comfort. Once you experience the heated, singing toilets of Japan, I promise you will never question your decision to visit. With the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics in sight, I can only imagine the innovative and creative ideas that will go into increasing Japan's popularity as a top travel destination.
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