Senior Citizen Travel to Japan

Mar 16th, 2010 | By | Category: Senior Travel

This blog shares some thoughts about travel to Japan.  First, be prepared for a long long airplane jaunt.  What a beautiful country with lots of things to learn about their customs for non-Japanese visitors!  It is very easy to make social blunders in Japan.  Take heed and “know before you go” with the suggestions offered on the link. 

While Japanese is not an easy language to read or to write, it is not all that difficult to pronounce. Ten useful “romanized” phrases are included at http://matadorabroad.com/10-extraordinarily-useful-japanese-phrases-for-travelers/

Lonely Planet was recently chosen as the best travel guide in the business. Seniors, if you are in the market for a guidebook, be sure to take a look at this one.  It far outdistances all others on the market.  I have selected some information from their website to share with you. There are some things that are obvious choices for your trip to Japan.  Five things you may forget to pack for your trip to Japan are found here at http://www.lonelyplanet.com/japan/travel-tips-and-articles/42/37418.  From my own experience in Japan I can attest to each.

One Japanese custom I had to learn was to remove shoes upon entering a home and putting on slippers before walking on the tatami, a rice straw mat covering the floor.  Red slippers are for bathroom only.  Other helpful sites seniors will want to visit include – ryokans, temples, museums, and historical sites.  In each you may be required to doff your footwear upon entering.

While visiting Japan on a Fulbright grant with a group of US educators I was able to visit a variety of schools.  Upon entering each school we were required to take off our shoes and put on slippers.  We all carried our own slippers just for this occasion. Upon exiting we then had to sort through a pile of shoes to find our own. Fun and very Japanese.

I will never forget “eating out” with a colleague in Tokyo.  We chose a very small restaurant and ordered battered tempura.  We selected a variety – vegetables, seafood and fruit.  We did not eat all that much and when the bill came…$110 apiece!  And this was a tiny inconspicuous hidden restaurant and were seated at the counter.  But we did order some sakitoo.  Yes, Tokyo is expensive, very expensive!

Public bathrooms in Japan often do not have paper towels, so carry a small towel or washcloth in your bag for drying your hands after you’ve washed them. Similarly, some bathrooms you encounter may not even have soap, especially on the shinkansen (bullet trains). A small bottle of hand sanitizer will come in very handy.  Wikipedia also has some information on the skinkansen.  I had the good fortune to ride a bullet train.  It was impossible to take photos from the train window as we were moving so rapidly that everything was blurry up to a quarter of a mile away.  That’s moving right along!

Each time that I go to Barnes and Noble there seems to be a new series of travel guides on their shelves.  As record numbers of people travel, more and more publishers are jumping on the bandwagon to cash in on the growing travel industry.  Nevertheless, finding a guidebook that suits one’s needs and whose style and suggestions you like is not always easy.  Transitions Abroad may help as it reviews many fine guides.   The 10 Best Literary Travel Books of the 20th Century and the Top Ten Travel Books make for good reading.

To view a sneak preview of the Cherry Blossom Season or Sakura in Hiroshima, view this traveller’s video developed by American Express.  It is well done.  Sayanora.    jeb



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