Sunday, April 22, 2018

Traveling Solo in Japan

I had spent more than a year putting my experience of planning and getting to Japan in a webcomic form [here]. And it's still not done. But I wanted to put the main points in a post to sum it up for any parallel universe me's to read and consider.

It's Scary

Well, yes, and being the anxious type doesn't help. But Tokyo is such a breeze. You don't need anything but the yen in your pocket and the English in your head, and you're solid. There's so many signs and info kiosks and hand-holders in Japan that it would be pretty difficult to get into trouble

English is so often added to everything in Tokyo, so you can't get that lost. If you're heading towards the countryside, into the mountains, or off to find the source of your favorite Earth Porn picture [Yakushima Forest], maybe be a little more careful about writing down Google's advice on how to get there. Write out the kanji. Or stick to Tokyo and Kyoto and Osaka and be free of any fear.

The Woman Alone

Nope, you'll be fine. Crime in Japan is ridiculously rare. People leave their purse behind when they go to the bathroom to show that they'll be back. In Tokyo. At night. I walked around Akihabara at night to go play arcade games, and I didn't sense anything scary or suspicious. If you're around late enough in Tokyo, the main hazard is avoiding drunk barf.
I think the main thing I've heard is to avoid the red district type places at night, but I think that much is obvious.
But I've heard people talk about the cheap deals on love hotels as an accommodation type. But I'll be over there, in safe town, in my boring little Airbnb with no red hot tub, and that's okay.

That Awkward Restaurant Feeling

Okay, you got me there. It's not quite the same eating at a restaurant with a phone to keep you company, but you're not the only one. In fact, if you look at noodle shops in the morning, there's tons of business guys slurping down their food like there's no tomorrow. All alone. And there's even a ramen restaurant that emphasizes the solo experience by offering cubby booths for one instead of tables. You can find a place. You can do it.


And it's not the same when every picture with you in it is a selfie or as a result of asking a stranger to hold your phone. I found it harder to break out of "alone face" when I wanted to take a picture. A small price to pay for Ultimate Freedom.

Ultimate Freedom

Here's the thing: You can do anything you want, for as long as you want, and totally change plans with no arguments. If you need 10 minutes to look at a window display of crepes just because, nobody will stop you. No listening to complaints or conversations about disappointment or making compromises. It's your headspace, uncluttered and ready to explore.

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