Visiting Japan is the dream of many of us. Even if we know that we are heading for a total change of scenery, a culture that has nothing to do with ours, some surprises may be less pleasant than others. Come on, way to prepare yourself and help you plan your stay as well as possible, we give you some disappointments from tourists on the loose. History that you are not too disappointed in your turn. It’s hard, but we do it for love. Heart with fingers.
When you think of Japan, you quickly think of ultra-advanced technology. Sophisticated robot everywhere. Limit, flying car. Spoiler: that’s wrong. Like in dozens of other big cities, there are giant screens in Tokyo, but that’s it. Even a large majority of what is administrative still goes through paper. We are not saying that Japan is not participating in the technological advance, we are simply saying that it is not obvious in the street. Contrary to what we expected to see, it was not a robot that served us food. Disappointing, but reassuring.
2. Dress style
In France, when we think “Japanese clothing style”, we immediately think “eccentric”, “colorful”, “cosplay”. And finally… No. People are dressed in a rather classical way. We are far from the Japan Expo and at the same time normal for us, we don’t all wear marinières and a red beret.
3. On TV
In France, we have known Japanese TV through completely WTF programs, often based on obstacle courses or totally wacky challenges. So inevitably, by turning on the TV on site, we expect to discover new ones, just as unusual. Finally, we come across mainly food shows. It’s nice huh, but since we don’t suck anything on the tongue and the images aren’t super fun, we unplug. No worse when traveling.
4. The “bread melon”
They sell it to us as the pastry of the year, something amazing, a taste you’ll never find anywhere else. And… Okay. It’s just a sweet bun. It doesn’t even taste like melon. Tiresome.
5. The too perfect side
We like it or we don’t like it. It is unique to everyone. But it may be that coming from a city like Paris, which, let’s face it, is a bazaar without a name, this “smooth” and “perfect” side is a little confusing. The comments of travelers on the subject follow one another and are not alike. As a big mess that I am, I decided to keep this point, because I know it would freak me out. But you have the right not to find yourself there, of course.
6. The Night World
And more particularly, the world of “hosts”. Hostess Clubs are numerous in Japan. The principle: the bar is run only by women/men, and receives customers/customers of the opposite sex. Basically, the job is to make customers spend as much money as possible by flirting with them and making small talk with them. The Host chosen by the client receives 60 to 70% of the bill, which can quickly add up. In reality, on a team, there are only a few popular “hosts”, who distribute the customers. The others come in “help”, help the chosen host (shimei), and receive… 0 yen. Shit. Wallou. It’s a bit like slavery, yes. In addition to being ethically very questionable, this world is also at the origin of a macabre scene. Dozens of poorly paid (or even unpaid) hosts and customers who have spent more than they could afford kill themselves every day. Not as fun as some shows say, no.
7. Communication is complicated
Speaking Japanese, when you come from Europe, is not common. But leaving there, we say to ourselves that “easy, I have the basic English skills to speak”. You, maybe, but in Japan, we speak very little English! In some neighborhoods, there is even a certain rejection of foreigners. In short, learn a few basics before leaving, if only the polite formulas. It might help you.
In Japan, transportation is paid per trip. “Ahhh so cool, we pay less”, you will say to me. NOPE. It’s expensive. DEAR. DEAR. In addition, the network is quite dense and complicated to understand between trains, metros, different companies and adequate transport card, etc. Finally, the buses are quite narrow. Borrowing it with your big suitcase will certainly not be the best moment of your stay. Now that you’ve been warned, get ready to struggle a bit. A lot. Blow, it’s going to be fine (no).
Japan, like the USA, is one of the countries that displays its price excluding taxes. Checkout thus hurts much more than we had calculated. Everytime. Really, no matter how much we know in the long run, the disappointment is always the same.
10. The Price of Life
So yes, Tokyo is not Japan. But Tokyo is a bit of an essential part of a trip to Japan. And guess what? It is one of the ten most expensive cities in the world. In 2022, it occupies 5th place in the ranking. We know that a trip is expensive, but we are not necessarily ready to pay as much. Now you know.
11. Bonus: there’s not even a samurai or ninja in the streets
By far the biggest disappointment of an entire trip.