What I miss most about Japan

I moved house this week, which caused me to look through a whole lot of boxes of journals, souvenirs and photo albums. (I’m a little bit of a hoarder.)

Being homesick for Japan

A huge proportion of these things were from the two years I spent living in Japan. Japanese things are just so “hoardable”, and my lovely students and friends there had given me so many sayonara gifts, and I also simply loved my time there so much that I have hung on to many memories, both physical and in my mind.

It actually made me feel homesick.

Homesick for Japan

It’s thirteen years since I left Japan, which sounds so long. I’ve managed to instil a love of all things Japanese (and especially the food) in my son, so I know he’d be a willing participant on a Japan holiday tour. Reliving all these memories made me think about what I miss most about Japan (and in turn, why I think you should all go for a trip there at once!)

I miss the Japanese people

I have met wonderfully helpful people all over the world but nowhere has the kindness level been so consistent as in Japan. I can’t think of one single incidence of bad customer service but I can think of dozens of examples of strangers who went far out of their way to help me (and to help everyone, graciously). It brings tears to my eyes to think of all the special people there I miss – my friends, my students, my gorgeous Japanese teachers, and so many more.

Karaoke with friends in Japan

Karaoke with good friends in Japan

I miss really real Japanese food

While I do have one pretty good Japanese restaurant close to home, I eat there so often that I know the menu backwards. What I really want is to dive headlong again into the side streets running down from train stations across Osaka and eat everything in sight, even though I don’t know what half of it is, because everything in Japan is delicious. Seriously, my mouth waters just imagining the different okonomiyaki and sashimi and udon and ramen and … oh, I have to stop!

I miss the changing seasons of Japan

Japan seemed to have the different seasons really worked out in a way that Australia just doesn’t. There is something special happening every time of year. The spring with its cherry blossom is my favourite, but the autumn leaves in all those different colours is something I’ll never see here at home, either. I have this huge list of my favourite places to go in Japan and really, you need to go to many of them at three or four different times of year just to properly appreciate them.

Cherry Blossom at Osaka Castle

Cherry blossom at Osaka Castle

I miss all the crazy cultural habits

Of course there’s nothing actually crazy about Japanese cultural habits, they’re just often very different from my own. I found it utterly fascinating to live in a society where you can learn something new about “normal” everyday. It’s particularly fascinating in a place like Japan because it’s a very modern society, and sometimes it feels like Australia or the United States or Europe, but then suddenly it will feel very Japanese again.

So are you going to Japan now?

If you haven’t been do put it on your list: it’s a one off place. There’s a small chance I might get to go again later in the year and I’m quietly doing somersaults about the possibility – so I’m keeping everything crossed.



  1. Thanks Amanda, Japan was already on my bucket list!
    My son went to Japan about 2 years ago and he just loved it and spoke highly about the Japanese people and how kind and educated they were.

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