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Genie (USA)

Why did you decide to come to Japan? I’ve always wanted to go to Japan. It’s the number one country that’s on my list of places to visit. My dad added Japan to our Philippines trip. My family knows how much I love Japan and I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to go to Japan. My parents’ first trip to Japan was without me and my sister (this was about 6 years ago), and after they came back and told us the festivities and such, I knew I really wanted to go there. I regret not going with them that time.
How long did you stay?
I stayed in Japan from August 1, 2010 to August 5, 2010. 5 days.
What did you enjoy the most about your time in Japan?
EVERYTHING. The whole experience was just amazing. It’s so hard to express it in words. I feel speechless whenever I talk about it. My mind was blown away. I honestly think that walking on the streets in Japan was just simply amazing. Just being there makes me feel happy. I think a personal thing I enjoyed was speaking in [broken] Japanese. I was literally the translator for my family. But to say this from a tourist’s point of view, I would say going to Harajuku, the Pokemon Center, the 3 different shrines, Mt. Fuji, Komagatake/Hakone, and Sanrio World was definitely fun. Also, going on the Shinkansen was pretty fun too. Just exploring Japan was just amazing. Like I said, I can’t express it in words.
What, if anything, would you change about your time in Japan? TIME ITSELF. Five days was DEFINITELY NOT ENOUGH TIME for my little heart. Originally, we were supposed to be in Japan for two weeks, but then it shortened to one week, and then five days. When I was in Harajuku, I really wanted to buy something, but because it was super hot, it was definitely hard to shop around. We had to store jump by staying in one for five minutes to take in the cool air. If I was able to control the heat intake, I would definitely stay in Harajuku much longer. I remember coming home and looking at the map, only to find out the distance Harajuku is from Shibuya. Had I known that earlier, I would’ve visited Shibuya after Harajuku. Also, if the weather wasn’t so bad on Mt. Fuji, I would definitely explore/climb it. Mt. Fuji is still simply beautiful. I also want to add that if it wasn’t our first time in Japan, I would try to walk by myself to the mall or any stores like the Family Mart as opposed to having my family be with me. I want to do a self-exploration, even if it is a minor thing. Like what everyone says, no matter what country you’re in, I wish I had  A LOT of money to shop around. It would make shopping alone much easier for me. I would also like to add that we didn’t eat in much Japanese restaurants. It was an issue for us because my mom is allergic to fish which makes dining much harder for us. I had to make sure that at every restaurant that we went to, they do not reuse any cooking equipment that had to deal with fish and to check if there is fish in general. My sister and I love sushi. We couldn’t eat at a real sushi house, let alone that we couldn’t really eat in a strictly Japanese restaurant, because of our mom’s allergy. However, we technically did eat real sushi… from the grocery store. Does that count?
Would you come to Japan again in the future? I would definitely come to Japan again in the future when it’s possible. I want to do the things I haven’t done over there. I like the harmonious setting.
Would you recommend traveling to Japan to a friend?
Definitely.
Do you have any travel tips or advice (cheap airfare, hotels) to give to future travelers? Learn some basic Japanese to go around Japan. When you know at least a little bit of the language (this applies to any country, really), it shows your respect and proves that you are trying. I learned how little English is spoken over there. I was actually lucky enough to find at least five English-Japanese speakers while shopping at the mall. If I didn’t know how to say that my mom is allergic to fish in Japanese, oh boy, we would be in big trouble. Also, while you are speaking Japanese, try to be grammatically correct. When you mix up the grammar or words in general, you may end up saying something totally different. Based on experience, I accidentally said, “What the hell is this?” instead of “What is this?”. However, although I said a degrading sentence, I still tried and the people I was talking to still appreciated me for trying. Basic Japanese, broken Japanese.. It helps. I managed to go around pretty smoothly. I recommend going to the Family Mart or any nearest grocery store if you’re saving up your money for the day. But try to eat as much authentic Japanese food while you are there! I stayed in the Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo. There’s a shuttle bus that takes you to a mall which I believe is called atre 1, right next to the Meguro Station, I believe. There was this restaurant over there with great tempura and another restaurant with great udon. Speaking of udon, please note that there are such foods called cold noodles. I ate a little bit of it because my parents accidentally bought the cold kind, it’s not bad, but I just prefer to eat hot noodles. While we’re on the subject of food, there are fast food restaurants over there. We ate at KFC over there. It wasn’t greasy. I felt healthy eating in there. Please dress up nice or just don’t dress like a slob. I remember I was in basketball shorts and a T-Shirt arriving there because I like to be comfortable on long plane rides. I didn’t know how nice the Sheraton hotel was until I walked in.. Yeah. I definitely changed into better clothing even though it wasn’t totally fashionable. I dressed up like how I dress for school on hot days. Just dress nice and not like a slob. If you are going to the Pokemon Center, bring your Pokewalker! I didn’t bring my DS.. Bring a lot of money. This applies to any traveler really. You know how sometimes when there’s a long line for the dressing room, you tend to just try the shirt over the shirt you’re already wearing? Yeah, some stores don’t allow that. Always be prepared for the weather. For Mt. Fuji, dress up warmly. If you live in San Francisco, Mt. Fuji’s weather is similar. ALWAYS BE ON TIME. If you are going on a tour and you are told to be ready at a particular place at a specific time, be there 10 minutes early. If it’s 9:00 for the time you’re meeting, then be there at 8:50. This is IMPORTANT.
Additional Comments: Just go. It’s an amazing experience. I don’t know how many times I have to stress that out. Although my body is here in the US, my heart and soul remains in Japan. That’s how much I love the country.