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Strong US Dollar Makes Japan Travel Affordable

I love a sale, and I’m never one to cross up a bargain, especially if the item is one that I’ve had my eye on for years. So I was thrilled to see, starting a few months ago, that Japan is on sale.

Two years ago, the Japanese yen was trading at 85 to US$1. It has now stabilized at about one hundred fifteen yen to US$1, meaning that, ultimately, Japan is an affordable country to visit for us dollar-holders. If this stability keeps up, I recommend planning a trip to coincide with the autumn colors.

What is most striking is how different things are in Japan. This country bears little resemblance to China and is culturally totally different from other countries in Southeast Asia, a region where we spend a lot of time. If I had to make a comparability, I’d say that Japan is paying homage to Singapore, although the climate is definitely totally different.

Like Singapore, Japan is spotlessly clean. Buildings are freshly painted, yards are tidy, litter is nonexistent, and recycling containers are everywhere. Also as in Singapore, signs are posted everywhere reminding residents to be neat, courteous, and orderly.

The general public stone island logos transportation system is unbelievably efficient–another similarity with Singapore. This is the case not only in Tokyo, which has one of the most efficient mass transit networks on the earth, but in every single place in Japan. Touring from Tokyo to Kyoto, for example, is a simple matter of exhibiting up at the railway station, buying a ticket, and hurrying to the platform to catch the following train, which always arrives on time and normally within moments. In Kyoto, subways and efficient city buses are waiting to take people onward. Among the several towns and cities in Japan this is a consistent experience. Public transportation is fast, efficient, clean, comfy, and inexpensive.

Japan, like Singapore, is quiet and orderly. People wait patiently at the crosswalks for the light to change before walking, and cars unfailingly yield to them. Horns are rarely heard. In actual fact, it is extremely unusual even to hear someone talking on a cellphone in public; public service signs are posted to discourage the practice, and most people made it a point to have their conversations in private.

Like Singapore, Japan is a fully developed country. The vast majority of Japanese seem to dwell a cushty, middle-class lifestyle. Though there is new construction going on throughout the cities, you don’t often hear jackhammers or see dozens of cranes like you would possibly count on. Males wearing suits and ties and well dressed ladies crowd the subways on their approach to and from their jobs. Children costume in tidy uniforms filling the college playgrounds. It seems that nearly every city worker wears a uniform of some kind; even road crews dress in clear and pressed work clothes.

As much as Japan jogs my memory of Singapore, it is vastly different in some ways. Exterior Tokyo, the population density is far less than other locations in Southeast Asia. You see a stunning quantity of farmland, many single-household properties with yards, and lots of parks and open spaces. Expansive gardens, even in the biggest cities, provide carefully sculpted trees, tranquil lakes, and effectively-tended pathways. For many, this was one of many joys of visiting Japan. It appears that each plant, each stone on the footpaths, and every rock was hand-picked and placed with nice care and forethought, all the pieces carefully designed to offer an ambiance of serenity and tranquility.

You may even see a stunning variety of traditionally dressed people in Japan. It’s common to see individuals of each sexes wearing kimonos. In Kyoto, there are geishas, beautifully adorned in full face makeup, ornate headdresses, and stunning costumes. At the Shinto temples, parents gown their young children in kimonos and provides thanks to the gods for making them develop and be healthy. Rickshaws, powered by energetic young men in spotlessly clean traditional garb, take tourists down ancient Kyoto streets.

Not everyone dresses traditionally, though. Tokyo might be the very best place on this planet for individuals-watching. A visit on the Tokyo metro might reveal an eclectic mix of cosplay girls dressed as fairies, Little Bo Peeps, or other fictional characters and young men wearing studded black leather jackets and Mohawk haircuts.

Although there are many ancient temples and castles, little in Japan has not been rebuilt or extensively renovated. This is due to Japan’s history of devastating earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, and fires. Few buildings on the main island of Honshu have survived these disasters untouched. Like Singapore, most of what you see is relatively new.

Artwork is in every single place in Japan, from unbelievable museums to public sculptures. Nowhere is art more apparent, though, than in the restaurants. Numerous dishes are served at every meal, carefully chosen to blend flavors with aesthetics. Typically you’ll have to attend a couple of minutes for your food to arrive whereas the chef takes care to organize and arrange the plates precisely. Singapore may have a more diverse cuisine, but it lacks the artistic presentation and creativity that you’ll find in virtually every Japanese restaurant.

Although many Japanese, especially in the cities and at the tourist sites, speak some English, you’ll find that English is not spoken nearly as much as in Singapore, the place the vast majority of people are fluent. This should not present too much of an issue, though. Many restaurants have plastic representations of their food displayed in the window. You simply take pictures of what you want to order and show them to the server, which ought to suffice.

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Unfortunately, Japan shares one more characteristic with Singapore. It is vitally troublesome for foreigners to retire to Japan. Until you’re Japanese, married to a Japanese citizen, or are in Japan to work, run a business, or study, your visa expires in just three months, and it is troublesome to increase without leaving the country, which is a comparatively costly proposition even at right this moment’s favorable forex charges. Nonetheless, Japan is an immensely fascinating and quirky country to visit and could be very best as an element-time retirement vacation spot.

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