We arrived in the Haneda airport at around 11 pm and did one of the most spontaneous things we’ve ever thought of. Since all the trains were offline until 5am, we decided to walk to Shinjuku. It was around a 15 mile walk, and we didn’t have any mobile data to navigate. All we had were the metro routes and a compass. We walked from about 12 – 5 AM, and one thing I noticed was how early people woke up in both suburban and urban areas. At as early as 3 AM, people were awake and walking around. We even met a local Japanese man (Keisuke) who told us about his visits to New York and Jamaica. He just heard us speaking English in front of a Family Market and started talking to us! The people here (in the suburban areas) were really friendly to us, and it felt like everybody in the suburbs were in a tight-knit community. Most people used bikes, and most were usually left out in the open.
Back tracking to planning our stay in Japan. I could’ve booked a hotel in Japan and stayed the night, but I wanted to see what we could do just exploring Japan ourselves without any tour guides, without any data. So we were homeless, but honestly it was an experience I won’t forget, even Keisuke thought we were crazy since we would hike all the way to Shinjuku. We had a fun experience singing songs from high school and middle school to divert attention away from the soreness from walking so much. When we arrived in Osaka (the first urban area we hit from Haneda), it was around 5 AM and people were already grouping into metro stations.
Here area the things in Japan that stood out to me:
- Japan is a really “early” rising country.
- Bicycles and trains are the main methods of transportation, very few cars. And at as early as 11 AM, the train station was gridlocked with people.
- While walking around in Shinjuku-Tokyo, there is at least one map in every street, maybe it’s heavily visited by tourists.
- There are vending machines that sell coffee, soda, cigarettes etc. everywhere. I saw at least 40 of them while walking around in Japan
- Japan has a really solo type of lifestyle. The restaurant shops usually seat around 6 – 10 people, and almost everybody eats by themselves. In the metro, almost everybody keeps to themselves while traveling. It also seemed that the Japanese people we saw were pretty awkward when it came to talking to others.
- Relating to all the early risers, almost every shop opens at 10:00 AM.
- The portions are much smaller than they are in the USA. Everything I bought seemed kind of as a n American, we would be getting way more food for that price. The Starbucks Venti size in Japan is a little smaller than the Grande in America.
- The Starbucks here are more expensive