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Japanese stop sign (AE, NGS)

101 Things I Love About Japan

Truly, the hardest part of my job is leaving a place. As my journey in a country comes to an end, I tend to get very sad, wondering if and when I return and thinking about how much I wish I could stay for longer. Often, my only consolation is to take stock of what I’ve experienced and feel joy for each one of those marvelous individual things. And so, after leaving Japan behind, I compile this little list. These are just a few the wonderful things I will remember from Japan, but they are definitely my favorites. (Feel free to add your own favorite Japanese things in the comments).

1.   Clear plastic umbrellas

2.   White-gloved taxi drivers

3.   “Irasshaimase! ” screamed at you every time you step into a store.

4.   “Cold water” and “hot water” are two different words

5.   Red triangle stop signs

6.   Glow-in-the-dark light saber police batons

7.   Jasmine incense at temples and shrines

8.   Zen rock gardens

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Zen dry landscape garden at Taizo-in temple, Kyoto (AE, NGS)

9.   Chocolate cheesecake packaged in long sticks, like beef jerky

10. Japanese maple trees

11. High-pitched talking escalators

12. Yakisoba noodles

13. Onsen (hot springs) bathing

14. Shinkansen (the bullet train)

15. Tokyo subway

17. Raw squid for breakfast

18. Green tea KitKat

20. Shamisen music

21. Tatami mats

22. Purple sweet potato soft-serve ice cream

23. Harajuku

24. “Best of the Carpenters, Selected Favorites” in every car CD

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Pocari Sweat, a Japanese-style Gatorade to which I am now addicted. (AE, NGS)

26. Unagi sushi

27. Japanese affection for plaid

28. Chocolate-covered lotus root

29. Perfect geometric ice cubes

30. Bowing (I’m used to it now)

31. Green tea doughnuts

32. Bonsai trees

33. Bento boxes

34. Calligraphy

35. Meditation

36. The trains run on time, all the time

37. V6 “Honey Beat

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The Japanese dog breed "Shiba" (AE, NGS)

39. Gum-drop shaped mountains

40. Hot sand baths

41. Warm washcloths before every meal

42. Lace covers on the backs of car seats

43. Free internet

44. Shiatsu

45. Toilets with options

48. Okoyama grapes

49. Sapporo ramen

50. Fluorescent green rice fields

53. Sumo wrestling on afternoon television

54. Toe socks

55. Cell phone charms

56. Melodious electronic ditties that play on the trains

57. Sendai airport

58. Mt. Fuji

59. Hygienic face masks

60. Vending machines

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Japanese vending machine sells iced coffee and cold drinks (AE, NGS)

61. Chopsticks

62. Hiroshima okonomiyaki

63. Manga (anime)

65. Shiretoko National Park

66. Ryokan

67. Geisha

69. Maguro

70. Shinto shrines

71. Hakusuikan

72. Brown bears

74. Benifuki tea

75. The word “Subarashii”

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A cup of Japanese hot green tea (AE, NGS)

76. Pink salt

77. Kanji

78. Cherry trees

81. Mt. Kaimon

84. Tempura

87. Japanese 7-11 (13,589 stores!)

89. Japanese Women’s Soccer Team

91. Tiny dried anchovies

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Paper lanterns glow at Yasaka shrine, Kyoto (AE, NGS)

92. Morning exercises on TV

93. Crickets

96. NHK

97. Wagyu beef

98. pottery

99. paper cranes

100. Wasabi

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Rubbing Buddha's head for good luck in Tokyo (AE, NGS)