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With our first 30 days of travel under our belt, and re-packed for another 60 days, we were ready for something a little more exotic, a place with a culture much different then anything we’ve ever experienced.

We bought a one-way ticket to Tokyo, Japan, made arrangements for our first night stay, and made the rookie mistake of “winging” the rest. Google and ambition will only get you so far, or in Japan not far at all.

We were un-prepared to say the least and even the most basic of tasks were difficult and stressful. Buying a train ticket and figuring out where to go from Tokyo’s main station for example was a monumental task that left us feeling drained and overwhelmed. But it didn’t break our spirit! Having prepared ourselves mentally for the possibility of things not going perfectly all the time proved to be a wise discussion before we embarked on our journey around the world.

Traveling multiple places around Japan in any time frame shorter than a week is pretty much impossible.  The country is so rich in culture and distinctly unique from city to city, its almost like stepping into a different world or a different time. From the technologically advanced, bustling streets of Tokyo, to the bamboo forest in Kyoto, to the snow monkeys in Nagano, Japan was one hell of a travel destination. One that we will certainly never forget.

Although we weren’t able to see the entire country, and would have loved to visit Okinawa, we were grateful to get a nice taste of what Japan and Japanese culture are all about. And that is honor, respect, and tradition. Japanese consider their culture and traditions sacred, meaning that you will find it very difficult to get a local to open up to you or even talk about their culture unless you are a good friend. Because of this, combined with our lack of preparation, we found it very difficult and almost awkward at times on where we fit in and how to be a respectful and grateful tourist.

What we will take away from Japan was the extreme necessity of preparing one self for language and cultural barriers and our neglect to do so.  Never underestimate the power of a Japanese for Dummies book and learning a few necessary phrases so you don’t look like a total moron in their country. Sigh. On a positive note, we know how frustrating it is when you want to do a simple task in a foreign country and nobody will help you so next time a see a fellow traveler, or anybody for that matter, having a hard time we'll be the first to help. No matter what language they speak!