I'm an introvert and one of the things I've realised through travelling around Japan and other parts of the world is that Japan is a great destination for introverted travellers.
Here are the 5 travel tips that will help introverted travellers like us to maximise travel experiences in Japan.
1. Don’t be afraid to spend some time alone
We value our time alone because that’s when we can think better and recharge ourselves after socialising.
For introverts, it’s important to travel with people we love and share some happy moments, meals and our feelings. But it can be equally meaningful for us to travel solo.
When travelling solo, we can use our five senses better and so we become more sensitive to what’s around us. And that’s when we reflect on things we experience during our trip and realise a new perspective.
Japan is a safe country that’s friendly to solo travellers.
We don’t have to have our guard up all the time. We can ask for help if we need one and even total strangers will be willing to help.
We can secure a single room in business hotels and protect our personal space even though we don’t stay at capsule hotels or shared guest houses.
2. Interact with locals and so you get inspired and encouraged
Even when travelling solo, I feel energised, encouraged and enlightened.
That’s because I constantly speak to locals. When I get lost, the first thing I do is to ask people instead of opening Google Maps on my phone. When I’m at a restaurant, I always ask the staff what their recommendation is on their menu. When I’m visiting a new place, I connect with a local guide to hear their stories.
I value communicating with locals because that's what makes travelling even more exciting and enlightening. In most cases, you would find the things you had never imagined.
If you don’t speak Japanese, it may be overwhelming to speak to locals at the beginning but if you know what to say, when to use these phrases and what to expect in people’s responses, you should be much more comfortable starting conversations with locals. I would suggest learning about some basic Japanese words and phrases at least.
The truth is that Japanese people would appreciate it if you try to speak to them in a 1:1 setting like we would.
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3. Pay attention to natural landscapes in less-crowded and quieter places
Introverts are good at observing and so we tend to notice what’s around us like people’s behaviours and small details in natural landscapes. This is most effective when we are in less busy and quieter areas.
Japan is not only about big cities. In fact, if you’re moving away from cities for half an hour or an hour depending on which city you are in, you would find beautiful countryside that makes you feel relaxed and calm.
That’s where we can recognise the true beauty of Japan’s natural landscapes that change throughout the year.
As you may be aware, Japan has 4 distinct seasons. What's more, Japanese people have traditionally used the 24 solar terms and have appreciated slight changes in each term. It means at least every fortnight we can experience some new developments in natural landscapes.
Even in popular tourist destinations like Kyoto, there are many hidden gems that international travellers don’t usually visit like small gardens attached to unknown temples, which are the perfect place to feel the beauty of natural landscapes.
4. Arrange your visit during less busy times of the year and the day
The high seasons for Japan are the time for cherry blossoms from the end of March through early April and during the times of coloured leaves that are usually from late October to November in many parts of the main Honshu island.
During the high seasons, it’s not surprising to wait for a couple of hours before getting inside of major tourist attractions. If you would like to avoid the huge crowds, it’s ideal to arrange your visit at different times of the year or adjust your visit by a week or two from the peak season.
If you are visiting major tourist attractions during the high seasons or any times of the year, it’s always best to do so in the early mornings.
Otherwise, you want to be aware of what to expect and plan your itinerary with some flexibility. Also, having some alternative choices in mind is another thing you can do. This way, you don’t have to feel stressed too much even if things don’t go well as planned.
Adjusting the timing of your visit means you are helping the travel demand spread throughout the year. This would ultimately support sustainable tourism because you can contribute to securing stable profits for people working in the travel industry and reducing unfavourable impacts of over tourism.
5. Think deeper when visiting cultural heritage sites
Introverts are typically deep thinkers and we like to ask meaningful questions. What’s great about deep thinking is that this leads to new findings and ideas, which should help us understand better about ourselves and the world around us.
Japan has a rich culture and history. There are many historically and culturally significant sites such as the world’s oldest wooden structure from 1,400 years ago and the ancient capital with 1,000 years of history.
Historical buildings are stunning just by simply gazing at them. But you can gain a whole different experience when you think deeply about what you see, ask questions about whatever you find curious, and discover deeper meanings through the answers.
When visiting these sites, it is always recommended to find the context -- whether it's about Japanese history, cultural traditions, spirituality or philosophical teachings -- because this will allow you to appreciate historical and cultural sites on a deeper level. And, through this process, you will come to know more about Japan.
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