Tag Archives: Canadian

Why You’ll Fall In Love With Japan

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If you’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to Japan, you know that it is a nation full of surprises.

On the surface, Japan is fairly normal. There are large sprawling cities, highly developed infrastructure, and familiar corporate brands not unlike you would find closer to home. This in part, is thanks to the nation’s post-war transition, and subsequent rise to become one of the world’s top economies. (Perhaps a discussion for another time)

But hidden beneath all of those familiarities lies something the Japanese have held onto for dear life: their way of life and unique culture.

One such aspect of this culture is the inherent respect that people have for one another. As a Canadian, we tend to have a global perception of politeness and tolerance in our society and while this is true to some degree, Japan just takes it to an entire other level.

When you arrive at your hotel, the staff handle your passports and credit cards like a newborn baby. Every time you enter a café, restaurant, or store you’re greeted like royalty. The service you receive in Japan is bar-none the best I’ve ever had in all of my travels, and nothing but the best is accepted by those who serve you. In fact, tipping in Japan is seen as rude. The Japanese see it as a pleasure, not an obligation to give you the best experience possible.

Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”), Sensō-ji Temple, Tokyo

This inherent respect translates to all areas of life, and are most noticeable in the mega-metropolis of Tokyo. The city streets are spotless despite there being a noticeable small number of garbage cans, the air smells clean and fresh, and in the 17 days I’ve spent in Japan I haven’t heard a single car horn.

Think about that for a second…

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The greater Tokyo area has a population of nearly 40 MILLION people. In any other large city you would be drowning in honking. When I asked a local about this, she was almost offended at the notion that a Japanese person would be as completely irrational as to honk in traffic. Japanese people genuinely care about each other, their environment, and how they can play a part in bettering the world they live in.

The mentality is very much society over the individual.

The best real-world example I can give of the deep rooted cultural tolerance, respect and politeness in Japanese culture is from an encounter I witnessed while waiting for a train in Kyoto in 2018.

Standing on the train platform looking across the tracks, I noticed two businessmen having a conversation. After a couple of minutes, the man on the left motioned to his watch and signaled that he had to leave. The two said goodbye to each other by bowing not once, not twice, not three times or four, but FIVE times back and forth. And these weren’t quick bows; they were slow and meticulous as if they were in the presence of royalty.

The man on the left turned and began to walk away before quickly bouncing back around as if he forgot to mention something. The businessmen talked for a couple of seconds before they began the arduous goodbye process all over again. Just like before they bowed several times, almost as if it was a competition to have the best form. The man on the left turned again and walked away for a short distance before realizing he had gone the wrong direction.

Tokyo, Japan. Not far from Tokyo Station.

He reversed his motion and as he walked past the other man, the two began to bow AGAIN. Each step he took he would stop, plant his feet and bow. It seemed to never end, and not until the two were 10 feet apart did they finally go their separate ways.

This whole goodbye process from start to finish had to have taken 3 or 4 minutes. I didn’t even spend that long saying goodbye to my parents when they dropped me off at University! The level of respect that the Japanese people have for one another and for those visiting their beautiful country is astounding, and quite frankly it opens your eyes to the almost barbaric nature of how we treat each other in North America.

To sum it all up, I could talk and write about everything I love about Japan for hours on end. The culture, the people, the food, and the sights all combine to make the nation somewhere I could return to time and time again. It truly is a special travel destination that never fails to give.

Unfortunately, my words don’t come nearly close enough to articulating just how memorable it is. It’s just something you’ll have to discover for yourself.


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I Spent an Unexpected Extra Day in Barcelona, Spain

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Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia, and the Barcelona skyline (Stock Photo)

The year was 2013 and the destination was Barcelona, Spain. My family and I (recently turned 14 years old) had just gotten off the 8.5 hour red-eye flight from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

We made it through customs at around lunch time. After a short cab ride to the hotel, we discovered that we couldn’t check-in until sometime after 3 p.m. Not a big issue, we left our bags with the concierge and started to explore the nearby streets of Catalonia’s capital. We grabbed some food and basic groceries, visited some tourist sites, and enjoyed the warm Spanish summer sun.

Now I don’t know about you, but for me it is impossible to sleep on an airplane. I’ve tried everything from not sleeping for 2 days leading up to the flight, to bringing my own full sized pillow and blanket, to practically overdosing on sleeping pills. Nothing works, and I’ve just accepted that I will have to suffer through every second of every flight I will ever go on. (But if you have tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments)

So as you could imagine, when we finally made it back to the hotel to check in after touring for the afternoon on zero sleep, to say I was ready for bed would be an understatement. We climbed the stairs to our apartment-style accommodations and finally had the opportunity to rest. I threw my luggage on the ground, and b-lined for the bedroom. I pulled down the black-out shades, climbed under the covers in my sweaty clothes and passed out almost immediately.

When I woke up, my phone was dead. The kind of light shining through the cracks in the window shade told me that it must be dawn, but I wasn’t sure. Had I really slept through to the next day? I opened the bedroom door and as I walked towards the living room, I heard the shower running in the bathroom. A few steps further and I noticed my dad sitting on the balcony drinking his morning coffee. When I got to the living room, my brother was sitting on the couch watching TV. He had a bowl of cereal in his hands and was wearing a new set of clothes.

All the clues were telling me that it was the next morning.


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My initial reaction was confusion, but it quickly turned to anger. How was it possible for a human to sleep for more than 14 hours, and why in the world didn’t my parents wake me up for dinner last night? I shrugged it off; maybe they slept through dinner too. Either way, I was hungry. I went to the fridge but nothing really seemed appetizing. I needed real sustenance and there was just some sliced bread and a block of cheese to be found.

It was at this time that my mom walked into the kitchen.

“What are we going to do for breakfast?” I asked.

My mom paused and seem puzzled.

“Are we going out to eat, or should I make do with what we have here?” I continued.

Suddenly my mom’s confusion turned into an ear to ear grin across her face before she said while chuckling:

“What day do you think it is? We’re about to leave for dinner…”

I was shocked. I checked the time on the microwave clock, and realized I had only been asleep for a few hours. Suddenly it all clicked. My mom was just showering to freshen up, my dad just wanted to taste test the Spanish coffee, and my brother is just weird and eats cereal at 4:30 in the afternoon.

I collected myself and got ready to venture onto the streets of Barcelona for dinner. The rest of the night was a haze, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was living on borrowed time. We finished up, got back to the apartment around 9 p.m., and I went to bed for the night… for the second time that is.


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

Enter your email address below to subscribe and stay up-to-date on my latest posts!

Join 259 other followers

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About Me

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Places I’ve Been:

For a detailed list, click here.

Hi, my name is Dillon. I’m a 21 year old travel enthusiast from Canada who is constantly yearning to explore the world.

I’m currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Environmental Studies in International Development.

When I’m not studying I like to play guitar, hang out at the cottage, and day dream about all the places I haven’t yet been to.

Join me as I navigate my way through life, attempt to travel around the globe, and tell a few tales along the way.

The quest to find Saudades is a long one!

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Join 259 other followers

Looking to start a blog? Earn a $25 credit towards a wordpress.com plan when you sign up using the affiliate link below!


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