Japan had been on my bucket list for years. For me it was an exotic place filled with history and culture. Movies like Karate Kid, Kill Bill, Lost in Translation (great soundtrack by the way) and The Last Samurai helped fuel my dream to go someday. I even had a friend who lived there for several years working with the JET program who hyped up Japan.
5. Adventure: Japan offers many outdoor adventures, like hiking Mt. Fuji and skiing the Japanese Alps, but the true adventure lies in the culture. Japan is a cultural adventure. I had a friend who had visited Japan several times tell me that he thought Japan was the most opposite country in the world to the USA. It is a bizarro world to American culture. It is in many ways similar to the USA. (Like the USA, baseball is even the national past time.) It is a modern and clean country, but, while on the surface there are many similarities, Japan is the antithesis to America. And to me that was a huge draw. For a honeymoon, though, culture shock is not always a huge draw for most newly wed couples. Au contraire! The country was such a fun and interesting cultural adventure to explore with my new wife! The sights, sounds and tastes were all new things to encounter and experience together. The adventure was a great way to bond, laugh, enjoy and test out our new relationship.
My wife, Monica, on the other hand had never given much thought on going to Japan. Sure, she liked sushi and making the occasional trip down to Seattle’s International District for some ramen, but beyond that Japan wasn’t really on her radar. She wasn’t a fan of the cliches that draw many other Americans to Japan (anime, video games, etc.) and she just didn’t really know much about it. I knew it would take some convincing on my part to bring her on board for this trip.
4. Food: The food in Japan is great! Before we came to Japan, our image of the food was based solely on Iron Chef and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The real Japan lived up to and surpassed our expectations. You can get the best sushi and sashimi from just about any place that serves it. Tempura dishes and ramen are also great in Japan. The beer and sake is tasty. In fact, we both found a new liking for sake, a drink we rarely had tried before Japan. Even the street corner vending machines and 7-11s serve quality and uniquely Japanese delights. While there were a few moments that we tired of the Japanese palate–we were able to find some great Italian, American and Spanish alternatives–the food was really quality.
When we got engaged I instantly knew Japan would make a great honeymoon destination. For my wife, it took some convincing. We created a list of places we wanted to go for the honeymoon: Ireland, South America, Mexico, etc. Japan, though, remained on top of my list. After presenting the pros of Japan, Monica eventually gave the green light.
3. Beaches and Mountains: The big sell for Monica on the trip to Japan was to get some beach time and to climb Mt. Fuji (not a relaxing honeymoon activity but a great bonding one). Japan is a nation of mountains and it offers some of the most picturesque and beautiful mountain scenery in the world. Hiking abounds and hiking is one of our favorite couple activities! From walking the old Takaido Road through the Hakone region to hiking to the top of Mt. Fuji, there are a ton of mountain options. As far as beaches, Japan is a nation of islands. While we didn’t experience beaches on the main islands (you can find surf and beaches on the Izu Peninsula just south of Tokyo), we flew down south to the islands of Okinawa. In Okinawa we experienced miles of white sand beaches in a semi-tropical setting. Okinawa is a great place to rest and relax, especially after a wedding.
We booked tickets to Japan (less than $1000 each on ANA) and decided to go 2 days after the wedding in July 2016. For two weeks, we traveled from Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Nara and Okinawa. In every place we traveled, we found some of the most friendly and respectful people.
2. Hospitality: While on a honeymoon most people want to be taken care of and pampered (usually…). Japan knows how to take care of its guests. From the flight attendants on our way to Japan to the hotel and restaurant attendants, we found that people were eager to serve and to please us. A huge draw to Japan is the hospitality. It is engrained in their culture to show respect and take care of their patrons, and this is just what we found. Most people we met in Japan were incredibly respectful and helpful to us, the naive Westerners.
Upon returning from our honeymoon, I think we both agree now that Japan, while a very unusual and different type of honeymoon location, was the perfect place to start our lives together. From adventure to food and hospitality, Japan offers a great place to honeymoon.
1. Romance: Of course, romance is the most important quality for a honeymoon. Many locations around the world offer a romantic setting to honeymoon: Italy, Hawaii, Mexico. Japan offers just this, a perfect backdrop for a romantic vacation. Unlike other places, though, Japan is not only exotic but its aesthetic is like no other in the world. Torii gates, cherry blossoms or autumn leaves, peaceful gardens with koi fish–Japan is a unique setting to honeymoon, and after returning, we have both come to appreciate it as a location to adventure out into the world as a newly wed couple.