I have a fun post today from a friend who traveled for the first time out of the country, and lived in Tokyo to study abroad. Hello culture shock! Kari explains why Tokyo is the best place for solo travelers like yourself. Take it away!
Hello readers of A Little Bit Adrift! I’m Kari over at Kari-Senpai, a blog on Japan and it’s colorful pop culture. Last year I took my first trip outside of my small Minnesota life to study abroad with my husband in Tokyo, Japan. The first two months were by myself and what an incredibly different world it was! Today I wanted to share with you why Tokyo is the best place to travel if you’re a solo female traveler. Despite Tokyo being the most populous city in the world at 33 million people, it somehow manages to be safer than any of its rival travel destinations. Below is a list of reasons why and how it’s deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
Japan is all about the group mentality. Which is much different from Western’s individuality mindset. You work for the greater good, sacrifice your feelings and desires, etc. This makes for a very smoothly operating society, even if it’s at the expense of one’s individuality.
Low crime rate due to an insanely high conviction rate (like I’m talking about 90%). If a person is accused of a crime, it is likely they will just be found guilty. It’s a sad truth that innocent people do go to jail unjustly. Jail time in Japan is also highly frowned upon and it is INCREDIBLY difficult to ever have a good life afterwards. Because of this, there’s very, very little crime, especially violent. Politeness and being more concerned about others’ feelings over your own is a very Japanese mindset. Japan’s famously nice customer service is a direct result of this. They will bow often, use polite language, and do whatever they can to accommodate you. Some people absolutely love this while some Americans find it uncomfortable because they are used to the “laid back, I’m your best friend” kind of customer service.
Someone will help you if you’re in trouble or lost. This means if something actually were to happen, you’re not alone. There was an incredibly nice business man that saw me looking lost one day and because he spoke English, offered to help me find where I was going. There’s police boxes called koban but even in big areas, it’s not guaranteed they’ll speak English. But chances are, someone at the Starbucks Shibuya might!
Japanese catcallers are rare and if you come across one, you might not even notice because they are so nice sounding. They won’t call you sexy and follow you; at most they’ll call you pretty and try to get free English speaking practice out of you!
You can walk alone during day OR night! (unless you’re in Kabukicho!) As a foreigner who can’t walk alone at night in her home neighborhood, it’s not something you’d get used to in a 2 week vacation but you are very safe to go on a midnight walk. The only exception is Kabukicho, which I will note in the cautions below.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Tokyo is honestly safer than my small hometown in Minnesota, but it’s still a very large place and sometimes there are just bad people. Purse snatchers DO exist, BUT you will see many women leave their purses on a bench to get a drink at the vending machine very far away. Also, Tokyo may be the only large city where if you lose your wallet, you’ll most likely get it back.
Kabukicho, Shinjuku is Tokyo’s red light district and is known to have the Japanese mafia own many of the establishments. A lot of the bouncers outside might even try to pull you inside while others might try and tempt you with a deal, only to find out later than you owe them a few hundred for the entrance fee. This is more of a problem with drunk foreigners than anything. It’s still a far cry from the shadiness of the rest of the world’s red light districts but one should never go alone (However a lovely movie, arcade, and shopping date with your husband is a perfect date! Me and my husband saw an American movie in the world’s nicest theatre).
The biggest and possibly only concern you will have is a “chikan” (CHEE-kahn) aka, a pervert on a train. The videos of people being packed into a Japanese train like a sardine are a very real, daily thing. Because of this and how Japan views sex, men stroking a woman’s behind on a crowded train is such a problem that they have signs everywhere. As a foreigner, you are much less likely of a target. Japan put out statistics for the most likely targets and foreigners were the least likely to be targeted because Japan views foreign women as loud and confrontive. If it did happen to you, however, you can grab their hand, raise it in the air and yell CHIKAN! The Japanese people around you will take care of him (I’ve read stories of Japanese grandmas being the most ruthless!). Be careful, though! If it’s a crowded train, sometimes you’re uncomfortably pressed up against people and you wouldn’t want to accuse someone wrongly.
Along with it being very safe, Tokyo’s a great vacation spot because it actually can be done a tight budget! There’s many ways to find cheap accommodation and the food is delicious whether you’re spending 500 yen or 2000 yen. I’m planning a vacation in Tokyo with my husband this winter and the average December temps are usually 25-40 degrees F!
I hope you all decide to visit this wonderful city that I’ve fallen in love with and experience the different culture yourselves! Have a happy rest of your summer and またね！That means see you later!
Read about Kart’s adventures in Japan and more about their colorful culture over at Kari-Senpai! Thank you for sharing your experiences Kari! I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo someday, and I completely agree that Tokyo is perfect for solo female travelers. Time to venture over there friends!
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