I’ve been living the Japanese life for a solid five years as a grad student, and now the time has come to pack up my stuff and head on out. But before I go, I want to take a moment to reflect on the awesome stuff I’m going to seriously miss about this country.

1. The Ultimate Lifesavers

First up, we’ve got the ultimate lifesavers – convenience stores (conbini) and vending machines. Can you imagine a world where you can grab everything from a hot coffee to a freshly steamed bun from a machine? Well, that’s the reality in Japan! Conbini are like a haven of necessities, and vending machines, well, they’ve got your back whether it’s a sweltering summer day or a chilly winter night. Whether I was rushing to catch a train or strolling through a park, knowing that I could count on a vending machine to provide me with a quick energy boost or a moment of refreshment was one of those little things that made life in Japan uniquely delightful.

2. The Magical Escapes

Then there are those incredible journeys outside Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong; Tokyo’s a world in itself, but oh boy, the adventures that await just a train ride away are something else. From the serene beauty of Kyoto’s temples to the snow-covered cities in the north, each place I’ve visited has painted a new picture of Japan’s diversity, and I’ll surely miss those weekend getaways.

Photos of some trips in Japan: Top left – Mount Fuji, top right – Kamikochi, bottom left – Snow Monsters, bottom right – Kyoto

3. Safety: Peace of Mind

Now, let’s talk about safety – a word that gains a whole new meaning in Japan. Walking around without a constant worry at the back of your mind, knowing that your belongings are safe and that you’re in one of the safest countries on the planet – it’s an incredible feeling that I’ll definitely miss. I’ve walked down dimly lit alleys in the middle of the night, exploring hidden gems and local haunts, without a second thought. It’s this sense of security that has allowed me to truly immerse myself in the culture and explore every nook and cranny of this beautiful country. Whether it’s the low crime rate or the strong social values that prioritize respect and harmony, Japan’s commitment to safety has made every moment here truly liberating.

4. Seamless Transportation Experience

And speaking of walking, let’s not forget the unbeatable transportation system. I mean, let’s be real; there’s something almost magical about trains that arrive down to the second and a network so vast it connects every corner of this island nation. From the iconic Shinkansen that whisks you across the country at lightning speed to the quaint local trains that take you through picturesque landscapes, Japan’s transportation system is a traveler’s dream come true. It’s not just about being on time; it’s about the seamless experience – the meticulously clean stations, the courteous staff, and the feeling of order and efficiency that permeates the entire system. Leaving behind this unparalleled transportation network feels like saying goodbye to an old friend.

5. Of Course, Sushi!

And of course, what’s a conversation about Japan without mentioning sushi? Whether it’s the fancy sushi bars or the quick fix from a local joint, Japan has spoiled me for choice when it comes to this delectable delight. In Tokyo, if you crave sushi, you can immediately open google maps and find at least three places within walking distance. Wherever I land next will not even come close.


So, there you have it – my heartfelt tribute to five remarkable facets of Japan that have left an indelible mark on my journey as a graduate student. As I prepare to bid farewell to the streets I’ve walked, the flavors I’ve savored, and the moments I’ve cherished, I’m filled with gratitude for the enriching journey I’ve had. Though I may be leaving Japan physically, the memories, lessons, and fondness I’ve developed for this remarkable nation will stay with me forever. It’s not just a chapter coming to an end; it’s the beginning of a new phase carrying the essence of Japan’s charm wherever I go. Here’s to the land of the rising sun, to the adventures, to the memories, and to the lifelong connection that’s now etched in my heart.