If you aren’t Japanese and live in Tokyo, it is essential to get out of the country every once in a while. I’ve talked to many expats about this, and it just boils down to a mental health issue. No matter how much you love Japan, it’s needs to be treated like any other healthy relationship: there is a necessity to make “me time” on a regular basis. With everything going on here, it is easy to get lost…
Think of it like when you are recalibrating the compass on your phone. When you move it around in a circle 8 a few times, it will finally figure out where it is pointing.
The thing is that traveling out of Japan to somewhere else is pretty convenient- at least from an American’s point of view. Here are the things I look forward to when I take short trips:
First and foremost, there are a lot of direct flights to all major places in Asia. Compared when flying to the US, there aren’t any large time zone changes either. It’s totally possible to have a long weekend in Thailand and come back to work without missing a beat. Well, what you choose to do in Thailand is another story, so now that I think of it, your might be skipping beats when you get back depending on your definition of what a long weekend is.
If you travel outside of Golden Week (late April, early May), Obon (mid-August), or New Years, you can get some pretty good deals for international flights. If you figure in the cost of hotel and eating out, is actually cheaper to go to Guam or Palau than to go to Okinawa in many cases, so it’s worth it to to travel to new places.
Another thing that I also look forward to is the Duty Free Shops at the airport. I love to shop on the way out of the country because there are usually a ton of Japan only limited edition products and sets, and it gives you an excuse to stock up on makeup and girl stuff.
I love to go to the lounge before boarding. The Star Alliance Lounge in Narita and Haneda are awesome. You can charge up all your devices and chill out with the free wi-fi while eating a variety of snacks. What’s not to love about that? Plus all the wine, beer, and sake you want. It’s like a little pre-game party before your vacation.
After a just few days out of the country, you will feel glad when you get back in Tokyo. The food you always eat will taste better than you remembered. Conbinis feel welcoming, like an old friend saying hello. You will be able again to look at people in the eyes instead of staring at your feet. This is how you know your vacation was a success.