When Steve first surprised me with tickets to Japan, going completely across the world (WITH our three children in tow, one of whom was only 10 months old!) I have to admit I was slightly disappointed at first glance. My gut reaction was “but why not Hawaii?!” (what a spoiled, silly response, right?!!) I knew nothing about Japan, the country, or culture. (aside from sushi and American stereotypes!)
What I didn’t know was that not only would Japan be my absolute FAVORITE trip I’d ever take, but that I’d learn SO many life lessons from the Japanese culture that I would take home with me!
For me, Japan was totally different from here in the United States. I’ve been pretty blessed to travel Europe quite a bit (I lived in Austria and France!) So I wasn’t sure what to expect my first time visiting the far East.
The biggest differences were Japanese manners, food, dress, and especially the language!
So what habits did I take home with me from Japan?!
I try to walk outside WAY more! Usually when I’m on vacation I gain a few pounds, because I mean it’s vacation! I’m indulging in rich foods, eating out way more which means a higher sodium intake, and usually doing less physical activity. This was a total change…I actually LOST 4 pounds in 3 weeks!
Not only did we find ourselves walking everywhere, we walked everywhere with an double stroller occupied by our two girls, huge travel backpacks, and sometimes luggage in tow. I’ll never forget Easter Sunday we walked 8 miles all throughout the city of Kyoto.
But here’s the really cool thing: everyone walks! Or bikes! And since I’ve been back I’ve missed and even been envious of the mobile lifestyle we had in Japan. When considering our forever home or forever state, I’d love to live in a home where I could walk or bike to the center of town. I’d love that for my kids as well.
In addition to making walking outside everyday a priority since I’ve been back, I’ve also craved rice and fish like never before. My goodness their food is AMAZING! And so healthy! There were always so many unprocessed food options. We often had fish and rice for breakfast, whether we were at a traditional Japanese hotel or Marriott. (I think the diet also helped with the weight loss!)
Another way Japan has impacted my life is how much Matcha tea I now drink. Not only is it amazing for your matabolism and heart but it tastes SO good. While we were there we had matcha cookies, ice cream, scones…it was so yummy.
And I’ve always loved a hot bath, but the Japanese take it to a whole new level with the Onsen. And I’m so there for it. Each Airbnb we stayed in had a soaking tub, or the option of a communal (gender specific), steaming hot pool called an onsen. (but no clothing allowed – haha yeah that just wasn’t my thing)
Not only is it good for your health to take a hot bath at the end of the day, but I also learned you burn an impressive amount of calories, comparable to taking an evening walk. Since I’ve been back I’ve been taking nightly hot baths and it has honestly been life changing. I’m more relaxed, I sleep better, and my circulation has improved. (especially in the winter!)
Finally, a simple but silly thing that I never did before Japan was taking off my shoes when I come in the door. Everywhere we went (and I mean EVERYWHERE, even in the bathrooms of some restaurants!) we were required to take off our shoes. At first I thought it was odd but I’ve since come to realize it’s seriously more hygienic (think about what we actually step on outside and bring into our home!?) It’s also a sign of respect, which I loved. So in the McGuckin house shoes now come off!
What are some habits you’ve taken back with you from your travels?‘