5 Types Of People You’re Guaranteed To Meet While Travelling Round Japan

It has a population of over 125 million people...and you're definitely going to bump into this lot.

Photo: iStock.

Thinking about going to Japan in the near future? Well, you should be. You should be thinking about it. Thinking about it night and day. Why? Because Japan is cool. It’s seriously cool. In fact, it’s so cool that just thinking about Japan is enough to turn our skin blue and make our nipples go all pointy.

The world of course is filled with loads of amazing travel destinations but, as far as we’re concerned, none of them are as amazing as Japan. Brilliant cities, incredible history, friendly people, knee-deep powder if skiing or snowboarding is what you love, and a sunrise that makes every other sunrise look like a load of old chuff; yeah, take our word for it, Japan is the bee’s knees.

Before you book your flight, book your hostels, pack your bag, hug your friends, hug your family, and get on that plane though…here’s a little heads up for you. No matter where you go in Japan, or what you do, you’re virtually guaranteed to bump into certain types of people. These, right here, are those people; the people you’re definitely going to meet on your epic Japanese adventure.

1) The Guy Who’s Only There For The Trains

Photo: iStock (compilation).

Some people like trains. They like them more than life itself. These people like trains so much that their Facebook profile picture is literally a train, and they’re relationship status just says ‘It’s Complicated…With A Train’. These guys like trains so much that they’d willingly take a bullet for a train. They know about engines, and wheels, and train routes, and why wet leaves on the lines can make trains run late. These diehard train fans can put their ear to a platform and tell you exactly what model of train is rumbling down the tracks, how many people are on board, and what the driver had for breakfast.

With its super fast bullet trains, and incredibly efficient railway network, Japan is the ultimate destination for train lovers. Train enthusiasts gravitate towards this place year on year, often by themselves with nothing but a train timetable, a change of pants, and a ride-as-much-as-you-want JR Pass in their backpack. And at some point during your Japanese adventure, you will definitely bump into one of these train nerds. They’ll corner you in a hostel, in a bar, or on a train and spend hours talking up all the reasons why Japanese trains are the best in the world. You’ll try to make your excuses to leave, but you won’t be able to. You’re doomed now. Doomed forever to listen to this random bloke talk about trains.

2) The Drunk Japanese Businessman

Photo: Thomas Figg.

As inevitable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, at some point during your stay in Japan a drunk Japanese businessman will find you and then party with you. And when Japanese businessmen get loose, let me tell you, they get seriously loose. With ties wrapped around their head, and a bottle of Asahi in their hand, they’ll see you and your mates having a good time and immediately want to be part of it. They probably won’t speak English. No more than you can speak Japanese. But what’s important, what really matters here, is that you both speak the language of fun.

Picture the scene. It’s your first night in Tokyo. You all love that scene in ‘Lost In Translation’ where Bill Murray sings in a karaoke booth with Scarlett Johansson so much that you’ve decided to replicate it as best you can. You’re halfway through a rendition of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ by Oasis when all of a sudden, a couple of suits storm the barricades and join the festivities. For the next two hours, these city boys will be your BFFs; the Japanese brothers you never had.  Then one of them will silently leave the booth for a breath of fresh air, before passing out on a stairwell. His mate, the one still in the karaoke booth with you and your mates, will accidentally put his foot through a glass table, lose considerable amounts of blood as a result, and then fall backwards onto the world’s stickiest sofa.

This. Will. Happen. Don’t try to fight it.

3) The Dude Who Teaches English As A Foreign Language

Photo: iStock (compilation).

In every bar, in every major Japanese metropolis, is a seriously content native English speaker who about “six months ago” (and it’s always “six months”, for some reason) decided to pack up their nine to five office routine back home to teach English as a foreign language in Japan. These people are so infuriatingly cool that you find yourself torn between hating them out of jealousy and wanting to be their mate in the hope that your own place in the social standings will be raised just by sitting near them.

These sub-zero dudes play their acoustic guitars at open mic nights, speak Japanese to a genuinely impressive level, and have a Japanese girlfriend you’re convinced is the most beautiful person you’ve ever met. You want to hate them. But you can’t. You just can’t. The only crime they’re guilty of man is living the mother-flipping dream.

4) The Guy Who Clearly Spends Way Too Much Time In The Arcades

Photo: iStock.

If you find yourself in Tokyo, you need to check out one of the absolutely enormous arcades they have there. Even if you don’t like video games, you must, must, must go in one and see for yourself just how ludicrously massive they are. These things are cathedrals to flashing screens, beeping noises, and insane bouts of button bashing. They’re fun. They’re a lot of fun. But not so fun, we hasten to add, that you should consider sacrificing the outside world for four weeks and never really leaving them.

Try telling that to the traveller in the corner though and you’ll be met with a silence so cold, it’ll make you want to put on two extra layers of clothing almost immediately. This guy has come to Japan almost exclusively for the arcades. His eyeballs are red, his thumbs are swollen up like flesh-coloured balloons, his face is so pale it’s virtually transparent, and his skills on Street Fighter/Tekken/Virtua Tennis/any other game in the entire fucking universe are unsurpassable.

At one point, you’ll challenge him to a game and immediately go with that one cool move you remember from back in the day. Yes, you’ll try to lay down a “Hadouken” on his pixelated bruiser. That’ll teach him. Oh, what’s that? He’s seen it all before. He nonchalantly blocks the attack, counters swiftly, and kills your guy with one mega punch. His facial expression doesn’t change – not even once – and that, that right there, is the thing that will sting your pride the most. Ah, to heck with that guy. Get outside and see the rest of Japan.

5) The Girl Who’s Just “You Know, Really Into Japanese Cult-chah”

Photo: iStock (compilation).

“Oh, yah. I’m just, you know, really into Japanese cult-chah. It’s just soooooo fascinating, don’t you think? Oh yah. Yah. I just love Asia-h sooooo mah-ch, you know. It’s literally amazing. I was in Burma-h, for about a week yah, and honestly…it changed my life. It changed my life. I’ve been on my gap yah for about 38 months now and it’s literally been amazing. Best yah of my life. Did I mention that I love Japanese cult-chah? There’s just something soooooo, you know, mythical and amazing and….mythical about the samurais, isn’t there?. Oh, yah. And the geishas, of course. The geishas are bloody amazing, aren’t they?”

“Yah. Daddy wants me to come home and start work at the firm, but I really don’t want to. I really don’t want to. I said to him in an e-mail last week, I said: ‘No, Daddy. I don’t want to come back to Surrey right now. I haven’t finished exploring Asia-h and immersing myself in Japanese cult-chah yet.’ And do you know what he did, do you know what he did, he transferred me some more money. Oh, yah. Daddy understands that Japanese cult-chah is really very important to me. He understands that my gap yah is really helping me to grow as a person. Did I mention I spent a week in Burma-h, and that it literally changed my life?”

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