Why do the Japanese want to see eight countries in six days?

It’s certainly not just the Japanese, with Brazilians and Koreans being just two nationalities who do exactly the same thing. Here are my possible explanations for the nationality I know best, anyway:

– They do tourism in Japan exactly the same way, e.g. every famous thing in Kyoto in half a day, probably mainly for the same reasons

– Although the speed wasn’t possible, traditional pilgrimages like the 88 shrines in Shikoku had a very similar list ticking approach. Series of landscape Ukiyo-e also seem to take a similar sightseeing by numbers approach

– Japanese holidays are short (two weeks a year, of which they usually only take one to save inconveniencing their colleagues) and they expect to make the most of them

– Things were even more extreme until the 70s, when currency restrictions basically restricted foreign travel to business trips

– They plan absolutely everything before they go, and it’s difficult to plan “Wander around and sit in a café” for Day Four

– The knowledge of each place is limited

– Japanese and world geography is taught this way, with each place being represented by one thing, one dish etc

– If they don’t see the famous stuff, people back home will want to know why. In the same way, if you go to see anything different, there’s the chance that your colleagues will label you as an eccentric individualist. In other words, it makes conversing when you get back a whole lot easier

– Ditto with photos- if you can just show yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower, you can quickly get the conversation out of the way

Like I said, other nationalities do exactly the same thing despite having totally different cultures, so it could just be as simple as never knowing if/ when you’ll have the chance to go again. After all, I’ve never known a “five Asian countries in seven days” tour, though it would certainly be possible



  1. alexcase said,

    September 2, 2010 at 8:14 am

    It’s just occured to me that thinking of Europe as one thing, as Japanese and apparently Americans do, might make you expect to see it in one trip. Sure Europeans have the same thing when deciding to “go to China” for a week’s holiday, whereas they’d never expect to “go to the Balkans” for the same length of time

  2. September 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

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  3. September 3, 2010 at 1:47 am

    I went on a tour of “Asia” in 20 days through my university. We went to Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, Kathmandu, and Bangkok. It was INSANE. The people behind the trip were all over 55, and I think that had something to do with it–a kind of cruise-line, hit-the-sights, “if it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium” mentality. That was my first time out of the country, and I swore I would never travel that way ever again.

    Your theories are plausible, though, and it’s interesting to see the places where Americans and Japanese people might overlap here (even in terms of having less vacation compared to Europeans).

  4. alexcase said,

    September 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Interesting. Although it takes longer, it might have some connections to so many European backpackers “doing” South East Asia, i.e. the universal things of being far away, considered as one place, and a once in a lifetime thing being the most important.

    I’ve always fancied going on one of these holidays from Japan, if just to see Europe in a completely different way and to panic all the Japanese tour operators etc when they see a white face

  5. September 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Haha, well, that would be an interesting experience (for you and them!). There was a segment of the quirky old TV show “Soko ga Shiritai” about what bus tour conductors go through during their training–it was, ah, something. (“Soko ga Shiritai” describes your site pretty well, come to think of it!) I’ve been watching 90s episodes of the show recently; some things haven’t changed, and other things are an interesting window on the times.

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