1. Figuring out how to navigate the day was like solving a puzzle. That was most satisfying.
2. Being able to hop on and off trains anywhere, having paid once for my Japan Rail pass.
3. Knowing when to get off the train simply by looking at my watch.
4. The sheer predictability services will be available. For example, all stations seem to have baggage lockers.
5. Mountains and volcanoes "everywhere."
6. People eating very little fast food compared to USA; hence...
7. ...Good food everywhere; never did need to succumb to a Western meal.
8. People try to be quiet in public spaces. (This masks bathroom sounds.)
10. It was warm, at least in the South.
11. People like to walk.
12. Proximity to good hiking, even when in a huge city.
13. Simple, clear design aesthetic. This is a waiting room in a small train station.
14. Every hotel provided a fresh yukata every day.
15. Lots of tunnels.
16. The NTT Docomo 4G network: extraordinary coverage, even in some tunnels, inexpensive. (Total US$35 for SIM and service for a month. This compares favorably with the US$15,000 I would have had to pay T-Mobile for that amount of international data.)
17. Not always taking things too seriously. This statue outside the Beppu train station celebrates "Shiny Uncle" who loved children. Oh yes, he was also the "father of tourism" in the city.
18. Gorgeous Spring.
19. Wonderful craftsmanship. This demonstrates joints in the structure of Matsuyama Castle.
20. Different, but within my comfort zone.
21. Huge civility.
22. Not overhearing whiny Western tourists. (Western tourists were a rare sight.)
23. Not understanding if Japanese tourists are being whiny.
24. Seeing ordinary, everyday life.
25. The unexpected.
26. The best seafood; the freshest sashimi and fried squid for breakfast. This is a Hakodate squid boat.
27. Good, inexpensive hotels ($35 to $70 a night).
28. Electronic toilets (bidet, heated seat, negative airflow). Every hotel room had one.
29. Many positive connections with the USA. (Railroad track, Otaru, Hokkaido.)
30. A civil society. These bikes are not chained to a rack.