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What I have learnt on this family trip to Japan

Posted by Danielle MacInnis on 6 December 2023
What I have learnt on this family trip to Japan

Japan can teach us a lot about marketing.

My family went to Japan in November as my son had finished year 12 and had always wanted to go there. We thought it would be a good milestone to celebrate his exam completion.


The airplane right was uneventful and like most long-haul flights we were just glad to arrive in Osaka. The first thing I noticed was that the Japanese people are friendly. Even though they are a very quiet culture they seem to be happy. I think there are several reasons for this.

  1. The hot toilet seat - What is not to like about this? My husband doesn’t need any more encouragement to take his time in the toilet but there is something so comforting by sitting on a warm seat. And it is not just in hotels, shopping centres and restaurants as well!  The flushing options I can live without but this is a must-have.

  2. Food options - The wonderful food options in Japan are endless. I love how most Japanese food options come with soup. Yes, their cruncy chicken is delightful but so are their desserts with red beans that are not too sweet and so moorish.

  3. Tech and gadgets - there are plenty. From the shower heads to the USB chargers everywhere they have this all figured out. Even when you go to order food they have a Kiosk to order with images and card or cash options. So easy and convenient.

  4. Transport in Japan is easy and on time. Once you get the hang of their navigation numbering system the rail system is awesome. Google or Apple Maps make it pretty easy to navigate your route and the trains are on time and very clean. The JR pass (before October anyway) made it very affordable.

  5. Affordable - despite my initial perception Japan can be affordable. You can get awesome meals at 7/11 here and if you are willing not to stay in the flashy hotels you can stay close by for under $200 per night. I think if you gave yourself a $ 300-a-day budget you would be fine. We paid for a cheaper airfare early so it was only $1000 (AUD) return from Osaka to Melbourne each. When you visit the markets you can get some great affordable clothing and trinkets as gifts.

  6. Great for Teenagers - because Japan is so safe, teenagers can wander with their phones. There are many things for them to enjoy including anime and Manga artwork, shopping, food and natural wonders like gardens and temples. If your teenagers are like mine they will love the chance to use their IC cards and explore the surroundings.

Some of the things that take a little getting used to.

  1. It is like living in a cartoon. - I have found it hard to reconcilable the incredible innovation on one hand and the cartoon-like advertising and pop culture on the other. It is like a total juxa position. They have so many images and cartoon-like advertising and signage everywhere. It is on buildings, taxis and in shops. They have hundreds of shopping channels on the TV. It is almost like their advertising is from another century. I am not sure of its origins but it might appeal to the playful nature of the Japanese.

  2. Cash is still king - While you can get by on a credit or IC card cash is still king in Japan. It is kind of weird as you need both. In Australia, I rarely carry cash any more but in Japan especially in the smaller venues you need it. You end up with lots of coins!

  3. Small but fun - the living spaces are very small. Even the restaurants and coffee shops seem to be set up for less people nearby. The toilet spaces are tiny. While things are small they pack a punch and have thought of some clear ideas. Under table at restaurants is a container for your belongings, in the bathroom there is a small high chair on the wall so you can bring your toddler or baby with you, clever storage and design options in hotels. I love their creativity with this. They even have heated blankets attached under the tablets outside so you can keep toasty!

Marketing lessons

  1. Consideration for the customer- customer centricity is next level in Japan and there is a lot we can learn from them. From adding cool or hot packs to transport food to providing warm face wipes at the end of a meal, the Japanese have taken the time to think carefully about their customers. And it is not just the nice to haves, they seem genuinely eager to please.

  2. The respect for elders is very impressive. This older generation is given ultimate status in the community which is how it should be. As a growing population world wide seniors play an active role in the community. They seem to be a large proportion of the bike riders too.

  3. Technology acts as an enabler for communication and making life more comfortable. Tap and go on the mobile is active for transport, or ordering a menu in a restaurant. The use of tech in the home definitely exceeds where we are at locally and it will be interesting to see as more people travel and buy internationally how this changes our societies and e-commerce.

My favs

  • Hot lemonade

  • Hand wipes at end of a meal

  • Soup with everything

  • Showerhead

  • Hot toilet seat

  • Japanese maples

  • Heat and cool packs with takeaways

  • Bike ride everywhere

Will I go back?

Definitely and my son wants to eventually live here so I will be back. Next time I will pack even lighter (only did carry-on). One good pair of walking shoes worked well and even though Tokyo is a little better dressed than Osaka you can get away with Jeans and a nice top.

To see all our family shots visit my Instagram: @macinnisdanielle

Danielle MacInnisAuthor:Danielle MacInnis
About: Dan is a customer centric marketer and the owner of MacInnis Marketing a company that creates sales and marketing systems to attract customers and employees to companies that they love.
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