13 Things My Dad Would Have Loved About Japan


October 24th marks the day when my Dad passed away. To this day, he’s been gone for 4 years. I miss him immensely every day. He was my biggest supporter with me coming to Japan, and to live here and not be able to show him how my life has been hurts. I wish he was here to experience Japan for himself because I know there would have been many things he would like. Here’s a list of things he would have loved about Japan:

1. Beer and Cigarette Vending Machines

If anyone knew my Dad well, they would know that a couple of my Dad’s guilty pleasures are: drinking and smoking. I think he would also be shocked at how (crazy) affordable a pack of smokes here are compared to the U.S.!

2. Wagyu, Kumano-gyu, and Yakiniku

My Dad loves steak. I remember times where he would could a steak for us to eat as a family. We’d have strips of it and put it in a piece of lettuce and then top it off with rice noodles, peanut sauce, etc. I miss meals like that. But I think my Dad would be amazed at how beef here is soooo delicious (it’s the best.) compared to steak from home. I think he would have tried to take some back to the States! He loves meat and would have enjoyed the yakiniku restaurants here where you can cook the meat and veggies to your own liking. (He was always preferred his meat medium-rare)

3. Temples- especially Todaiji

I think my siblings and I can agree that our parents are pretty religious (We are Theravada Buddhists) In my house back home, there is a little altar with a gold(?) Buddha on top. It’s been in the same spot in the living room for as long as I can remember. When my older brother and Dad decided to paint the living room, my brother recalls my Dad telling him to leave the altar as it is- they ended up painting around it. So with the being said, I think my Dad would have loved to see the giant gilded Bronze Buddha within Todaiji Temple. When my Mom came to visit my a couple years ago, she said the same thing.

4. Feeding all the sacred deer in Nara Park

Speaking of Todaiji, I know my Dad would have been shocked to see so many wild deer roaming around Nara. He likes animals, but in particular wild ones. He used to enjoy leaving out seeds for the birds and peanuts for a special white squirrel on our balcony. (I wonder where that white squirrel is now…) He would have gotten a kick out of feeding the deer and watching them wreak terror on unsuspecting tourists’ pockets and paper bags!

5. The beauty of the mountainous inaka where I live

My Dad grew up in Pakse, Laos, which quite ironically, is very similar in terms of geography to where I’m currently living. Pakse is a city in Laos in the southern part of Laos, just like how I’m living in Totsukawa which is in the southern half of Nara prefecture. (Both Laos and Nara are also landlocked) My Dad has always preferred peace and quiet over the hustle-bustle of city life, so I think he would have been envious(?) that I live somewhere so remote… (that is, until he realizes that getting to the grocery store takes an hour xD)

6. Kyoto

If there’s one place in Japan I recommend every one to visit, it would be Kyoto. Sure there’s Tokyo, but Tokyo doesn’t have that natural charm to it like Kyoto does. (I think my Dad would go insane from the amount of people in Tokyo) Plus Kyoto, (despite it also being a very big tourist destination) has the Golden Pavilion, the Monkey Park, the Bamboo Forest, the Tori gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, and more. They say it’s impossible to see all of Kyoto in one day and I find this statement to be very true. I think Dad would have enjoyed a few days in Kyoto, and would have been excited about the monkey park!

7. Indoor smoking areas

When Trevor and I flew back home, we noticed that places in the U.S. do a really good job of making sure there is no smoking indoors. (Airports were a big one) But in Japan, even in malls, there are designated closed rooms for smokers. You can even see them in the airport too! Somehow I think my Dad would find this very convenient.

8. Thai and Vietnamese restaurants exist

Knowing my folks, if they did get the chance to visit together, I know at some point, they would start to get a little homesick for food they’re used to. I think they would be so happy to hear that there are Thai restaurants in Japan, and maybe would even try to strike up a conversation with the workers in Thai!

9. Trying Osaka food classics like takoyaki and okonomiyaki

My Dad likes to try new foods at least once- I think he would be surprised that takoyaki is delicious! I also think he and Mom would really like okonomiyaki.

10. Osaka Castle

I mean, it’s a castle, I don’t even know if my Dad had seen a castle in his life before! I think he would have loved Osaka castle.

11. Abeno Harukas

I think Dad would have enjoyed riding the elevator up (it’s way more entertaining than the elevator at my Mom’s work) and the view would have been amazing for him to see.

12. All the waterfalls in our village, and Nachi Falls

I like to think that when my Dad was young, he probably enjoyed the beauty of his home country before moving away to the states. Maybe seeing waterfalls again would have reminded him of his beloved Laos.

13. And finally, recording everything on his video camera.

I would have gotten my Dad a new and easy to use video camera were he still around. I remember ever since I was young, him always recording things, especially whenever we  visited Laos. It was his way of recording memories, and I think he would have had a blast taking video of everything candidly. That was his style, and he would have enjoyed showing all his friends and family his wonderful vacation. ❤

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