Travel Weekly: Next stop, Japan

A cultured and healthier lifestyle are just a few things Santa Monica College student Saki Sato says travelers should look forward to when touring Japan. After spending more than 17 years living in Japan, Sato, 21, says that the best part of living there was the nature and the food.

"The Japanese food is just really healthy," she said. "We eat sushi, ramen, soybeans, vegetables, and different kinds of fish. I feel if we eat more Japanese food, the life expectancy would be so long."

A theater major, Sato says she moved to California with a few friends from a preparatory academy she attended while in Japan. She chose to attend SMC after hearing good reviews of its theater program. With people in California being much more open and friendly, she says, Sato feels more comfortable getting to know Santa Monicans.

"In Japan, it never happens," says Sato. "We never talk to strangers."

Sato notes that an additional difference between Japan and Santa Monica is how younger people address adults.

"Here, everybody calls each other by their first or last name but in Japan we cannot call older people by their first name without adding -kun or -san," says Sato.

Sato added that she feels a lot safer traveling around in Japan.

"The traffic here is really crazy," she says, comparing it to what she believes is a much more convenient system in Japan. "There are so many train lines and buses, and we can go anywhere we want." Riding a bicycle did not work out for her, as it was stolen during her time in California, leading her to question the safety of the Golden State at times.

After visiting places such as the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park during a weekend trip, Sato enjoyed the experience of witnessing the large parks, as she states that she does not have much of that available to her in Japan.

She says she feels that people in Los Angeles should visit Arizona if they want to take a break from the fast-paced lifestyle of the urban city and visit a more relaxed and natural environment.

Another place Sato says she would love to visit includes New York, where she would love to feed her love of musicals and the theater by seeing all of the shows that Broadway has to offer.

For anyone wishing to travel to Japan, Sato recommends trying the transportation system.

"It's really crazy, but sometimes it's really fun," she says.

Sato notes that a great thing to do would be to visit both Kyoto, Japan's former capital, and Tokyo, Japan's current capital, in order to get a sense of history through both the past and present.