Japan is fascinating. While among the world leaders in technical innovations, Japan maintains an undeniable connection to its history. Huge industrial centers leave room for 500-year-old Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, while traditional Geishas stroll the streets in Kyoto. Restaurants frequently offer chair or traditional straw mat seating with chopsticks and silverware available. Although crowded, the Japanese culture has managed it well. People are approachable and polite by even the most shoddy looking of lost travelers (namely me), is still one of the safest destinations and not as crowded as some may expect. Cities run smoothly and good public transportation is just about everywhere. As with any country, learning a few choice words in their native tongue (hello, thank you, goodbye) goes a long way.