Think Bigger

The Rich Life chronicles: My trip to Japan

I talk often about how an online business can help you live a Rich Life, but what does it actually mean?

Here’s a really specific example of MY Rich Life: my trip to Japan.

So let’s do something fun: I took a 10-day trip to Japan with my fiancee and decided to share the trip in Instagram stories (Instagram: @ramit).

My trip to Japan hit all the things I LOVE:

  • Beauty
  • Simplicity
  • Being totally present on my trip, knowing my business is running without me being there
  • And my favorite of all…LOGISTICS

So follow along to see Ramit’s Rich Life…in Japan (and If you just expect pics of sushi, close this window now):

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I’ll show you some of the customs I learned and things I found surprising:

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I talked to an American buddy of mine who lives there who explained that lots of companies in Japan get together to decide how much money they want to make, then collude to keep other entrants out of their market. Good for business owners…not so good for consumers or innovation:

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I did like the money handling there:

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Yet again, LOL at American parents who think your kids have too much homework:

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Oh no, are the mommybloggers going to get mad at me?

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This was interesting. There were coffee machines everywhere, but almost no garbage cans. You never see anyone walking around and eating/drinking like in the USA. One reminder (among many) of how differently the Japanese consume food. And it shows:

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Tons of restaurants would put up signs like this. Not so different from clubs in NYC:

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I’m starting to really understand the power of reframing. When something is bad, you can not only make it bearable…sometimes you can actually turn it into something good (“Pain is gain”). Here’s a great reframe you can use:

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There’s a phrase, “You’re never as American as when you’re not in America.” I notice a lot of things Japan does better than we do…but it also makes me appreciate some of the things America is absolutely stellar at. Like accessibility, where we do an awesome job:

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The cosmetics were on point. My fiancee was obsessed. I stood around on my phone until I finally decided to look around….then I got obsessed, too. I bought a bunch of stuff, including Q-tips, some tooth cleaner, and a tongue cleaner:

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This was adorable:

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Real quick pop quiz:

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Send me your thoughts. I’m on Instagram @ramit.

This was a pretty amazing meal:

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You would never see this in the USA:

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I really liked getting feedback from readers, who told me they enjoyed my more personal side. There’s something about traveling and using Instagram to share stories that I really liked:

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I liked the food but sometimes we got intimidated:

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This is “shisa kanko,” or pointing and calling. It’s an industrial engineering technique designed to improve safety. It works.

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Hope you guys enjoyed this! Let me know what you think by posting a comment below or DM’ing me on Instagram (@ramit).


One of my goals is to show you that you can live your Rich Life — however you want to define it. If it means a trip to Japan where you can eat amazing food, take the bullet train, go all around Tokyo and Kyoto…awesome.

If it’s something totally different for you, that’s great too.

One of the coolest things about this trip was knowing that my business was running while I was gone. I hardly checked email. The systems I’ve set up worked beautifully. And these are the same systems we talk about here on GrowthLab every week.

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There Are 26 Comments


Thanks Ramit, it was nice to see this as a post rather than trying to dig through the unfamiliar Instagram website.

Looks like a great trip. Japan is on my list!

Nice one, bro!

I liked the outfit. The only thing is you shouldn’t smile! You have to look really serious when you want to be Japanese.

: P

Niklas Olson

It looks like a fun trip, makes me want to go back it was a great experience and made some good friendships there.

Ramit Sethi

Damn! I didn’t know this. Good to know for next time.

Ramit Sethi

Very interesting. I’ll look into this. Thanks for sharing this!

M Justice

Very interesting and intriguing post. Makes me want to take my wife there. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

Not exactly rich here, and my wife will soon kill me over it (she’s Asian), but just came from 3 weeks China home visit (and thus #GetAtHome adventuring; reports on the blog soon) and headed to Japan for some ChiliCult-related research later this year… Now for some income to add to that rich living.

Thanks for sharing Ramit. It’s cool to see a different side of you. You’re trip looked amazing.

My husband always wanted to go to Japan and I was going to send him on his own. I might just go with him too.

PS. Congrats on the engagement

Didn’t know you were engaged! Congratulations, man. I don’t blame you for not wanting to expose the fiance to the internet mob lol.

Anyways, the increasing frequency of your references to parenting leads me to assume you guys want kids 🙂 If so, that’s awesome. Raising a child has been the single most sublime and rewarding experience of my life, and I’m only three years into it!

I wish you two all the best 🙂

Fiancee? I didn’t know you were engaged. Who’s the lucky guy?

Chad frisk

I worked in a junior high school in Japan for a few years and the likely reason you saw those students coming home from school so late is that they were in a club.

Japanese school clubs are not like American clubs. For one, club membership in (many) JHS’s is mandatory. Students choose a club in their first year and stay there until the middle of their third. Most clubs meet 5 days a week, some meet 6 or 7, all year, and at the school I worked at, club practice went until it was dark (7 in the spring/summer months, 4 or so in the winter).

So it’s a huge time commitment!

It seems like the club activities are a way of training the students to work in groups. From what I’ve seen, the close contact does allow some students to form very close and meaningful bonds with other students in their club. That comes at the cost of time and choices, however.

I suspect that this system is, in part, an attempt to prepare students to function as adults in Japanese society, which can be regimented in ways that have real benefits (social cohesion) and real costs (disincentive to original thought).

At any rate, Japan is a super fascinating place that is very dear to my heart. I’m glad you had the chance to experience it!

Continue to post personal stories of your examples of a Rich Life, even in NYC. Those, paired with a few more personal posts, are my favorite. Congrats on your engagement !

This is awesome in ways I can’t fully describe. I’m just back from my own trip to that side of the world and noticing the similarities made me smile in a kind, the I’ve made it sort of way.

The weirdest thing for me was watching everyone take pictures of their food before the meal, and I mean locals not us foreigners. First part of the trip was work related, so +1 for someone else footing the bill to get my ass to there, but this mean eating in some fanciers restaurants. It seemed like any of the guys who hadn’t been there before took pictures before eating.

Lucky it all stopped when we started venturing to more local places. Then I started using Google translate to get an idea of what I was eating of the menu.

I’m looking forward to Ramits guide to dealing with jetlag.

How come you do not have any pictures of you with your fiancé? I am sure your email subscribers would love to see you both together. Congratulations on your engagement.

How fun! While I totally believe American kids could use a dose of reality and not get praised for just waking up in the morning, I think it is also important to teach efficiency to children. Useless homework and busy work is equal to worrying about domain names, blogs, twitter and not jumping into getting three clients. Japan has a very high student suicide rate(top along with Korea). The way school piles up all the pressure and ridiculous academic work load does not even lead to something the kids can actually value. (With labor, at least you earn wages.) Children have a right to a rich life as well, a life rich in time to have fun, find out their interests(which can be their freelancing idea later) and to see the happiness that can result from hard work. Unfortunately, many Asian kids learn to slave away without experiencing benefits from hard work. If I had to look up to another culture for how children are educated, I would look to Finland. School hours are short, kids are taught to read only after they enter elementary school, yet most of the population come out speaking fluent English and one or two other languages to boot, have high academic achievement and kick ass hobbies from an early age. Big wins are not achieved by minutiae such as filling in handouts given for homework.

Glad to know that you came to Japan! As a Japanese person, I found pretty interesting what you said. Japan is far from the perfect country–just like any other place, but we do have a lot of interesting stuff that you don’t always see in other countries.

P.S. I didn’t know that you had a fiancee. Learning a bit more about your personal life makes you more relatable.

Thanks Ramit for an interesting post.
Unlike the others here I will disagree on one point.
Please do not post information or pictures of your fiance.
Your personal life is your own and there is no need to expose it to satiate others curiosity or to make yourself “more relatable” as another poster has put it.

At the end of the day your content and value is what defines you ,not personal titbits.While I realise some are in need of this and it may even be tempting to “be a celebrity” you may well find that it may become tiresome to be the focal point of those who have little to do and lots to say on the interweb.

Ja ja………………..did u see anybody in wheelchairs?
if there are no wheelchair users then no need for such access 🙂

Some of my female friends are disappointed to hear about your engagement, but I’m sure they’ll be fine. Congrats Ramit!

I love how you picked up a lot of details while you are there.
I grew up in Japan. Although I am in the USA for a long time now, I definitely agree with the points you made.
Japanese companies tend to run well since Japanese work hard and follow orders /regulations well. But they tend to think “If it is working well, why would you make changes?”, which leads to delays in applying current technologies. That kind of thinking also leads to luck of innovation.
For the educational system in Japan, the government requires kids to go to school until they are 15 (junior high). Most kids still go onto high school, but they have to apply / take tests to get into high school.
Although there are some schools anybody can get in, the process of getting into high school creates more competitions and make kids study more for a “better” high school.
I think it’s good and bad. It’s good they study more, but it’s bad the system won’t allow a lot of kids to to the top colleges if they fail at this point

Hey Ramit,

Great to read about your Japan Trip! Actually our lifetime isn’t enough to learn and understand about japanese. And by the way, children (in Junior highschool 6th to 8th grade) usually come home around 10pm…Too many activities and lessons
I live in Japan, in Gunma prefecture 🙂

Hi Ramit,
The clip of “shisa kanko” didn’t run properly even when I popped it out 🙁 . I don’t remember watching it, please upload it on IG…if possible/whenever there’s a new story 🙂

Maybe, it is bcuz the chauffeur cannot see the passenger’s face/intention/body language i.e. if it’s done with smile or otherwise, usage of tray definitely looks warm and polite. However, in most cases, since it is considered that ‘hands’ execute karma, so the compensation of the service also has to be reciprocated in the same way here in India, generally. : ) But, anyway, even I liked this Japanese idea!

P.S.: How an individual handles their relationship with their finacee/wife also speaks volumes about their subjective ‘richness’ of the life bcuz it is a chosen one like friendship and unlike family.
Lazy to drop names but there are people in this world who are financially rich but unhealthy when it comes to relationships.
Getting to know tad bit about the personal domain of the successful people helps relevant audience to learn human behaviour and psychology in circumstances when you have most of the things accomplished.
People who think Ramit is ‘tempting to be a celeb’ – Good morning!

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